I ran a 10k race on Saturday with Elise. I was really nervous about pushing her for 6.2 miles. I was expecting it to be difficult but I didn't expect to feel the strength and drive I felt. I've never felt stronger and more invincible than I did running with Elise. She was the one empowering me. Right before the race, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "It looks like your daughter is tired." Elise had fallen asleep! She stayed asleep for a few minutes and when she woke up she was so content and happy watching all the other runners and feeling the wind in her face.
As I began running my legs took off and I didn't slow down after that. My goal was to not have anyone pass us. I don't know why, maybe because I didn't want to think that I couldn't do it. I certainly had those thoughts! Elise and I met the goal. No one passed us, well except for one guy when Elise lost her shoe and I had to run back to get it.
The last mile was the most difficult. I kept thinking that I couldn't do it anymore. I was going so strong but the heat and intensity of the run was getting to me. When I rounded the corner and saw all the supporters and then my family cheering on the sidelines I began to cry. It was such an emotional high and the most incredible feeling ever. My time was 56:52. I couldn't believe it. I have never run that fast by myself for that long of a distance but I did it and I did it pushing my 4-year old. Elise has made me a stronger person in so many ways. Today she helped me discover even greater strength than I thought was possible for me.
Being a parent, especially a parent to one with special needs, can at times be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. My faith, my family and friends, and writing all have helped me during these last couple of years.
A year ago when things with Elise got really complex and difficult I knew I needed to do something for me, to lift me out of the grief I felt. That's when I turned to running. I signed up for my first 10k race and began training on my treadmill.
I felt so many different emotions while I'd run. At times I'd feel anger, which turned to frustration then to sadness and grief. It was exhausting and liberating at the same time. I'd play things over in my mind and in some moments would break down sobbing while running. Other times I'd keep increasing my speed more and more throughout my run until I was in a full sprint. During those times I'd get an interesting look from my husband like, "Are you sure you're okay?!" Overall when I'd finish my run I'd feel incredibly better, ready to face the day and any challenges head on.
Those intense emotions have, in large measure--but not entirely, subsided so I still continue to run.
Last year I ran this race for Elise. This year I not only wanted to run for her, but with her. Running for Elise, for my little girl who already has faced so many incredibly hard challenges has motivated and pushed me in a way that nothing else could. I feel stronger with her, more passionate and not only a knowledge of, but a feeling that I can do hard things. We can do hard things because we already have done them together.
I run for everything we've been through together and have yet to go through.
I run for Elise's disability, whatever it is.
I run for Elise to show her I love her completely, as she is.
I run for Elise because we're a team. She's my teacher and I'm her hands and voice.
Months ago I came across a youtube video of a father and his son with disabilities. Dick Hoyt began running with his son, Rick and over the years they have raced in Ironman triathalons together. The dad pushes, pulls, and carries his son throughout the whole race. It is an incredible story and it ignited a desire to race with Elise.
Ez and I had talked on and off about getting a running stroller but hadn't decided if we really were going to or not. A few months ago on a particularly difficult day I walked downstairs and saw my husband standing in the entry way with a running stroller! I immediately broke into tears. He said a friend of ours had given it to him. Words can't describe how much that meant to me. It was a sign of Heavenly Father's love for me. He knows ME. He knows perfectly how to succor the weak and the feeble knees that hang down.
The winter months were much more difficult with Elise. She had an increase in difficult behaviors. I thought of the scripture we can do anything the Lord gives us. That is true but as long as we include Christ in that. I can do anything with Christ. He gave me a tender mercy that day. There have been days when I just don't want to do it anymore. When I'm at a loss of knowing what else to do, God gives me something that seems to say, "Keep going, you've got this. You're doing great." I knew I was being take care of, that He is aware of me and my needs. God is mindful of each of us and truly is in the details of our lives.
A stroller showed me that.
This youtube clip is about Dick and Rick Hoyt's story. Watch it, it's amazing!
I LOVE being a mom to my 5 kids; one with special needs. There is no greater joy than being a parent! I love each one individually but this blog will mostly focus on our daughter with special needs and our journey with her. Thanks for reading!