I’m suffering from Mother’s Day come-down. In the old partying days of my youth, Tuesday was always the day you’d feel the effects of a heavy weekend. It was the day reality returned and glumness with it.
However in these freakishly fit marathon training days of mine, today’s come-down isn’t to do with alcohol. And it’s not that I’m missing being fed, watered and treated like a princess and banned from clearing up, emptying the dishwasher, or putting the washing on. The come-down is to do with the realization of what a fairly rubbish mother I am most of the time.
If only it was always like it was on Sunday. If only every day was a Mothering Sunday.
I awoke to a bunch of home-made tissue and straw flowers, crayoned cards emblazoned with tear-jerkingly gorgeous messages, as well as well as plate full of heart-shaped toast. I had been planning on my longest marathon training run yet, an 18-miler along the coast, but as the sun shone in through the window bathing three blonde heads in halos of gold, I yawned and took a rain check. I’d run another day, I announced, to cheers of approval.
I decided there and then to give one hundred percent of my attention to my kids. For the whole day.
It was surprisingly hard.
Quite quickly I realized how often I tell them I’ll read to them, or play with them, then go off and do something else. How often I check my Blackberry. How little time I make to kick a ball around, or pull them on their scooters. How I get into their bedrooms intending to get involved in their latest arty glue-and-paper project and start putting socks away instead. And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve now thrown my marathon training into their free-time/mummy-time mix.
But on Sunday, as I sat in the sunshine having a fry-up and letting the kids play with my camera, I realized how happy everyone was now that they were getting my full and undivided attention. And how happy I was too. I looked at every person running past and thought, ‘but it’s Mother’s Day. Thank God. I’m not running.’
Just as an aside here, I have to say, for the record, that there are absolutely no discernible benefits of training to run a marathon. If you were thinking of doing it, don’t.
OK, so I don’t get so out of breath in the last-minute pre-school dash up the stairs for the forgotten hairband/nappywipes/school-book. But at the same time, I haven’t lost any weight. Not so much as a pound. You’d have thought I’d look like Kylie by now, but alas, no.
And everywhere I turn people have their own marathon advice – or warnings. At the school gates, a lovely nutritionist Mummy mate checked that I was taking a very strong anti-oxidant? Anti what? I asked. She looked genuinely concerned. Didn’t I know that running produces superannuating free-radicals? I was grateful for the warning, but alarmed that I’ll have aged 20 years by April.
However, one great bit of advice I heard on Sunday, as I was sharing a giant ice-cream with the little one. ‘To run a marathon you have to be slightly under-trained and slightly over-weight.’
Marvelous. My work here is done.