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Before I conceived my now 3-year-old son, I miscarried my first pregnancy. While waiting for the all-clear to start trying again, I picked up running. At first, it was a 30-minute run/walk, then a 20-minute jog, and eventually I built it up to a distance and speed of quality. What kept me pushing through was the thought, “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” I can’t control the miscarriage, I can’t control the lack of a baby in nine months and I can’t control the fear for future pregnancies. But here, during this run, I am in control.

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After we brought our second child home and the visitors returned to their regularly scheduled programs, I was thrown into life as a stay-at-home mother of two. The house was a perpetual mess, the laundry piled up in corners of respective bedrooms and I could feel myself slipping into a sea of baby blues.

After a particularly rough morning juggling the needs and demands of a toddler and newborn, I decided to maximize my daughter’s morning nap time. I handed my toddler the iPad, put on some feel good tunes and hopped on the treadmill. Again, the thought that got me through a miscarriage came back to me: “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” I can’t control the baby’s witching hours, I can’t control the attention-seeking meltdowns by my toddler, I can’t control the lack of sleep we are all suffering from. But right here and right now, this is in my control.

When I finished my measly reintroduction to the running game, I texted my husband and told him I could feel the clouds parting and the frustration melting. The brief 30 minutes I demanded for myself gave me a sense of clarity that is often hard to find within the groundhog days of motherhood. I found I could tolerate the tantrums of my toddler and the shrieks of my infant without spiraling into a dark, powerless hole. This revelation motivated me to get on the treadmill the next day, and the next day and the day after that.

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That was nine months, about 180 runs, and approximately 720 miles ago. Every morning before I open the bedroom doors to the day’s dose of chaos, I lace up my running shoes in anticipation of the morning nap. While the beats blare in my ears and my feet find their stride, I tell myself, “I cannot control anything except for this run, right now.” In the words of the great Janet Jackson, “I’m in control.”