This week I picked up and finished reading Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. It was great reconnecting with her after so long, although I can't believe it's been nearly 20 years since the first book was published. But despite being 51 in the book, widowed with two kids (Mark Darcy, sadly, died in an accident as an aids worker in a war-torn country), she's still the same kooky character to which many women can relate to, with the same insecurities, foibles and questions about life.
There were a few things I couldn't believe, however:
- The sheer volume of calories the woman consumes in one day - sometimes ingesting 4,000 to 5,000 calories in one day!
- The amount of shredded cheese the woman can eat - sometimes eating two bags in one night. I mean really?
- The ease with which she seems to be able to drop 40 pounds, simply by going to a diet clinic and despite her binge-like eating habits. Not to mention, the fact that she rarely seems to work out (Zumba and yoga classes are sprinkled sparsely throughout her regime). And then she keeps them off!
But what really hit home with me was that Bridget's story is like that of so many mothers who I know - widowed or not. With two kids at home with busy school and social demands, not to mention trying to get her screenplay written and published and find a man, it's no wonder Bridget can't seem to fit in a fitness class.
I was going to say that if Bridget decided to train for a long-distance race, I'm not sure how long she'd last. Her lifestyle has never been exactly healthy or active (number of martinis consumed: 7, number of minutes on exercise bike, which is serving as clothes horse, 0, number of hours spent obsessing about whether should join marathon training group: 5).
But then again, no matter the challenge, she always does manage to get it done - whether covering up after a silly gaffe when she was a reporter, or getting her screen play picked up and produced (even though she'd spelled the main character's name, which is based on a historical character, wrong ever since pitching the idea) or even just ensuring that her children are well-balanced and happy despite having lost their father and despite feeling like she's going to fall apart at the seams - she always manages to pull through. If she decided to train for a marathon, she'd probably end up crossing that finish line, although perhaps not upright and smiling, and perhaps not without ingesting a bunch of grated cheese during the training process.
We relate to Bridget precisely because her inner monologue and uncertainties mirror ours so well. Like her, the modern woman (whether a mother or not) is trying to balance so many things - career, love life, active lifestyle, technology, fashion, children, friends and social calendar...Sometimes, it really does feel like a bit too much (see my previous post on my failure to keep up with NaNoBloPoMo - and I don't even have kids!).
That's why I am always so amazed by the women who I meet who commit themselves to a long-distance running program, despite having kids at home. For them, those long runs are an opportunity to get out of the house for an hour or two and focus on themselves. I don't know how they do it, let alone making sure their children are well taken care of.
It's also why I know so many women who are long-distance runners feel the pressure to get their marathons in and qualify for Boston before they have kids, because once they do have a family, it will be that much more difficult for them to get out the door for those runs.
Since we don't have kids and don't (yet) have a dog, I realize I am blessed with a flexible and open schedule - and still, I find it difficult to fit everything in. So for those mothers who do manage to do it, whether it's running a 5k race or a marathon or qualifying for Boston, I salute you!