A few weeks ago, I was nearly flattened by a case of strep throat. My whole body ached. My head felt like it was in a vice. It was not pretty. The kids knew Mommy was not right. And still, they cried for me to sing with them in the bathtub, read them bedtime stories in my usual dramatic fashion and act like my normal self.
This, I thought, is exactly how it feels to "hit the wall."
I knew from firsthand experience about the metaphorical wall because of the six marathons I've run over the years. It's that dreaded feeling that you just cannot take another step. That afternoon, I felt like I had hit mile 23. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and wait it out until my husband got home.
But the clamoring for my attention did not subside and I couldn't bring myself to lock myself in my bedroom. After some deep breaths, I picked my head up off the dining room table and talked myself through it. I pictured what I would do as soon as my relief walked through the door and just pushed on, fever, chills and all.
I am not a great athlete. But I was raised by parents who thought playing sports was important. I grumbled about softball and swimming practice back then. And yet, nearly thirty years later, I constantly find myself putting the challenges I face as a mother into the context of athletics. The lessons I learned about follow-through, discipline, teamwork and determination all apply, especially when I'm feeling exhausted, defeated and frustrated. The mental techniques for goal setting, recovery and performance seem especially relevant, too.
Sports psychologists help athletes reach their potential by teaching them how to harness their mental grit. Top competitors follow a disciplined regimen to build strength and speed and rely on a team of coaches and nutritionists to keep them at their peak. Yet often in motherhood, we assume our responsibilities come with constant self-sacrifice. We go it alone, don't ask for help and put our needs aside. Instead of elevating the physical, mental and emotional demands of our care giving duties, we are dismissive about what it takes to get the job done. We slog through, promising ourselves that tomorrow we'll get more sleep, take time to meditate or stretch, or pack ourselves energy boosting snacks (while we're making lunch for everyone else).
Former professional triathlete Susanne Achtenhagen knows this conflict well.
- Find a Therapist
- Topic Streams
- Get Help
RelationshipsLow Sexual Desire
Recently Diagnosed?Diagnosis Dictionary
- Psych Basics