I was talking to a friend the other day and she pointed out that I seem way less stressed and anxious this training cycle than I did while training for Gansett. And when she said that, I realized that she was absolutely right.
Part of the reason my Gansett training was so tough was that it followed right on the heels of Hartford. I had a couple months off, but that isn't much when you're talking about throwing yourself right back into an intense 4-month training program, with a big PR in mind at the end.
Physically the training went well, but mentally, I was a complete basket case. I was filled with doubt, and I was in constant mental combat with myself, trying to overcome that doubt. And I was just plain tired. Tired of being on a training plan. Tired of having to hit certain paces every time I ran. Tired of not being able to just put on my sneakers and run for the fun of it.
I don't think I'll ever run two marathons in a single year again. I know a lot of people do it and they handle it just fine. But for me, personally, it was just too much.
But since I had a whole 9 months between running Gansett and beginning my Boston training, I went into it ready and excited to tackle the miles and cross off the workouts. And aside from a few hiccups, I've maintained a decidedly positive attitude the past 13.5 weeks, which has been a nice change.
As I head into this weekend and my final 20-miler, despite the ickiness of the past week's allergy incidents, I'm still feeling good, and feeling especially happy that this is my final 20-mile run. I'm hopeful that it will go well (especially that it will be incident-free), but even if it doesn't, I know that I've got 4 other 20-mile runs under my belt, all of which went better than I ever could have anticipated.
But I'm not alone in having something to celebrate this week - Gabe and Carmine have some big milestones, too.
And Carmine's is actually one that I get to celebrate with him, because it's as much a milestone for me as it is for him - he is now 99% potty-trained!!!! After 9 years of changing diapers every single day, I am so, so close to never changing another one again. There are no words to adequately express how happy this makes me.
People have asked me what I did to make it happen so quickly - it really only took about 4 days - but I didn't do much at all. I started putting him in underwear, we stayed close to home for a few days, and he basically did it on his own. Sure, I gave him incentives (in the form of jelly beans), and I encouraged him and congratulated him, but I basically just got lucky that I seem to have picked the exact right time, when he was really ready for it. Timing is everything!
For Gabe, the milestone is his birthday - the ninth one, to be exact. As with all of the boys as their birthdays approach, I'm kind of dumbfounded as to how so much time has already passed.
He clearly looks like a 9-year-old now, and sometimes he acts like one - but the male stereotype definitely holds true with him, and he is in no danger of acting too mature for his age.
Thankfully, he's having one of his best years of school ever. I attribute this entirely to his teachers, as they have done an absolutely amazing job keeping him as focused as possible, and helping him work to his full potential - something that is becoming harder for him, given his ADHD and the increasing complexity of the types of things he's learning about.
We are facing some tough decisions in the upcoming year - namely, whether or not to keep him at his current school through the 5th grade, or to pull him out and have him move to the middle school (which is 5th and 6th grade) for 5th, so that he's entering that environment at the same time as all of his peers, rather than coming in as 'the new kid' in 6th grade.
I think there are pros and cons either way, but for someone like Gabe, we're more inclined to believe that it would be better for him to be with that same group of kids for two full years - and to have those two full years in the middle school setting.
Transitions typically do not go smoothly for him, and this is going to be a doozy of a transition, and I fear that if we wait until 6th grade, by the time he's finally settling in, it'll be time for him to move on again to the junior high school for 7th and 8th.
What makes me sad (and nervous), though, is the thought of taking him out of this incredible, nurturing, small, fun, and vibrant community that he's been so fortunate to be a part of for the past 4 years. I know it's going to happen eventually, but there's a part of me that wants to let him spend that one additional year there, where I know he'll flourish.
That's not to say that I think he's not going to do well in middle school - but it's going to be a vastly different experience, both for him and for us, and although he's got an IEP in place to help us all navigate the waters as we make these changes, I still worry about how well that's all going to translate in the 'regular' public school system.
Two or three years ago, this all seemed like it was so far off, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it. But now it's right on our doorstep, and like everything else that comes up with these boys of mine, it all seems like it's rushing forward far too quickly.
When you're living this life with three young kids, and you're caught up in the day-to-day, and some days it seems like it's all you can do to just survive 'til bedtime, it's hard to remember what they were like years, and even months ago. And it's just as hard to imagine what they'll be like months and years in the future.
I took Carmine to a park a few weeks ago that happens to be right next to the high school, and it was an unusally warm day, and there were a bunch of teenage boys sitting outside the cafeteria eating their lunch. As I watched them, it occurred to me that it really isn't going to be very long before Gabe is one of those boys. And Dante, too. (not Carmine - I just got him potty-trained - I still have some time before I start thinking of him as a teenager!!!)
And even though the inevitability of that stares me in the face every day, as I watch them outgrow their clothes, and read ever-more-complex books, and eat me out of house and home - I still can't think of them as anything but the age they are at this very moment in time.
I suppose that's a good thing. Because even though at this very moment in time, Gabe is a master at testing the waters of back talk, and honing his skills as the exasperated and always put-upon oldest child, he's also still more than happy to curl up on the couch and hold my hand, and to dance around the living room (with not the least bit of self-consciousness) with Carmine, and to wear bunny ears at Easter.
And he's also the boy who, because he was so excited last night about his birthday, was in his bed sobbing at 9:30pm because he was sure that he would "never, ever get to sleep because he had three thousand thoughts running around in his head."
That nearly brought me to tears, and I spent 15 minutes sitting on his bed, rubbing his back until his eyes closed and his breathing slowed and he fell asleep.
I know that we very soon will be entering a phase where he's going to encounter a whole lot of problems that I can't really solve, so I took great comfort in being able to solve this one.