By Cristin Trecroce

I read my text message: “Mom’s Marathon” in one hour. We are already here, Mom. Good luck!” I forgot all about the Mom’s marathon that I have been training for these last 3 years. Today is the big day. My family is already waiting for me there. Where are my sneakers and clothes? Think fast, Cristin. Then it clicks. They are in the car. I am ready to go.

At the start line I see all of my Mom-friends. They are in perfect form, except for a few fumbling like me last minute to pull their hair back and tie their shoes. Most seem rested, looking confident to finish the race in record time. I pin on my race number and notice some of the other mom’s outfits they are wearing. Their neon-streaked sneakers seem to match their shorts. Oh no, did I change from my pajama bottoms? We give each other broad smiles, high fives and shouts of good luck. I look down to see that I am still in my PJ’s.

My heart pounds, I feel so unprepared and nervous. Will I make it? Have I eaten the right kind of breakfast today? Did I hydrate enough? Where did we say we’d meet after the race? Did I get the dog in the crate before I left? Is the dryer still on? Thoughts start racing through my mind. Then the gun shot fires. We are off for the race. My first stride feels strong and wide. I stretch my leg forward with all of my effort and the wind feels like it is nudging me from behind. Then I go down. My whole body crashes to the dirt. What’s happening? Even though I feel like I can make it to my feet, the other moms keep passing me. Some seem to be trying to pull me up and others I cannot escape from under their feet. I am swept under in a rush of other more prepared better-trained moms. I look at my own shoes. My shoelaces are tied together.

This is my day mare. Each day feels like a race that I am unprepared for. It’s always the same ground-hog day episode of racing with homework, office work, cleaning, answering calls, responding to patient labs and messages. I am full time Mom (in a part-time schedule), part-time physician (but stretched to a full-time schedule) and in between, I also function as wife, friend, neighbor, daughter and a whole bunch more. My schedule does not add up to what I can handle most days. If only I could be robotic and not require food, water or sleep. Then all problems would be solved.

My husband is a gem. He is hard-working and a devoted father. He is truly the other half of me. I see him in passing from time to time. He’s in charge of the “he” things of the household and kids. My job is during the week and my husband’s is all weekend of a long four day weekend. While I am at work, I forget I have kids. I disengage from everything except my patients. So it is vital that my husband is available to our family on the days I work. Likewise his ER responsibilities, as a physician assistant, are demanding. He may call home for a few minutes on his shift, but there is no lunch or coffee breaks in an ER. So his time is limited to anything but work on the days he works.

I have to admit, some days I like the challenge. Can I fit it all in? Can I pull off a super cool 7-year-old birthday party and still make it to the gym for more than two days in a row while planning healthy dinners my kids won’t push away and take care of my office work? You bet! Some days are much better than others.

I am always inspired by other women who seem to have it all. Most especially I feel fortunate to have the position that I do because I see when people are at their weakest. I try to learn from others who seem more equipped for obstacles, while allowing myself to feel inadequate once in a while too. It’s okay to not have it together. I explain it that way to patients as if I am talking to myself. No one trains you for what life’s race has in store. Seeing and treating patients when they are most vulnerable reminds me of the real goal in life. We all have the same basic end-points to achieve. I see some amazing people who seem to have nothing but challenges go on and win personal races. Some days it’s not about finishing or even being in the race. Some days we are the ones helping another racer from their fall, or simply just untying their shoelaces. A simple thoughtful gesture or time-saving idea or recipe could lift another mom to success.

Whatever your position is in the “Mom’s Marathon,” don’t just take notice of the coordinated outfits with neon sneakers of some moms, but also look down at their shoelaces. You never know, yours may be accidentally tied to someone else’s laces someday.