Waking up, the grey morning was illuminated by the fresh fallen snow, sticky on the trees and grass. The thermometer said 40, but with the snowy rain, it felt colder as I ran through the near empty park to a workout. One of the few runners I passed was a man running with a baby jogger (kudos to him), equipped, of course, with a transparent plastic cover to protect baby from the elements.
It’s not that I never see women running with their babies in the inclement weather, but still. . . I have often heard variations on this theme — “It’s too cold (or wet, or windy, or or or) to take the baby out.” Thus does the woman deny herself the opportunity to run. Deny herself.
Too often, mothers feel selfish when they claim time for themselves, when they prioritize their workouts. Men. . . not so much. In conversation with two mothers earlier this week, they were bemoaning the fact that they had forfeited Sunday runs at the behest of their children. Their children had pressed their guilt button — something most clever kids know how to locate in an instant. Yes, of course, children are a priority. But let’s face it, for the vast majority of you who are reading this, your children are not suffering from neglect. Sure, weekend time with your family is important, but so are you, and so is your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Giving yourself short shrift is counterproductive. Yes, your children have your attention, but is it undivided and patient, or is it yearning for the run you missed and impatient, because you need some time to yourself to clear your head and get the blood flowing?
But there’s an even more important reason to prioritize your own workout. How do children learn what’s important, how to behave and who to respect? — from adults, and more specifically from their parents. Mothers need to demonstrate by example that a woman may prioritize her own time, otherwise how will her daughter ever know she can? Mothers need to demonstrate that strong women are important and respected. The only way to truly do that, is by being a strong woman, who respects her own needs. And it’s not just daughters who are looking for examples of strong women in their lives; it’s sons, too. Mothers, you are raising boys who will ultimately treat women in the way that was modeled to them at home.
Not only should mothers claim time for themselves; they set a living example when they do, one that will resonate through the next generation. How excellent — getting your run (or bike or walk, or swim, or or or) is an important feminist statement.
Go for it — rain or shine!
© 2011 Mina Samuels, author of Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives
Mina Samuels is a freelance writer and editor, and in a previous incarnation, a litigation lawyer and human rights advocate. In addition to many ghostwriting projects, her previous books include a novel, The Queen of Cups, and The Think Big Manifesto, coauthored with Michael Port. When she is not writing she might be off doing triathlons, marathons, biking, cross-country skiing, yoga, rock climbing, kayaking, snowshoeing, or hiking in far off places.