It's been a year of huge things, preceding another year of huge, life-changing things. This year I accomplished one of my life goals--I finished a marathon. I also got my first post-PhD job, which starts in August and will require relocation to another Midwestern city. It also requires that I defend my dissertation and graduate for the LAST time this coming May. I've continued figuring out this motherhood bit, with incredible and growing joy and love for my little boy. In all of this I've learned that I can do incredible things, just not all at once. That might be the one thing I'll always remember about this year.
In the past year I have committed myself more fully to running. I tracked my mileage for the first time. I ran my third half-marathon and my first full marathon. I bought nice winter running gear. It was news to me when a coach observed that I'm slightly faster than average for my age and gender division in the half-marathon. Strangely, that small statistic gave me a little more confidence that I can do this, and I can keep improving. It's hard to describe to the non-runner (believe me, I've tried repeatedly with my brother), but running makes me really happy. I love knowing what I'm capable of, and knowing that I'm doing something good for myself and for others through the Team. Last year's final mileage tally came to 463.3 miles. It sounds like a lot until you break it down. It's actually less than 10 miles per week. Here and now, I'm committing to surpassing that in 2010. It isn't something I'm willing to give up when motherhood, work and life take over.
I've learned that even though you cross the finish line by yourself, your Team gets you there. My Team gave me a home away from home (so to speak) this year, coached me through injury and frustration, and celebrated with me when I finished the marathon. On the surface, we're sort of an odd collection of people. You wouldn't, for the most part, pick us out of a crowd to be friends with each other. But I don't know what I would have done without this group of people, especially our coaches and our resident Gangsta. Actually, I do. I would have slept in rather than toe the line that October morning in Detroit. You might argue that I could have said this at year end in 2007 or 2008, when I ran my first half and a postpartum half. But this is different. There is something about finishing that first marathon. It's our big fat secret, but almost everyone cries at that moment. This year with my Team was something different for me. I more fully appreciate my little group.
When I say I'm unwilling to give up running when motherhood, work, and life happen, I must admit it's largely a luxury my husband affords me. My bigger point here is that 2009 taught me, in spades, the fullness of my husband's heart. People often ask me how I combine being a mom and a student. The truth is, I couldn't do any of it without my husband. We work together to cram all the pieces of our lives into the under-sized jar it often seems like we are given, and I appreciate him so much for that.
On a related topic, I've continued to learn the complexities of motherhood, and I've thought a lot about what it means for me and for my son. I've talked about it at length with my husband. It's a matter of the heart that doesn't have an appropriate home here, so I'm not really going to discuss it in detail, except to say that I'm in a good place. One less personal but related observation from the year: paternalism is alive and well! I never have and I still will not have any part of it. Criticisms of me and my family on this topic are senseless and categorically unwelcome.
I feel like I should say something about scrapbooking, but I don't really know what. More than anything, I feel like I've become much more focused in my hobbies, in the sense that I now have fewer and spend much more time (relatively speaking) on the few that I've kept. I think I've grown as a scrapper, largely as a result of better tools (yeah Slice!) and countless hours of conversation on the topic with N. I'm really looking forward to finishing the album I'm working on now...uh-huh, of 2005. Ha! It's coming along.
In closing, this is where I am right now. I'm looking forward to our life in a new city. How long until we know where things are? Until we have friends there? Until our lives feel rooted there? I remember feeling like this when I moved to Illinois. It seems a lifetime ago. I'm afraid that moving will scar my little boy. He's so small. So routinized. So in love with his daycare. How will he be able to understand? Will we find another church we love? What kind of house will we buy? In short, what will life be like in a year? I don't know, but for now I am in a pretty good spot--surrounded by awesome friends and anticipating a future we've awaited for so long.
This has gotten long and perhaps too personal, so I'm gonna wrap things up with, oh yeah, you guessed it, a NEW mileage count, from a run that got cut short by impassable sidewalks: