I love my child ferociously- and indeed, one of the fundamental reasons why I challenged myself to not procrastinate further and swim the English channel was to allow my son to see that dreams can be realised, that one can attain fulfilment without selling those closest to you down the river.
He is instrumental in giving me a reason to push myself, to better myself and to search for all that I am. There are, however, some major stumbling blocks that arise as a single mum- some of which I believe end up being a boon to my marathon swimming…eventually and with hindsight!
I firmly believe that being a self employed single mum has allowed me to be better conditioned mentally for the privations of marathon swimming- I am regularly required to put in a good performance on woefully little sleep…night after night often. In fact, Dyl seems to have such a sense of timing that if I have a 6hr training swim booked, guaranteed, he’ll have nightmares and keep me awake most of the night before. This has ended up being in my favour- swims starting at 3am? No worries. I go on automatic pilot when woken and can function as ‘normal’ for whatever is required.
However, training does suffer- lack of sleep can’t be infinite.
Timing is a concern: I managed to train for the English channel whilst Dyl was in pre-school or asleep on all but 6 days. This was a logistical nightmare, but I did it. I ended up using him as a piece of apparatus- the PT used to come to my house and have Dyl sit on my shoulders while I did reps of drop downs off the edge of the patio, or have him sit on my back while I held the plank position… It made it fun…..tortuous but fun.
Working out when I can work out is mind boggling. I take being a mother seriously and wouldn’t trade it for the world- but man, would I love to be able to afford a live in nanny sometimes! Then I could pop off the minute he’s in bed and hit the pool! Or get up early and swim before work.
Worse is trying to get in the sea- the season so far has been cruel: on calm and sunny days, we’ve been booked for family fun, only for the weather to break evilly when I have time to head to the coast. At such times, I develop a distinct split in my psyche. The mother in me relishes the precious time I have with my son and I truly cherish it- whilst the swimmer in me is hurling herself at the bars of her cage! This year is a year of that split!
I’ve started to devise ways of training wit Dyl- one is have him in a dinghy that I pull- he’s good for up to an hour if supplied with snacks and is a handy exercise in drag! Luckily he’s water savvy and loves the sea so he comes out with me in a wetsuit if I tow a boogie board. He’s proud of my swims and I’m devoted to allowing his passion as they arise to be followed- at the mo that’s climbing. High ropes here we come!