I am a Treadmill Mom. Let me explain with a football analogy…
If you’ve been around me for more than 5 minutes, you know that I am a Steelers fan. I have been a fan for 45 years. I spent my childhood in a small town in Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh in the 1970s. Memories of watching the Steelers with family and friends are some of my happiest.
From age 13 on, I have lived in Maine. It hasn’t been easy to be a Steelers fan in New England over the years. My husband is a Patriots fan, so sometimes it has gotten ugly. The Steelers usually have a pretty good season, but this past season started off spectacularly. They were undefeated for 11 straight games. The best start in Steeler history. Unfortunately, the rest of the season was dismal. They made the playoffs, but…
In the first play of the playoff game quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed the snap from center. The ball went over Ben’s head, was caught a player from the opposing team, and resulted in a touchdown. The first 14 seconds of the game and we were 7 points down. The Steelers played catch up for the rest of the game, but ultimately still lost. Heartbreaking, but I will always love my beloved team.
It’s kind of like having a child that gets diagnosed with a profound disability early in life. It’s the snap that goes over your head that you weren’t expecting. You’re still in the parenting game, but you’re always trying to help your kiddo play catch up. Like you’re running on a treadmill with your kid and everyone else is running on the regular ground beside you. Blowing by you. Sure, they stop and wave and smile, but they still pass you.
Every now and then your kid is allowed to get off the treadmill and take a few steps on the regular ground, make a small advancement toward the others, but then back on the treadmill.
Like my Steelers they don’t get to advance to the Superbowl. The Superbowl of life - Independent Living. There is no college, no license, they will not live alone, and they most likely won’t get married or have children, etc. You are forever getting on and off the treadmill. You celebrate the heck out of every little victory. You learn to appreciate the small things. But it’s still so difficult to watch so much of the world sailing by you.
Your heart absolutely belongs to the people on the ground who make an effort to constantly backtrack. People that not only wave and smile, but stand beside your treadmill and stay awhile. People who could easily keep running forward but choose instead to make it their mission to bridge the gap between the treadmill and the ground. These are the natural includers and the world. These are some of the most amazing humans on earth.
And of course you also have the people on the treadmill with you. Have you heard the expression that “Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon?” Well our group makes a marathon look easy. At least in a marathon you get to stop running after 26.2 miles. We never get to stop moving on this treadmill. Ever. People on the treadmill with you are truly the only ones who know what it’s like to be in your sneakers. The love we have for our children fuels us, and somehow keeps our feet going. One foot in front of the other. Sometimes we even crawl - because we have to. We find ways to keep going even without the typical mile markers and fancy finish lines. We are incredible. I am proud to be a Treadmill Mom.
If you know a Treadmill Parent you know a real life superhero.
(And yes, there is a filter on this picture of me. This is what I would have looked like, maybe, in a selfie at 25. Ha! )