I usually run three to five miles each morning, and that takes me about 25-45 minutes. A few weeks ago I was staying with my parents and taking my typical daily runs. I run early in the morning and even though it seems like the height of Summer, it is still dark when I run. My step-dad would watch me go each morning as he is an early riser also. And evidently he kept track of how long I was gone as he watched me arrive safely back ‘home’ each morning.
I honestly didn’t realize that he noticed the time that I was away for my run.
Until I took my long run that weekend as I’m training for a marathon. So, I left my parent’s home at 5am and ran and ran and ran. It was dark and I admit I don’t love running in somewhat strange places when it’s dark…but this is small-town, middle-America and my hometown, so I assumed that I was safe as I headed out to run 90 minutes or so.
But pretty soon towards the end of my run a black car slowed down as it approached. Adrenaline kicked in and a quickened my pace with a force that I didn’t know I still had in me as I was tired as I approached the end of my long run. But soon I heard a familiar voice “Buff?” And then the window of the car was down as it pulled next to me and I saw it was Jack, my step-dad…still in his bathrobe with a concerned look on his face. “I was so worried about you.” He said. “You are usually home much sooner.” And I laughed a guilty laugh and said “I guess I forgot to tell you that I was taking a long run today.” Not even realizing he was paying attention to the times of my run nor when I returned.
But he did, because he is my dad.
And then his worry and concern turned to the voice I remember from my teen years “Damn straight you did, young lady! You need to tell me what time you’re coming home so I don’t worry! Damn kids!”
And I apologized like a 17 year old sneaking in late, and told him that I’d be home in about 10 minutes.
Jack drove off and I continued my run with a smile on my face, a shake of my head, and a new skip in my step, just knowing that my parents were still looking out for me. But in that moment of overwhelming gratitude of safety, I realized that it never stops. This parenting gig.
Sure, they move out at 18 and go to college, get jobs, buy houses, have children, and buy minivans…but they are still your kids. Parenting is not a moment in time or a hard ending after 18 years. No parenting in a marathon. And I guess the worrying never stops.
I mean sure, they need not tell me what to do or how to live my life nor buy my groceries, or tell me how to raise my kids.
But if they want to worry about their 44 year old daughter when she takes off an early morning run…well, I welcome that and accept any kind of lecture it may bring. Especially if it comes from my sweet dad driving a Camry in a bathrobe.
Speaking of marathons…My training is going well! Twin Cities Marathon is coming up on October 6th and I’m up to a long run of 14 miles and feeling amazing.
On my first day of training – about a month ago, I made this video after my first long run, and I admit I was worried when I returned from my run as I did not feel great. I’m now amazed by how much stronger I feel just after a month of training.
Sure, I may not break any records and honestly I’ll be happy with a 4:30 finish where just a decade ago that time would’ve depressed me. But it’s not about the race day or the time..it’s about enjoying the journey…just like parenting…it never ends.
And I’m thankful.