I have many guilty pleasures, but the top two by far, the two that always leave me feeling selfish and a little spoiled are knitting and running. In the winter I knit and in the summer I run. I love the rhythm of each, the consistency and how any tension in your body is obvious in your stitches the way it's equally apparent in your stride. Furious days get taken out on the road, or find half started projects completely unwoven. These pasttimes are my saving grace more often than I can imagine. They bring sanity to my day and connect me to something bigger and more ancient than myself. I love the idea of people running all over the world, running to tell a story, to share their river with a friend, to set a record, to get milk. I love that people have been running since time began, and that they each run to their own rhythm, in their own way.
Knitting does the same thing for me, in a weird way. The steady hand of a consistent tension, my own quiet rhythm, knowing that women (men too, I'm sure) have been tying these knots and weaving yarn into fabric for centuries in the same way I am, with the same stitches. I love it.
I mentioned that I was training for a half (Full hopefully!) marathon and my well-intentioned coworker said innocently, "Don't you feel so selfish when you run?" Which I didn't before she asked, but now, can't get out of my head. It's true, I prefer to run without children. Charlotte can ride her bike, but wants to take every side road to look for frogs, and I'm trying to hit a new personal best. Henry just screams. Likewise, it's very difficult to knit and parent. The objects I've knit while nursing certainly look like someone was distracted throughout their creation. My happiest knitting moments are popping in an audio book and getting lost in the story while counting stitches. Somewhat at odds with an ever-narrating 6 year old and a hands on toddler.
So what's a girl to do? This week, I've logged 8 miles (so far!) with Henry in the jogstroller, safely strapped in and screaming at the top of his lungs. But, we live in the country, and I just turn the music up and push through. He keeps coming back for more though, walks right over to the stroller and climbs in; he just would prefer if I walked instead of ran, and gets pretty upset if I break my pace at all, or turn in a direction he's not expecting. It doesn't help with the selfish feeling, and probably just makes it a bit worse. Now, I'm trying to do something that I enjoy, when it's clear to every car driving by that my son is miserable, and I'm making him do it anyway, which certainly takes some of the enjoyment away.... sigh...
So if the question is "how to be a less selfish parent", is there an answer that isn't "don't run and don't knit?" If there is, I'm not sure I want to hear it. And perhaps that's the wrong question altogether. Maybe the better question is "When am I going to be able to bring an even stride to my parenting?" When will I have a clean house, dinner on the table at six, well behaved and polite children who go to bed the first time they are asked... and make it all look seamless.
Until that magical day comes, I'm going to keep running, and keep knitting. The kids can parent themselves for a bit.
Hug your kids/partner/pet, and make it a great day,