The past few months, I have been feeling a little lost. It seems to have become progressively worse since my last marathon in September. During the last couple of years I have been so focused on training for marathons, that has sort of been my "thing". I'm a stay-at-home mom who trains for marathons.
Now that the kids are all in school and I find myself with about 7 or 8 hours four days a week that I can more or less devote to whatever activities I choose, I am ridden with guilt and doubt. I admittedly spend a good chunk of that time either out running, at the gym, blogging or reading about health and fitness or in the kitchen. And for what purpose? I'm not training for anything specific right now, and even if I was, what for? I mean, why am I doing this? Why do I workout to the point that I live in a perpetual state of soreness? To be skinny? 'Cause I'm not, even after endless hours of exercise, and I don't think anyone really cares what I look like anyway, so why should I care so much? Do I do it because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good about myself? Yeah, I guess. But I'm pretty sure that's where those feelings of guilt creep into my mind. I'm doing something I enjoy with my 'spare' time and while receiving no extrinsic reward for my time and investment. I don't make any money. My fitness level doesn't contribute to our family's well-being, right? So what am I doing?
The feedback I have been getting recently from my blog and Facebook posts has got me thinking. A lot. About who I am and how I'm representing myself and my family. Some people say I inspire them. That's nice. That (sometimes) makes me feel like it's worth putting myself out there. If someone tries something they wouldn't normally have tried because they read my blog and thought, "If she can run marathons (or find time to workout/eat healthy/whatever), then I can - - - !"
Other people say I have too much time on my hands. For some, the idea of working out to the tune of more than a couple of hours several days a week seems excessive. For those people, I may be perceived as being selfish or vain, because why else would I do it? I'm not a professional athlete, motivational speaker or public figure of some kind. I'm not really anything. I'm just a mom who works out. A lot.
What should I do now? How should I properly and effectively channel this passion of mine? That's the question of the day. Some have said I should get certified to teach fitness classes at the gym. Sounds good, in theory. The problem I have with this seemingly logical idea is that I lack the confidence and charisma that I feel it takes to be an effective fitness instructor. The thought of being in front of 20+ people, all eyes on me, terrifies me to no end. I don't think I could do it. I prefer to be one of the sets of eyes on the instructor, in awe of their physical prowess. I can't picture that role reversed. Besides, the gym that we go to currently has a seemingly endless supply of well-qualified, motivational fitness instructors.
So I sit here, spilling my guts to all of you, my 4 or 5 faithful readers. ;) I am in the middle of an identity crisis. I am lacking purpose in my life. My four children are becoming more and more independent. Many moons ago I might have said my calling in life was to be a mother, but over the years I've found that I'm really not that good at it. I try. I care. I love my children. But I'm critical. I'm a yeller. I'm impatient and sometimes overly harsh with my words. I don't read to them as much as I should. I pray with them and for them, but not nearly often enough. I'm not a spend-aholic, but I'm terrible at making and sticking to a budget. I'm not a super-couponer or meal planner, I can't sew or make jam. I can't get my kids to eat vegetables, no matter what tricks I try.
All the while, my husband works his tail off in his career as a state trooper, often working over-time and taking on extra projects and responsibilities, struggling to find time for his own fitness routine and other hobbies. Sometimes I feel my existence is more of a hindrance to our family's success and happiness than a help. It's not intentional, but maybe it's negligence?
I remember when I started training for my first marathon, a friend of mine who also didn't start running marathons until her 30's, told me that after I finished a marathon, I would feel empowered and it would overflow into the other aspects of my life, like I could conquer anything. This same friend, also a mother of four, went on to go to nursing school. Sadly, I have not experienced that same level of courage and strength, even after having completed 5 marathons in 2 years! I'm not the same person I was a couple of years ago, obviously, but I'm still not who I thought I'd be.
So where does this leave me today? Who knows. I do feel a little bit better having vented some of my feelings through writing this post, but I'm still foggy about what goals I should be setting and where my focus should be in the future. I know I'm the only one that can institute the change, which is also what makes this all so hard to swallow. Choices. Mistakes. Life.