It was track and field day in the seventh grade and I was standing at the starting line for the 100m dash. I was never an athletic superstar and had no inclination that I might actually win - I was more of a "middle-of-the-pack" girl. The gun went off and I started to run. As I was running I noticed that I couldn't see anyone in front of me. I ran faster. I looked to the crowd of my peers jumping up and down and cheering. I ran faster. I was winning. I couldn't believe that I was actually winning. I felt amazing; so happy and proud. When I crossed the finish line and turned around to accept my accolades, I died a little inside. I was alone. The rest of the heat was still at the starting line. It had been a false start. The cheers of encouragement from the crowd had actually been pleas for me to stop. I had run my heart out, in front of EVERYONE, alone. The walk back to the start line was probably one of the longest in my life. Oh, the shame. To make it worse, I had run the race again, placing fifth. To this day, this moment is burned in my soul as the most humiliating of my life. I think about it from time to time and am able to laugh about it now.
I liken this experience to that of being a mother. There have been days when I feel like I have it all figured out. My kids are happy and healthy, the laundry is put away, and I may have squeezed in a couple of stomach crunches. Life is rolling right along. Then I have the days where I feel like I'm going back to the beginning and all of the things I'm hoping and working for (a good night's sleep, a toddler who isn't crying, a clean house, and eating a salad instead of an entire bag of Doritos) seem 100 miles away. There are days when I can hear the roar of the crowd and feel so connected to and supported by my friends and family. And then come the days when people are busy with their own lives or nobody seems to understand what I am feeling and I am once again alone on the track. As mothers, some days we win and some days we lose. I have an idea of the mother that I want to be, for myself and for my family, and some days I am that mom - I'm out in front. Other days, I lay awake with my thoughts and think of all the mistakes I made that day, and it's like I'm on the track walking back to the start line.
As I am writing this, my husband asks me if I think that I am losing as a mother. The answer I give him is no. When I take some time to look at things I can see that I am doing just fine, but I also know there will continue to be moments of doubt and regret. But everyday is another race and a chance to start again.