The Mama Marathon

April 30th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Out and About | travel with kids

I recently took my two “big kids”, Liam (5) and Ciara (3) on a trip to Boston. Our adventure was motivated by the desire to see my sister run the Boston Marathon… an elite race that is, in my opinion, a true testament to human dedication and achievement. My sister is a remarkable person; she has a seven month old son, a high-pressure job in San Francisco and literally flew in to Boston from a two-week business trip in Brazil to run 26.2 miles. So, I figured, if she could pull this all off, the very least I could do is be there to cheer her on.

Here’s the thing though… our trip was preceded by our own marathon of sorts. Our weekends are typically busy but this one was especially so. On Thursday night, my husband left for a conference in Florida, leaving me home alone with our five tots five and under. Which is fine. I’ve always said, “We made them, it’s up to us to take care of them!” However, on this occasion, I was still recovering from major abdominal surgery. The first day I was even allowed to pick up any of our kids was Friday. Given this, I hoped for a quiet, peaceful Thursday night. No such luck.

Poor Ciara woke up at 11:00 with a bad case of the barfs. Believe me, I’ve seen more than my fair share of vomit but this time, I was really impressed. She somehow managed to take out her entire bed, the wall, the rug and best of all, a bookcase… and all of its contents. Then, as I was testing out the “bedding” setting on our new washing machine (at midnight!), I heard a blood curdling scream and found my poor little lady hurling INTO her sleeping bag. Unfortunately, I had taken the lazy way out and instead of changing her sheets, I simply popped her into her sleeping bag and, paid the price!

As Friday morning dawned, I thought about our weekend plans. Saturday was our town’s Earth Day celebration and I was hoping to drag all five kids to the farmers market and other festivities. Sunday was my grandfather’s 90th birthday… and, birthday party – an extended family extravaganza that promised to be both fun and frenzied. The plan was for Des to fly home from Florida and meet me at the birthday bash. I would then hand over our one-year old triplets, pack Liam and Ciara into the car and head to the train station where we’d hop on a train to Boston and go to the marathon on Monday. Sounds exhausting, right? Well, that’s pretty much the way it went down and I must say, it was!

As I hustled the kids onto the Amtrak to Boston, numerous people remarked “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” And quite literally, I did. I was juggling and jostling my way through the narrow aisle with a double stroller I had to collapse and carry, two kids, each of whom had their own cute little bag they refused to carry, my overnight bag and my bag full of Mama Magic – a.k.a. enough snacks and activities to keep the kids occupied on the three and a half hour ride! By the time we met my sister in her hotel room, I was a wreck. She, on the other hand, was the picture of calm as she laid out her marathon clothes and tucked in for the night.

On Monday morning, the sun was shining as our cheering committee headed out to root for the runners. By Monday afternoon however, the clouds had thickened and a chilly breeze arrived with gusto. After about 24 hours with their primary sustenance consisting of Goldfish, Kix and raisins, my poor kids started to whine with gusto… “We’re cold. We’re hungry. We’re TIRED.” And you know how I responded? “Oh yeah, well your Aunt Kristin is cold, hungry and tired too! And you don’t see her quitting, do you?!”

Needless to say, I don’t think the marathon itself is going to be the fondest of memories for Liam and Ciara — even though we did see my sister fly by as she finished with gusto at 3:44 — an amazing time for anyone but even more so for a jet-lagged new mom! In any case, rather than boasting about Aunt Kristin’s accomplishments, my “big kids” are much more likely to recall the thrill of the conductor yelling “ALL ABOARD” as we hopped on the train home. Sometimes it feels like every day is a marathon but as I watched the kids gaze out the window with awe, it reminded me once again that life is as much about the journey as the destination.

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