Today, my four year old ran a one-mile race. It was, as it always is, awesome. He's amazing. He's got talent and drive and a sheer need to expend that energy. He definitely got that from his father... you won't catch me running unless there's a tiger chasing me, or one of my kiddos is in danger. But my oldest, when he runs, its like watching a flower bloom; he comes into his own. Its quite something to behold.
So back to today-- There were lots of races in the Race 4 Grace, but my son ran the 1-miler, and earned himself a personal record. He was hot and sweaty and all kinds of happy when he was done. After the 1-mile kids race, they also held an "Xtreme Miler" for firefighters to run with all of their gear on. For those of you who don't know, that can be upwards of 100 extra pounds of gear, and they were supposed to run only using their oxygen tanks. The starting gun went off, and it was a whole other kind of something to behold, all of those men and women, pushing themselves to their limits in memory of a young girl who lost her battle with cancer 7 years ago. I may or may not have gotten a bit misty.
The goal of the Firefighter's 1 miler was for them to work hard, but pace themselves and their oxygen, because in order to win, they had to come across the finish line having worn their masks and tanks the whole way. Naturally, toward the end, many of them were getting tired. Most of us couldn't WALK with that much extra weight, much less run with it for a mile on a warm day! In the last quarter mile, there was one firefighter who slowed down to a walk, and without thinking, my son, who had just pushed himself harder than he had been pushed before, my four-year-old who just ran a mile of his own jumped into the race and began helping to "pace" those who were slowing down. He offered words of encouragement, a big smile, and ran along side them, to help them finish the race well. It was, in a word, awesome.
To hear my son talk about it, he really was just trying to run the race a 2nd time (this kid has energy, let me tell you!). But you could see it on his face. He was so happy to be there, to help and encourage. Getting to see our oldest son jump in without a word or question, to use his gift to help others-- it was one of my Miraculous Moments, for sure.
This is what a doula does. I will train with you for your birth, I'll offer suggestions and help, but when your own big day comes, You will be running the race. You will bring the strength, the determination, and you will be the one who brings your beautiful baby into the world. In the "race" that is your birth, I am merely the pacer.
I'm not interested in running your race for you, but if you need me, I will be there, running slightly behind you, offering words of encouragement and offering you strength when you think you have none left, so that no matter how you cross your finish line, you will know you are strong. You will know you are not alone. And you will know that you are heard and important and not lost in the crowd, and that you are amazing. I'll cheer for you and push with you, and then I'll thank you for allowing me the privilege of watching your beauty, your strength, and your determination, because it is my honor.