Step by Step (Ohh baby!)

“Stairs are climbed step by step” ~Turkish Proverb

Over a decade ago (yes! that makes me feel old), I walked across the stage and received my diploma from Old Dominion University. I graduated with a degree in English with a concentration in education. I thought I wanted to be a teacher. During those (ahem!) five years I spent studying (and working and abusing a fake ID), I sat in many development classes. They all fascinated me. They all made sense. We studied Freud and Erikson, Bandura and Vygotsky. I was ready to conquer the world.

My life plans got altered and before I knew it I was living in Alabama while my then-husband was studying to be pilot. I got pregnant. I became a mom. I started to observe all the life changes I studied in those classes in the small baby I had created. I was still fascinated. I remembered learning about life stages and charts that looked like stair steps. Now I was seeing it play out before my eyes.

As I watched Cole grow, I noticed the stair-step pattern in his behavior. For weeks, I’d have a happy baby. Then the tides would change and I would  have an irritable difficult baby.  Cole would eventually hit his peak in these difficult times, and my easy baby would return along with another new level of development. He became content with life again. New challenges would arise. Cole would discover a new level of skill that he would want to master. The difficult baby returned while he mastered the new skill. This upward climb of development always equaled having a difficult baby. When he would reach the top of his climb and conquer his skill, the easy baby returned.

This pattern has carried Cole through his life so far. I’m also seeing the same pattern in Chet’s behavior.  As a mom, I’ve learned to find comfort in the difficult times by acknowledging that they are going through a transformation of their own. They are struggling to get to where they are going. The are desperately trying to make that next step. The trying times, the times filled with bad behavior and pushing boundaries, are always rewarded by peace and a sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching the plateau of the next step.

It’s easy to recognize these patterns in my children. It’s not always easy to see them in my own behavior.  It’s easy to be understanding of the climb in young children because they have so much to learn and accomplish. I sometimes forget this applies to adults too. Fighting for what we want to achieve comes natural to children. At what age do we outgrow that fight?

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” ~ Dean Karnazes

As I travel down this quest towards marathon #2 and ultimately a marathon that will get me to Boston, I’m making sure I carry this awareness with me. I am on the upward climb of a stair step right now. My 10 mile run this Saturday at a 9:03 pace certainly doesn’t put me in a position to qualify for Boston TODAY, but the run is on the right set of stairs. I’m going to have to struggle, work hard, and fight my way to the next step, but I will get there. I will reach the landing of the next step, and a 9 minute mile paced long run will become easy. This is already happening. Every moment of struggle and fight will be rewarded by a moment of peace and ease. The cycle will continue. I will then climb the next step, and I will keep climbing until my stairs runs out.

Recovery Run with my Family. At Sunset. Along the Lynnhaven River.
Recovery Run with my Family. At Sunset. Along the Lynnhaven River.

Saturday’s Long run: 10 miles at a 9:03 pace

8:48, 8:56, 9:20, 9:29, 9:18, 9:09, 9:04, 9:06, 8:41, 8:16

A little all over the place while I rediscover my new comfort level in running.

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