Dear Other Moms/Dads at Gymnastics,
I’m sorry I smell.
Imagine you have just finished a run. You are dripping with sweat. Your face is red and your heart is still pounding. Probably the only thing you want at this point in time is a drink of water and to start to cool down. But there’s a snag, you’re actually just getting back from your run in time to pick up your child from their designated after-school activity. So instead, you walk into the building in your completely sweaty state and stand amongst the group of other parents picking up their children. The other parents have been doing one of two things: 1. They have stayed to watch their child at said activity in the climate controlled building or 2. They ran errands in other climate controlled buildings. Therefore, they are not the sweaty mess that you are. So you sneak over to the water fountain and refill your water bottle. People seem to be staring at you, but you focus on not overflowing your water bottle and then you hide in the corner until your child is released from class.
Yeah…that’s pretty much a perfect picture of me Every Time I run during my daughter’s gymnastics class. Or when I run before picking her up from school. Or when I used to run during her violin lessons. Or that time I worked out by the pool during swim lessons…
In all these scenarios, she is safe, happy, occupied, and monitored. I guess I don’t feel like I need to see every gymnastics class. Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch sometimes, but I don’t think it makes me a better mother to see every practice session. Actually not staying and going for a run instead probably makes me a better mother. I get to relieve some stress and I’m making good use of my time. However, I do make it a point to stay and watch every few weeks or so.
But this last gymnastics class, I was especially sweaty. I hadn’t left quite on time because I had to change shoes before going and I was sort of just taking my time getting started. Once I started running, I fell into a good pace and felt strong despite the heat and gap of 4-5 days since my last run. Around the one mile point I stopped at the dirty creek to capture the reflection of the trees on the still water, which is now The Picture. (This picture was fun to edit. The leaves around here haven’t changed in full force so the picture looked like a jungle. I wanted to highlight the reflection so I colored that in and did a few other little edits. If you flip the picture upside-down, it almost looks like the real thing and not a reflection.)
When I run during an activity, I usually keep close watch on the clock. I never want to be late. I remember a few times from my own childhood when my parents weren’t perfectly on time and I panicked that I had gotten Left. I continued on and was trying for about 5 miles. Somewhere along the way, I developed a little side stitch and the humidity/heat was overwhelming (The Bank said it was 89*). I stopped at my turn around point, took a few pictures and caught my breath. I was about 2.2 miles from the gymnastics place and I glanced at my watch – 5:00pm. OH NO!! Gymnastics gets over at 5:20! Or is it 5:30? I couldn’t remember. To get back at 5:20, I had to run about a 9 minute pace all the way back. It was way too hot and I was already taking tiny walking breaks. There was No Way. I start sprinting back.
On a speed-walking break, I called Gymnastics to tell them I was going to be a hint late and find out the official end time. No answer. I’m running as fast as I can, but I’m already overheated so I take another walk break to call. Again No Answer. I make it past the one mile point. I still had time, but the heat is getting to me so I try another call. I’m about 3/4 mile away and I have 6 minutes to get there by 5:20. Thankfully, the girl at the desk answers. I’m totally breathless, but I managed to pant out What time does the Girls Intermediate class end? “5:30.” Ok GREAT! I can definitely make it there by 5:30.
I walked into the gym at 5:22, thanked the girl at the desk, and filled up my water bottle. I’m drenched in sweat- more than usual. I’m very aware of the fact that I smell. I find my corner away from the other parents and my daughter gets out of class at 5:24. She doesn’t see me right away, though I see her, and, immediately, I see her expression change to worry. I call her and she runs to me with “I didn’t SEE where you WERE! I thought maybe you weren’t HERE!” Well that was the closest call I’ve had, but I made it. Too close for comfort though!
I’m not sorry I went for a run, but I am frustrated with myself for cutting it so close. Lately my mind has been full of abstract math problems and with my head in the academic clouds, I’ve been forgetting so many simple things (like watching the clock). As I’ve said many times I wish I had another running friend. Then we would both be watching the clock. I’m always wondering,
Where are all the other running moms? Why aren’t there more sweaty moms picking up kids from after-school activities? I mean, my mom was a sweaty mom. She used to power walk during our piano lessons or when I was in cross-country practice.
Seriously, I’m waiting for the day that I come back to the gymnastics gym all gross, sweaty, and smelly and I look across the kids pick-up area and see another sweaty mom. Because then I’d say, Oh did you go for a run too?? and then we could chit-chat. I guess until then I’ll continue to be the sweaty, gross, smelly mom that everyone stares at and tries to avoid.