It was my daughter’s nursery sports day and for the first time in my parenting life I heard the words that made me seriously think about putting the kids up for adoption so I could lose the ‘mum’ tag …….‘Mum’s race!'
I’m not competitive in the slightest and quite frankly I’m not built for speed (little legs, big boobs) so from the offset it was never going to be a pretty. I tried to talk to my husband about my concerns but his only words of support were “at least the nursery is only 2 mins from A&E” – yep cheers for that, I hope you fall flat on your face in the dad's race!
When the day finally arrived I nervously scanned the field, checking out the competition as my daughter looked up at me and whispered “I know you can do it mummy”. I desperately tried to manage her expectations with the “it’s the taking part that counts”, "all you can do is your best”, "winning isn’t everything” but she wasn’t buying any of that crap, this meant everything to her!
About 30 mum’s lined up for the start of the race. Oh how we laughed and joked with each other on the start line (whilst gently elbowing each other out of the way to get front line position!). I looked around and realised that the other mum’s meant business, some were even wearing running gear and were warming up! The only prep I’d done was putting on two bra’s in the hope that it would make me more aerodynamic but more importantly to prevent any facial injuries.
As we jostled on the starting line the staff suddenly shouted “GO!" It was like a stampede in the Serengeti. A herd of Wildebeest with lightning speed sped across the field leaving behind them a cloud of dust. I was that old and weak one that you see on nature programmes that gets separated from the pack and then gets taken down by the lions.
I was disorientated and bizarrely went diagonal and I tripped up a divot* in the field (*replace the word divot with own feet). I was laughing outwardly but inside I was a broken woman. The finish line seemed so far away and I toyed with walking to the end but the 4 year old was scrutinising my every move. I had no choice, I had to finish the race.
For the first time in my life I truly felt like an OAP. I watched the much younger mum’s surge through the finish tape with their arms outstretched celebrating and felt totally past my use by date. When I finally got there the finish tape was being rolled back up and the other mum’s were already walking back to the start line with a spring in their step. I did the walk of shame and limped back to my husband as he made absolutely no attempt to hide his hysterics.
So much for my two bra’s making me more aerodynamic I had practically came last. I say practically but really it was last as the only two people who were behind me were mums who were running the race carrying their children in their arms! My daughter looked at me and ran off. I felt like I’d let her down. “Don’t be so hard on yourself “ said my husband as he gave me a cuddle “I haven’t laughed like that for ages, it was absolutely comedy gold” – yep that’s about as supportive as he got but there was a saving grace – he did even worse than me in the Dad’s race (karma!!).
Embarrassing defeat aside there were some absolute diamond moments. Seeing and experiencing the sheer joy on my daughter and her friends faces as they ran in their races made it all worthwhile. They were having the best time of their lives. They had absolutely no inhibitions and ran with such innocence and a sense of being free that made me jealous. When did we lose that? When did us adults become so self-conscious and take everything so seriously? When did we stop taking pleasure out of the simplest things? When did we last really properly laugh? (My effort at running aside….)
So without sounding all righteous I took two things from that day:
1) to not be too serious and do more of the stuff that makes me genuinely happy; and
2) never again wear a newly washed pair of skinny jeans when attempting to run a race #groinchaffing.