A few weeks ago Boston Common was packed with women and their loved ones, vendor booths, port-a-potties, and the media for the 43rd running of the Boston 10K for Women, an amazing race with the long-time and accurate motto, “Start Strong, Finish Stronger.”
I was there to run it, with my husband and two children in tow as my personal cheer squad. What I did not know was that on this, my fifth time running this race, I was going to experience a breakthrough like never before.
I know, I know. If you’re an avid runner you might be thinking, “Lady, it’s only 6.2 miles.” But bear with me here.
This is a significant distance for me and many others — but it’s about much more than the mileage.
See, I had not run this race since before getting pregnant with my daughter five years ago. She is my second child. She was born in the summer of 2015. And I did not run this race that year, or in 2016, 2017, or 2018. Even though I had run this race four times prior to having her, something was different this time. Some say recovering from having your second child is often harder than the first time around. And there may be some truth to that. But I would venture to say that in my case, it was something much bigger than that.
It was the maternal wall.
The thing is, many women — myself included — experience what I have learned to refer to as “running into the maternal wall.” This can happen in our personal or professional lives (or both). The maternal wall can make us feel stuck and unable to live a life where we can follow our dreams and be someone other than Mom.
And during that 10K, I broke through my maternal wall. Everything hurt, I didn’t think I could complete the race, I had on-and-off chills and heart palpitations. I listened to a prayer podcast while doing breathing exercises. My son’s voice played in my head over and over, saying, “Good luck, mama, I hope you finish.” I kept telling myself I had to give it my all, not for anyone other than myself and those babies who made me a mother.
And somehow, after 59 minutes and 22 seconds, with tears in my eyes, nausea, and a little bit of pee in my pants (just keeping it real here), I crossed that finish line. I knew then and there that I had broken through so many “impossibles” that had been building up around me since I became a mom. I felt incredibly proud of myself in that moment. But best of all, I knew I was forever changed.
But you don’t have to run a race to break through your maternal wall.
We all have some version of a 10K in our lives. We all have a challenge ahead of us that we can use to break through the maternal wall. And we can shatter all the ideas out there that limit us as women who happen to also be moms. I hope my story will inspire you to find out what your 10K is and decide that you will get through it and come out stronger than when you started. I know you can.