The first time I went out with my now-husband, we were merely colleagues. We had worked at the same school together for a year, with barely more than a friendly hello in the hallway between us. I respected him as a teacher since I heard only glowing reviews from students and colleagues alike, but didn’t think of him much beyond that. We were in different departments, on different floors, the bachelor and the married older mom. Not a lot of common ground there.
Then my life unraveled. My ex-husband moved out. Suddenly, nothing made sense. So when the Latin teacher asked if I wanted to grab lunch one day, I figured that wasn’t any weirder than anything else going on. Besides, he was friendly with everyone at school, so he probably pitied the suddenly single mother of 3.
I don’t remember much about that lunch; I don’t remember much about 2010. But I do remember our conversation stumbling on to sports, and telling the Latin teacher that once upon a time, I swam for my college swim team.
“What do you do now? You know, to work out?” he asked. I wearily responded that “working out” was very low on the totem pole of priorities. In truth, breathing was still an effort at that exact moment in time.
“What?! But you’re an athlete. C’mon! You should do something! What about getting in the pool again?”
Hesitantly, I admitted that a few of my close girlfriends had recently taken up hot yoga, and loved it, and that maybe if I could find the time and money, that might be good for me…
(and this next part I remember vividly)
“Yoga? YOGA? You’re an athlete. DIVISION I! What are you talking about with this yoga shit?”
He followed this with a 10 minute lecture about how I could definitely, absolutely, work out if I just made it a priority. It’s all about priorities. I needed to make myself important and take care of myself.
Said the bachelor Latin teacher with no children.
I know. To his credit, he’s since admitted that he was rather … ignorant … of my life situation and circumstances.
But I knew, even then, that his diatribe was not only coming from a place of ignorance about just how hard parenting (not to mention single parenting) and divorce and working full time is, but also genuine admiration for the athleticism I once possessed. He was so impressed by the person I once was (or at least, he perceived me to be, based solely on hearing of my many years of intense swimming), and wanted me to tap into that determination, tenacity, perseverance, with all I had before me.
He’s a pretty smart guy.
Here’s the thing about my husband. That enthusiasm? That belief that I can do anything I set my mind to? That I am too talented, too special, to merely be ordinary? That I can overcome any obstacles or limits because I’m just that damn good? Has never wavered.
He saw who I am now when I was at the lowest point in my entire life. I felt worthless. My self-esteem, relatively weak to begin with, was absolutely shredded when we had that first lunch. But he saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.
He hasn’t stopped pestering me since.
After my very first 5k ever, the 2011 Heroes for Children 5k.
Still only doing one “race” per year, the 2012 Heroes for Children 5k.
With the kids at the 2013 Heroes for Children 5k
Trying to pump me up before the 5 mile Turkey Trot
Sometimes, he even surprised me on training runs.
I even got him to run a race with me. Well, not exactly with me. He beat me.
At the end of the day, I know that this is my accomplishment. I logged the miles. I get up at 5am to squeeze runs in before work, or at 6am on weekends to put in a long run before soccer games and play dates. I carve out the time, muster up the energy, and make it a priority. Make myself a priority.
I’m just not entirely sure I would see myself, would have ever seen myself, as that important before my husband saw me that way first.
He’s my biggest fan, my loudest cheerleader.
He’s my own personal Craig.