As I came upon mile four in my 10k race this weekend, I noticed I was completely on my own. I couldn’t see the runner behind me and the runner ahead had rounded a corner. There seemed to be no one and Cooper Gap Road appeared to stretch upward, forever. This place is a beautiful, quiet stretch of North Georgia country where you always hear water running nearby and you might see a bear, watching the annual race. But for me, it was just an endless stretch of pavement with the wind in the trees, and that double yellow line taunting me.
Since I had the road all to myself, I decided to race right down the middle of it. I shifted from the right to the yellow line and decided that to keep myself occupied, I would use that line like a tightrope, no going left or right. I had to stay right there. I had to balance on the straight and narrow and not fall into the black on either side.
Those last two miles were pretty much a metaphor of my life. There’s this constant balance between motherhood and Heatherhood, responsibility and freedom, work and relaxation. On the days that I get work done and am on top of everything, I feel so powerful, so in-control. On the days when I get nothing done, when I park my butt on the couch and watch TV while the kids are at school, I feel like such an utter failure. For example, I sit here writing this post because I know I need to write more, I enjoy it and need the practice, but I feel guilty that I’m not upstairs folding the bathroom towels that have been sitting in a laundry basket all weekend.
I get it. I’m too hard on myself. I always have been. It’s hard to teach a 44-year-old woman new mental gymnastics. In the last year, thanks to Zoloft, my anxiety and mood-swings are mostly gone and calmed, but I still have a hard time finding that balance and acknowledging that I’m allowed to have balance, that it’s OK to have the busy days and the lazy days, the mom days and the Heather days, the laundry days and the writing days.
While I ran down that double yellow line, I took two miles, about 22 minutes, to think about my life and how there were so many things I wanted to do with so little time to do it all. Life, after all, waits for no one’s Oh, I’ll give it a go tomorrow. Life plods forward, with or without us. I know I need to hit that double yellow line more often than not, but I also know that it’s OK if I veer off to the shoulder to take a pause and a few deep breaths, look up the hill, and plot my next steps.
Because even though life and time both move inexorably forward, I need a shoulder moment every now and then and that double yellow line can wait.