By Veronica

Back before I had children, I walked for exercise. I love walking. I love getting to know the landscape and the neighborhoods and the birds and the human oddballs. My method of walking for exercise was very simple: I walked away from my home until I was so tired that I could not walk anymore. Then I turned around and walked back. This meant I was always walking twice as far as I thought I could. Forcing myself to walk even when exhausted gradually made me stronger, so I could walk longer and longer distances.

I don’t get much chance to walk anymore. None of my babies would tolerate more than a mile or two, and breastfeeding made it impractical for me to be away from them for a truly long walk. But my endurance for other things has increased.

Last Saturday, I fed, dressed, loaded and buckled four kids for a morning of errands. I won’t tell you the soundtrack of giggles or screams or whines or sobs that accompanied my morning; you can imagine it for yourself. We went to the library, where they played with toys and exchanged read books for unread ones. Then we reloaded and rebuckled and drove to the big warehouse store to restock the bulk items we buy.

The baby wears a hip brace that prevents her from fitting into the seat of a shopping cart, so I held the baby in my left arm and seated the middle two kids in the cart’s seats. My oldest walked alongside me as I pushed the cart with my right arm. After a few yards I realized this cart veered to the left, but we were already inside so I struggled on.

Somewhere in the middle of the store the baby in my left arm got heavier, the cart got even more awkward, the children began to whine, and I realized, I can’t do this. It had been a difficult weekend, taking care of the kids alone, uncertain whether the baby will need surgery, uncertain about the future of my husband’s job, and struggling to steer that stupid cart finally broke me. I cannot do this.

But I had to.

Leaving the cart and getting the kids out and trekking back to the door would have been even more work, and the shopping would still need to be done. Even if I couldn’t, I had to. The longer I am a parent, the more I find myself doing things that I just cannot do. Like always walking twice as far as I thought I could, parenting has given me stamina.

And even though I am very, very tired, that gives me hope.

14 Responses to Stamina
  1. Jessica
    April 7, 2009 | 6:30 am

    That is so true and it is amazing to see how God lifts us up and gives the extra strength we need each day!

  2. Jo
    April 7, 2009 | 7:31 am

    The Little Engine that Could has nothing on you, Veronica. Loved this post. It’s good to be stretched, even when we hate the process. I’m thinking about what James wrote….considering the trials joy because they produce endurance, and endurance character. Sounds like that’s what you’re living these days!

  3. edj
    April 7, 2009 | 9:37 am

    Yes, yes, yes. I had 3 kids in 20 months and people would say, “I don’t know how you do it.” But I had to. What else could I do?

    Once I asked for prayer for patience. Someone said, “Oh never ask for that–you’ll get tested in that area!” I said, “What worse could happen?”

    It does get easier. But maybe that’s in part because we’re building endurance.

  4. Beck
    April 7, 2009 | 9:51 am

    It’s funny. I now know how much harder I can try, just simply because quitting doesn’t just affect me. But whoo, that deep maternal exhaustion – there’s nothing else quite like it, is there?

  5. Anamoyous
    April 7, 2009 | 11:44 am

    Your little one sounds like my nieces. If you haven’t, ask a Mason about their free hospitals/doctors that specialize in legs/feet/hips. The girls hospital bills and surgery and doctors are and have been free until they are 18 years of age and some of the shoes but all of the things that are done to the shoes are free. We are close to the Shirne hospital is St. Louis and it specializes in legs/feet/hips and burns. Also, Ronald McDonald houses are real. They do what they say. Parents stay free. Some light housekeeping duties.

  6. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises
    April 7, 2009 | 3:37 pm

    I’m with you! I know just what you mean about parenting increasing our stamina and abilities. 🙂

    I was wondering if there was any way you could wear your little one when you’re in the store – even with the brace- maybe a wrap or something? I don’t know if you’re able to or not, I’m sure you’ve thought of it, but I just thought I’d throw it out there. 🙂

  7. Nicole
    April 7, 2009 | 10:39 pm

    Wow. I’m exhausted just reading this. Wow. The physical endurance you need just to be a mother, running errands…I remember just taking my two little ones out, it seemed like a marathon.

    You can do it! You can do it!

  8. Kimberly
    April 8, 2009 | 10:22 am

    Everything is harder as a parent than I thought it would be. The emotional stamina I need to parent just two is MUCH more than I ever thought. I just sometimes want everyone to stop needing me and talking to me and touching me!!

  9. jolyn
    April 8, 2009 | 12:53 pm

    I have sometimes found myself in a place where I am so deeply exhausted with my children that I find I have absolutely no more energy or mental capacity for anything but that moment. It’s those times, those moments that feel like pure survival, that often provide me with clarity and purpose. It feels like so much more than I am capable of, so I shut down all but the bare essentials: placing one foot in front of the other; conserving my energy; keeping my tone level.

    The irony is that once I finally succumb to that point, I find myself being a better mom. Because I have given up on trying to control the situation, I have more patience and higher tolerance. The kids will scream and whine and ask repetitive questions. People will look or ignore and judge regardless. None of that matters. And it’s in those moments that I often see most clearly what really does.

  10. Grandma Sandy
    April 8, 2009 | 2:54 pm

    You would have been a wonderful encouragement when I was raising kids in the 80’s. Fortunately, I can send a link to your blog to my daughter who’s raising a 3 year old and a 4 month old and she can be encouraged!

  11. Liz
    April 8, 2009 | 9:00 pm

    Veronica, I just caught up on TD and the baptism post plus this have reduced me to tears. I don’t care the age range or subject matter, when you publish your book I’m going to buy it. So let me know. Or anything else you publish in the meantime.

  12. Keep Up With Me
    April 15, 2009 | 7:29 am

    Walking For Fun and Exercise…

    (This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)
    I’m a huge fan of walking, but I think it gets a bad rap sometimes. We all know that it’s a great activity for people who are just starting to exercise and need something that’s simple and low-impact. But th…

  13. Melissa
    May 6, 2009 | 9:46 am

    thank you for this post feelin gexhausted and in tears with my first born and your post is so true it energized me instantly….I know I can make it but seeing how others are going through the same helps loads and makes miracles

  14. Para Ma
    April 15, 2012 | 2:07 pm

    Websites you should visit…

    […]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[…]……

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