My family’s late summer and early fall schedule combines one of my favorite things — watching my kids run — with one of my least favorite things — early mornings. I’m a night owl by nature. My name is one of the great ironies of my life; it’s a time of day I rarely see by choice. These months of 8:00 a.m. practices on our county’s greenway and Saturday meets when we leave home in the dark hours of pre-dawn, however, are made not only bearable but enjoyable by the company of the other runners’ moms and the sweet friendships I’ve made.
On those weekday mornings while our kids run, the moms walk. Individual schedules vary; it’s surprising how different the mom crew might look from day to day. Sometimes there are only two or three of us but on other days we look like a small-but-nonthreatening gang.
On a typical morning I’m slow to get ready, but not on practice days. I throw on exercise clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth, and pull my hair up into a ponytail or tuck it under a cap. These ladies have only seen me once this season on a day when I washed my hair.
Absent is the polish we’ll apply later when we go home and clean up. I wonder how often we as women allow appearance and its trappings to build barriers between us. There are no filters here and it seems to free us.
On this damp Wednesday morning four of us venture forth under a canopy of trees, early morning mist rising from the ground, the sleep barely blinked from our eyes. It rained last night so we tread carefully, watching where our feet land on the wet boards scattered with decaying leaves.
The faintest hint of autumn moves in the air. Isn’t it interesting how the same temperature can feel different in the fall than in the spring? I welcome the cool breeze in the wake of summer’s heat, feeling guilty that the hurricane that delivered devastation to others brings me pleasant temperatures and nothing worse than a gray day (and I like gray days).
Two of us move ahead, strides quick and long as we hope to cover four miles of walking while our kids run five. We are united in no other way than by our kids’ team and only see each other during practices and meets: cross country in the fall and track in the spring. I know her children by name, but I don’t really know them (sometimes I’m not sure which kids belong to which moms). Yet the details of our lives unravel as we walk through the woods, sharing our struggles and our stories.
We wonder what life will be like when our kids graduate and move on, and the design of our days in their absence. We worry about kids who struggle with the pressures of school and of jobs. We talk about our aging parents and the importance of staying connected with them and keeping our children in their lives. Our conversation runs the gamut: from mundane moments to generational legacy. Because our everyday lives intersect only in the smallest of points, we serve as unbiased listeners, springboards for ideas, an outlet, and a much needed opportunity for adult conversation which flows on for an hour, unbroken by the steady rhythm of our strides.
The one who walks with the wise will become wise . . .
Proverbs 13:20 (CSB)
We return to the parking lot and round up our kids, saying goodbye until Saturday’s meet when we will stand on the sidelines with our families, wearing makeup, dressed for the day. I know from years past how I will feel one day soon, at season’s end: glad to turn off my 6:40 a.m. practice alarms and take back my Saturdays, but sad that the sisterhood of walking moms will disband until the spring when track season brings us together again.