Years ago, a wise woman told me, “When you have a child, you will have to pause”. As much as I understood her advice, I wouldn’t truly appreciate it until I lived it myself. With a baby we bring joy, laughter and love into our lives. But also an interruption to plans. They call it a pregnant pause.
It’s 7:30 on Sunday morning as I write this post. Outside, the street is still. The city is quiet and the air crisp. It’s an inviting time for a long slow run. At this time last year, I’d have been lacing up my runners ready for the double-digit distance ahead. That was many moons and many diapers ago.
This pause leaves me in an unfamiliar state of limbo. I still identify with the old me – running, training and coaching. Yet, I feel noticeably removed from the world I knew. The fitness pages on Facebook and in magazines motivate me one day then stir feelings of despondence another. I am eager to pursue new goals but don’t feel I can put my best foot forward right now. By foot I mean glutes and abs, LOL.
I was watching Olympic skating earlier this week. It was the start of the long program. The television cameras followed the women as they prepared. I was surprisingly taken with the event and competitors. I remarked on their presentation: make-up, hair and costume. I sensed the anticipation coursing calmly through their bodies. I shared the final moments of mental preparation deep set in their eyes. Watching from my living room, I was transported to another place. Backstage at my own competition, I am ready to shine. A loose shake of the hands, a deep breath, my name is called and I step onstage bigger and better than ever.
The new me is mentally ready but not physically able to pick up where I left off . The toll of pregnancy and breastfeeding on my body are more than I expected. The demands and constraints on my time are greater than I imagined. The logistics of childcare and training will take more planning than I thought. I see now that the short break I anticipated is in fact a long pause. That may not be the case for everyone but it’s certainly my reality.
We were gathered in the Running Room store for our Wednesday night run. I raised the topic of pregnancy and running with a fellow coach. That’s when she chimed in. The woman who gave me hope beyond hope. She talked assuredly about running until eight months pregnant. She spoke almost boastfully about training soon after childbirth and improving her previous race time. This from an average looking i.e. not uber athletic, 30-something woman. Perhaps it was quite easy for her. Or perhaps she neglected to mention circumventing the pause with a super duper sports bra, a pill box full of speed, and a baby nurse!
The most significant interruption relates to my career. I’m on the cusp of an exciting change, with big ideas swirling around my head. How can you put genius on hold?! Amazingly, so much has happened, even in pause mode. For every action crossed off my immediate agenda, something wonderfully unexpected has popped up. I never imagined so much could develop while I stayed at home tired, out-of-shape, and out of the fitness limelight. God is good all the time. Wait ’till you see what happens when I’m back in the game!
Did time off ultimately help, hinder, or have no effect on your career plan?