Picture it – Small Town, Massachusetts, 1978. A-dork-able eight-year old girl, blonde Mark Hamill haircut (my mother swears she told them “Dorothy Hamill” haircut, but pictures of the era back up my contention that she indeed said “Mark Hamill a/k/a Luke Skywalker” haircut), tattered copy of “Little House on the Prairie” in her hand, arguing futilely with her mother about one of life’s great injustices, the details of which have been lost to the sands of time.
After several minutes of what is no doubt rational, logical debate on the part of the eight year old, the mother puts an end to the discussion with the following words:
“You know, I hope you have a daughter someday and I hope that she’s just like you.”
Thanks, Mom. Thanks a lot. Because my daughter is Just. Like. Me.
We have the same ears, the same sweet tooth, the same tendency linger in the bathtub. We share a love of reading, a distaste for broccoli and an affinity for sleeping late.
She loves school like me, loves to read like me and loves cookies like me. My mini-me is curious and funny and as sarcastic and snarky as strict parenting and elementary school rules will allow.
That girl is manipulative, sneaky, plays her dad and me off of each other with an ease that belies her years, and will argue until she is blue in the face simply for the sake of arguing until she is blue in the face.
Yes, Mom. I had a daughter. And she is Just. Like. Me.
Like me, she is ultra-competitive. She wants to be the best. She wants to surpass her brothers in all things and hates to lose at anything. She has the kind of attitude that makes world class athletes leave it all on the field for the glory of winning.
Unfortunately, she also shares another personality trait with me that will likely derail any Olympic aspirations she may harbor.
She, like me, is incredibly lazy. Not the kind of lazy where we lie in bed all day and avoid all of our responsibilities and make people wait on us hand and foot.
Rather, our laziness is more of the “why run when we can walk” variety. I’ve never been one to voluntarily agree to sweat. I have probably wasted the equivalent of a year’s worth on college tuition in gym memberships that I never used. I don’t volunteer to take the stairs when there’s an elevator and I tend to look for the closest parking spot. When I was a kid, I wanted to spend my summer vacations reading about Laura and Mary and fantasizing about what life was like in the Little House, not riding my bike or running aimlessly around the neighborhood like the other kids.
I probably have the only mother who’s ever screamed, “Stop reading and get outside and play!”
I see the same in my daughter. She takes books to the playground and will always pick playing tea party over a game of tag.
Last summer, I signed her and her brothers up for soccer. The boys were so excited to play and couldn’t wait to start. She made a face and asked, “If I play soccer do I have to run? How much will I have to run?”
That’s my girl!
Despite our inherent dislike for an active lifestyle, I know (and I want to teach her) that physical activity is one of the pillars of a healthy life. As much as I hate it and as much as I know that she hates it, this shouldn’t be negotiable.
She’s 5. I’m 41. She’s got time to learn this, but I’m running out of time. My life is likely half over. If I fail in teaching her to enjoy what her body is capable of, then I will be a pretty rotten mother.
With this in mind, I’ve started training for a 5K. I hate running. I loathe running. I abhor running with the burning passion of a thousand suns. I detest running on a molecular level. In my mind, running is one of Dante’s nine levels of hell, with only the Yankees and mushrooms being further down the abyss.
But I will do this for her. I will sweat and get sore and breathe so hard it feels like my heart is going to explode out of my chest.
And I will register for the Run Like a Mother 5K on Mother’s Day. Because I need to teach her to move.
And if my jeans fit better at the end of it, then maybe I’ll admit that there’s something in it for me, too!