One mom shares her empowering reason for why she’s taking a break from parenting on Mother's Day to get muddy at an obstacle course with friends

By Cari Wira Dineen
May 08, 2015

Mother's Day is on the horizon, and retailers across the country are attempting to appeal to grateful and guilt-ridden husbands and children everywhere. Flowers, jewelry, perfume, spa gift certificates, over-priced brunches, you name it. And every year, us moms accept our gifts, our pats on the back, our recognition. We enjoy our 24 hours of shining in the sun-the spit-up stains, dirty dishes, and poopy pants relegated to someone else for the day.

A recent poll found that what moms want most is not those dutiful gifts, but a day off from parenting or some much needed sleep. But while drinking a bottle of wine, binge watching a favorite show, and a clean house (all runners up on that survey) all sound good to me too, pulling on some old spandex pants and stinky sneakers, loading into a van with five of my friends, then driving an hour (without my kids) to the Mudderella mud run, a non-competitive, seven mile, muddy obstacle course just for women sounds way better.


See for me, the backlash isn't on Mother's Day. It's on my entire self-prescribed role of being a mom. After getting pregnant with my first child, I felt physically trapped by childbearing and childrearing (being pregnant, breastfeeding, being pregnant again, breastfeeding again, and all of the other parental stuff that traps you-drop offs, pick ups, the fact that I'm the only one who seems capable of trimming the kids' toenails). I had a c-section and VBAC [vaginal birth after c-section], both of which left my lower body a bit unrecognizable (I won't even get into what nursing two kids did to my once perky boobs). The transformation into motherhood really messed with my physical and mental identity: When I was pregnant with both of my children, I used to dream of surfing and rock climbing-two sports I've never done in my life. I think it was because I so desperately wanted my body back; for it to feel strong, capable and, most importantly, mine.

Then, after my second was born, I fell into a not-so-uncommon emotional rut of mommy martyrdom: constantly putting myself last and resenting my kids and husband for it. I didn't know how to juggle all these kids and their wants and needs, so I became like Pavlov's dog; I would just respond no matter what. Over time, my needs and wants, whether that was to go to the gym or to just sit and stare out the window, withered away.

But this year, with my youngest almost two, I decided to pull myself up by my bra straps and say, "Enough is enough." I got my butt back to the gym, I started skiing again, I took up yoga. I started to feel strong and independent again. And with all of those positive feelings, I was able to finally see my role as motherhood not as oppressive, but as one that is actually powerful and strong. Hell, I carried those babies in my belly for a collective 18 months (and subsequently in a Bjorn and in an Ergo). And I continue to carry them, sometimes one under each arm, sometimes while they're screaming and kicking. But most importantly, I carry them-and my whole family-through this endless obstacle course called life. And that takes a strength I didn't know I had.

So this Mother's Day, I don't want to drink a bottle of wine to numb myself to the stress. And I don't want to sit in a spa, trying to relax while my endless to-do list runs on a loop in my head. And I sure as hell don't want to take my little monsters, um, munchkins, to a restaurant.


Nope, I want to leave my mama-life behind for a few hours. I want to run and play in the mud with my friends, not thinking one iota about my kids. I want to celebrate how strong my body and mental endurance are-both while taking on the Mudderella challenge. I want to accomplish this because deep down, I have self-doubt about whether or not I actually can-and when I do finish it, I want to feel super proud of myself and share that feeling with my friends. I'm ready to "own my strong" (that's the Mudderella tag line), climbing ropes, crawling through tunnels, and jousting walls. This day is for me. Not as a mom, but as an empowered woman. And when it's all said and done and the mud's been hosed off, my sneakers have been tossed in the trash, and my muscles ache, I'll take that bottle of wine and drink it down, not to self-medicate, but to self-celebrate. (This definitely should be one of the 11 Occasions That Deserve a Sparkly Ring.)