A few years back (okay, 15 years back) while still in college I was dating a hot guy no longer in college. We were on a ski date when I was first introduced to the term “Betty.” It’s what he called me during a bump run on the back bowls of Vail. I was holding my own with this guy on the slopes, he called me hot and it was nice.
It was what I ended up calling my inner self during those years. (The pre-kids, I’m an adult but no real responsibilities years.) A sort of self pep talk, a confidence booster, a part of my identity. And as each boyfriend came and went, the Betty inside still shined. She could keep up with the guys, learned to Telemark ski in the back country and how to white water kayak. She slept in the back of the Subaru to save on lodging during snow dumps and raced up mountains.
I found a guy who loved the outdoors too and made me breakfast con cafe while camping. I was hooked and we scaled Kilimanjaro a month before our wedding. I since then had two little kids, and while I did kayak with my first at 5 months pregnant, my new boat has seen the inside of the garage pretty much ever since then.
These days I’m not a hundred percent sure where Betty is. Is it motherhood, multiple responsibilities or just getting older that has seemed to dull her drive? I have other accomplishments: two little shining kiddos, two mortgages, a few degrees and a respectable job. It’s the Betty part of me that I sometime miss.
Let’s look at the facts – we made it skiing this year TWICE. For about two hours each. Last year I got into my boat on one weekend (and I forgot to put on my pfd – aka life jacket- during the first run). I’m a little scared to kayak again. We cancelled our camping trip this weekend because of rain. Rain. A little bit of foul weather. But who wants to entertain a toddler while holed up in a tent?
Each decision is based on the amount of brain damage involved in getting the kids there. A camping adventure versus a wrecked sleep schedule for weeks thereafter. It’s always a tough call. In the meantime, Betty atrophies a little more. And so I’m trying, really hard to make peace with that person I used to be. I know some of you are too. Your Betty may have shined by dancing all night and rocked the presentation at work the next morning. You could mingle with anyone. These days it’s hard to form sentences. You know what I’m talking about – there used to be a part of yourself that was somehow stronger, better, funner.
The struggle is to embrace where we are right now. With little tykes in tow it’s hard to keep our best selves up. Yes, there are moms who are back at it within 6 months of giving birth, but my guess is they had to make sacrifices along the way. When re-evaluating my goals and priorities I always, always come back to the same one – I want to spend as much time with the little people as possible. They grow daily. Be there. Which means my life for now isn’t much about me or my inner Betty. For now, someone else is sometimes rowing the boat.
I see mom friends running marathons again. Heck, some of them even win first place. So I think there is hope. But I think it’s more about making peace with where we are in life right now. The Betty of right now is okay with hobbling around the 2.2 mile loop around Wash Park and maybe a trail run in the foothills on the rare occasion. I get to sleep in with my kids and I don’t have to train for anything. And I was pretty proud of myself for kayaking a class III run last summer, even if it was just once. Maybe I will get in my boat again this summer. Maybe I won’t. The important thing is that I haven’t lost my inner Betty completely, no matter how far away she seems. Someday she may even be back in full force (do I dare to hope?) However, for now, those snuggles taking place today somehow seem more important.