As I turned the corner toward home on my Saturday morning run, I was totally bummed. I wanted so badly to feel good, and this run was turning out to be a total confidence slam. Just as I was about to end my run early, I passed three police cars with officers in them, conversing with one another. I waved, and they waved back, but one decided to speak. What the officer said changed my outlook that day, and perhaps for the rest of my life.
The night before this particular run, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., with the goal of having enough time to get 15 or so miles in before the kids woke up, and before life officially started for the day. Well, the alarm went off, and the motivation I had the night before gave way to spending another hour with my eyes closed tightly. I swore it was only 10 minutes, but alas, I woke up and was now only left with 45 minutes to get a run in.
As I headed out on the road, I didn't feel well. My stride was off, which is something I've been struggling with off and on since my baby was born a couple of months back. It's all part of my body working its way back together. I know the feeling well, but I still don't like it.
Not only that, but parts of life were bogging me down. Our 3-year-old has decided to set up camp on our bedroom floor and wake up when he feels the need to scream loudly for several minutes at a time. He also likes to hit and scream when he finds it necessary intermittently throughout the day, which is also fun. While the newborn is relatively easy, I spend a lot of time feeding him and cleaning up the trail of spittle he leaves, among other newborn messes.
The big kids and teens are helpful, while at the same time not. We are busy with soccer camps and tournaments. There is never enough time and money, and I often feel like a child having to deal with adult problems that I am not prepared to face and, quite frankly, I don't think I ever will be adequate enough to deal with them correctly.
Bogged down physically and emotionally, I was debating stopping and heading home. Certainly I could use this time to be productive. Laundry needed to be done. Dishes needed to be washed. I needed to resume my war against the bindweed in the garden. But this was my time. This was the time I set aside for myself to get my body and mind back into shape. I needed this.
So I continued on, weaving in and out of streets of my neighborhood, doing my best to fill the time with distance. Rather than heading straight home, I decided to head down one more block, then turn back for home in hopes that the added distance would jump-start me a bit. That's when I saw the three police officers sitting in their cars.
"You're winning at life!" is what I heard one of them say. It took a second for my mind to process what was said, but when it did, I couldn't help but smile.
This man whose job it is to protect and serve did just that. In four short words, he protected me from the negative thoughts that were flowing through my mind, and he served me by being kind.
The spring in my step that had evaded me that morning suddenly returned. I was able to add a few more miles to my run, which also included turning back around to thank the officer for his kind words, and snapping a picture of his genuine smile for me to remember.
I may not have felt like I was winning at life, and there will be many more days ahead when I don't. I may never have a 3-year-old who doesn't throw fits (all of them have). Time and money may never be on my side, or at least in my child-rearing life. The war I have waged against the noxious bindweed might be totally in vain for the rest of my life.
Even so, the officer's words gave me a goal to strive for each day. When the 3-year-old screams and the baby ruins the carpet with his spit-up, I'll have faith that these phases will pass. When I want to give up on a run, I'll go a little farther in hopes that things will improve with time. I will pull weeds daily until they surrender and let my plants grow, so that I can feed my family.
No matter the challenge, I will try my best to live up to the officer's kind words.
I will win at life.