I have a daughter who just turned 8. She is cute as a button and strong-willed; has bright, blue eyes; is strong-willed; has perfect little dimples; and to top it all off, is extremely strong-willed.
Did I mention she is strong-willed?
My sweet little girl can be difficult sometimes. She takes issue with a lot of things, is very opinionated, and as her mother, it becomes quite stressful sometimes. And try as I may, there are times when she and I don't quite see eye-to-eye, making for perhaps not the most ideal of relationships — probably because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
This past week, however, a good friend of mine, who has four daughters, invited us to run in an all-girl 5K, called Utah Runner Girls 5K. Having taken my daughter on a few little runs in the past, I knew even if we had to walk some of it or even most of it, she would be able to finish. So I said yes.
Little did I know that decision would change the relationship I have with my daughter for the better.
The morning of the race started like any other morning, except she woke up, got dressed and ate her breakfast without any argument. Come to think of it, that morning was nothing like any other morning we've had before — or at least for a long time.
When we got to the race, she held my hand, something that is completely unlike her. In fact, she wouldn't let go until the start of the race.
As we ran and as I heard her little feet running on the pavement (her four steps to my one), I was in awe of her ability to keep going. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She had a smile unlike any I'd seen before.
When I asked if she wanted to stop and walk, she said, “No, I want to go faster.” When I slowed down on the uphills, she charged, cruising past people two and three-times her age. It was quite the sight to see.
When things got hard, which they did, I was given the chance to encourage her through each step, something I remember my dad doing when we ran together when I was a child.
As we neared the end, and as she sprinted to the finish line — having not even stopped the entire 3.1 miles — I saw something in her that I had seen before, but this time it was different. I saw that same strong will of hers that I so struggled with at home, but instead, it was being used to complete something that even some adults have a difficult time doing.
I learned a lot about my daughter that day. Not only did I learn she is a great little runner, but I was able to see her personality and passion in a different light. I am now more appreciative of the way she is. When I see that little spark come out, I know that it is her being her. I know not to fight it but to embrace it and to help channel it into something positive.
I am so glad for the chance to have run this race with my daughter, and the opportunity it gave me to become a better mother.
I can't wait to do it again.
Arianne Brown is a graduate of SUU, mother to five young kids, and an avid runner. For more articles by her, go to her blog at timetofititin.com