I was supposed to run early last Sunday. Although I have developed a policy of not running on most Sundays, we had decided to go to a late Mass and it was a gorgeous morning. The alarm woke me up, but I was too tired from a recent trip to Italy to actually get out of the bed. I lamely texted my running friend and told her I was a no-show. I kept on sleeping. When I finally did awake, I noticed #8 (C.C.) and #9 (Sam) in the bed with us. I heard a few of the older ones already downstairs making breakfast. It’s always hard for me to head out on a morning run when everyone is home. Typically, I sneak out early before everyone is up.
Sunday, however, it was too late to sneak out. I was just about to hop on my Lifecycle when my husband announced he was going for a run and asked if I wanted to join him. #4 (Peter) was going and so was #5 (Annie). It was tempting…I could leave the younger three with their sister #6 (Grace). Before I could respond, the kids who had invaded my bed started to yell that they wanted to come too. So much for a nice, long, leisurely run. Oh well.
We threw the baby jogger in the car, along with a bike for #7 (John) and headed out for the trail. I had decided it would be more like a walk, but at least the family would be out together. I find that our age range (23-3) causes me to often feel a little scattered. I have one who is out of college and totally on his own (in Navy flight school), two in college, two in high school, and four in middle, elementary and pre-school! It can be a little mind-blowing actually. I love it….but I imagine most mothers of large families understand the “scattered” feeling I am talking about! Once a couple of kids have left the house for college, it is rare that we are all together. Basically Christmas for a few days and graduations are the only times we can all gather as one family (with two in the military it is even more difficult for them to get leave, etc.). I guess when my first child left home for college, I began to already feel scattered…and now as I am stretched with one in Texas, one in Maryland, and one in Alabama, I am that much more aware of it.
I have always loved a family run. We did it all the time when our older kids were young. We would stick a few in a jogger, take along bikes for those who couldn’t run far, and the rest of us would run. So on Sunday when I found myself at the trail unloading a bike and a baby jogger, and loading up, I found a wonderful feeling of contentment settle in. The sky was Carolina blue and the temperature was a perfect 55 degrees. We started out together and then, inevitably, split into three groups. Peter (#4, who is very fast) was on his own. My husband, James and John (#7) hung together. I ran with the bike rider, the baby jogger (#9 inside), and Annie (#5). We all finished at different times over about a half hour. The trail ends at the local Starbucks. Gradually, we congregated around a large table. Black coffee, hot chocolate, smoothies and muffins were the end-of-run treat.
My typical run is without kiddos, early in the am, and with a friend or two. I treasure that time and the friendships that have developed over all those miles. But I couldn’t put a price tag on the run last Sunday. Besides being a bit larger than the norm, we are a fairly typical American family. Busy with school, sports, and other activities that pull us in many directions. Time shared on a family run is unfortunately not all that common. As the run was winding down, #9 (Sam) had hopped out and was trying to beat his sister to the parking lot, I realized I was grateful for missing my alarm that morning. In fact, I plan on sleeping through a few this summer…