Thanks Mom…I hear this after every ultra endurance event that my boys have completed. It doesn’t happen at every cross country race or basketball game BUT it does happen after every 100 mile race or long distance run. It caused me to sit down and think about why that would be…..
We live in a world where we consistently hear about how the kids today are not prepared for real life, lack responsibility and overall just are not what “we were when we were kids”. I suspect that this discussion is as old as parents and children. Is there truth to it, maybe but we also don’t live in the world that we grew up in.
Between sports, school and work we are torn in what feels like 50 different directions all at once. Add the fact that our oldest is in the military and going to high school it gets even more tricky. Both boys have part time jobs and work up to 40 hours a week in the summer. Kids today….it looks to me like they are working hard and doing their part to become successful members of society.
Our oldest son loves to cycle. There has never been a time where I felt disconnected from Dan but things really improved when we started cycling 100 miles together at events. The first couple of hours everyone is polite and all filters are on. Hour four to six and it’s starting to get more real….conversations about life happen and continue to happen as the day progresses. Not to mention by this time life is getting simple-you eat, drink, and ride. There is no talk of social media or small talk. The conversations have become real and deep. Without cycling I may have never had these long days with Dan. I learned things about my son and he learned things about me. He’s seen me cry, smile, laugh and puke. He’s also seen me cross the line at races that I didn’t think I could do and cross the line with him. Did it change our relationship…..you bet. My only wish is that we had started earlier.
Brett is our runner. He LOVES to run….given the option of running or cycling he will run every time. His lungs are huge and legs are strong. When he started training for his first half marathon he was 14 years old. He didn’t know his way around well enough to do 8-13 mile runs from our house without guidance. There was the door opening I had been looking for! Brett and I spent Saturdays running and cycling our way through long runs. He would run and I would cycle and cheer right along side of him. Once again, the barriers were broken down as we worked our way to his first half marathon. That day we loaded up the family, nutrition and hydration and my cutthroat ( I was able to cycle through the crowded streets far faster than driving and it was what both Brett and I were used to). He ran his way to a podium finish against college age kids and you can bet at the end we both cried followed by “Thank you Mom”.
When I asked “Brett do you want to do a 50k with me at Land Run? You have to go my speed and we finish together” The immediate answer was YES! I can not wait to cross the line, get my Bobby hug, get my patch and then hug my son. Time once again spent getting comfortable with being uncomfortable together.
From my experience as a Mom, taking time out of “normal” life and transitioning into an ultra event with your family is life changing. Things change as your body and mind fight each other. That happens to your children also. They develop a bond with you during that time that is not like any other. In no way are you dependent on each other, but you are in touch in a way that doesn’t happen on a walk around the park.
Make no mistake….neither of our boys came running out of their rooms saying I want to do x! But as Nick’s and my distances became longer and we started talking about how the boys could join in their enthusiasm became contagious. Now, they are the ones who grab the 2020 calendar and say “what events work this year”. When the calendar is filled…..”thanks Mom”.
I’m asked frequently….”how did you get your kids to do it”. We lead by example. I am in training 12 months a year and my husband recently started being coached also. The boys see us doing it and they want to be part of it. Is it easy….no but it does help me be a better mother, wife and person. I didn’t force the kids to do it but any time that we unplug them from the online world and put them in an atmosphere that they are exposed to athletes that’s a win. My Salsa teammates inspire my boys on a daily basis. Every time the boys see the Salsa athletes they talk non stop about it the next day. Role models are hard to come by in today’s world and these are athletes that are GREAT all around people. How do i do it….I expose them to people and enviroments that allow them to find themselves through struggle. It’s not easy but it is worth it!
Kids today are as real as they were generations ago…..parents today are doing everything that they can do to keep everything in balance. Time is short for everyone and very precious. IF you can take time and invest in your children doing a long distance event it is time that you will never lose and is invested in ways that will come back exponentially. They will never remember their favorite you tube video….they will remember crossing the line at Dirty Kanza and hugging Mom at the end saying “Thanks Mom”. That’s what kids today can do if we encourage it.