All six in our family formed a line with our arms around each other; with individual medals hanging around our necks we smiled broadly into the camera. Click. It was a family moment that we will never forget. Building the foundation for this memorable moment started years ago . . .
When my youngest child was three I started jogging. Up until this point I had never enjoyed running. Although I had spent a good portion of my high school years involved in sports, I hated the running mandated in training for other sports. But at this stage of my life, as a mother with young children, I knew I needed to start running. I needed an inexpensive form of exercise that could be done within a short time span. I also needed the break from my busy household. Since I have always loved the outdoors, I thought running would be a positive and easy addition to my life.
So, I started running. And honestly, at the beginning I hated almost every step of it. I’d wait until my hubby came home from work, and while supper was cooking in the oven, I’d don my running shoes and hit the road.
I decided to bring along company. My seven-year-old daughter was always up for an adventure, so I strapped on her safety helmet and she peddled her little pink bike beside me as I plodded along. As we neared the end of the run I turned to my little girl for some support. Between gasps I told her that I needed her to talk to me. Why? Because at this point of the run I was beginning to hurt; I needed her to talk to me to take my mind off the pain and fatigue my body felt. I will never forget her response. In her 7-year-old understanding she asked: “Mom, if it hurts to keep running, why don’t you just stop?”
I laughed so hard I did have to stop. How do you explain to a young child concepts like perseverance, determination, and delayed gratification? How can you put into words the joy and reward that follow pain, endurance, and training? How do you explain the value of physical health and fitness? Sometimes when words fail, you just have to model and live it. You hope that in the future they understand.
That day I couldn’t explain to my 7-year-old daughter why I needed to keep running even though it was uncomfortable in the moment. But in the years that followed she and her siblings saw me lace up my runners and head out the door. They saw me come home from a run, drenched in sweat and smiling widely. I would often declare as I stepped through the door “I’m alive!” My family witnessed how physical activity enriched my life, despite the pain. Not only did I talk about it, I lived it.
This is one example of a value my husband and I have always held: to teach and live our values. We realized that some of life’s lessons are not taught; but rather caught. It is true a true adage: Monkey see, monkey do!
In the teaching and living unique memorable moments emerge. The years have passed . . . it’s been 15 years since that first run with my daughter. This spring we participated in our first family run! It was this very daughter who inspired, encouraged, and organized our family of six to sign up for this running event. Three of us ran the 10 km circuit, and three ran the half-marathon. Together we experienced the joy and reward that follow pain, endurance, and training as each of us received a medal for placing either first, second, or third in our age category!! Although that was very rewarding the most gratifying part of the event was that we did it together. What started many years ago as a beginning run with my daughter peddling alongside me; became life lessons about perseverance, determination, and delayed gratification; and finally culminated into a memorable moment full of fun and accomplishment together as a family. Our commemorative individual medals will always remind us of our weekend together!
What future memories are to be made . . . hmmm, there is already talk of upping the ante; full marathon before mom turns 50?
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