Cross country was one of my favorite sports (next to soccer) growing up. I ran for three years in middle school and even placed ninth in my respective county, in seventh grade. While I was proud of all of my accomplishments, the lessons I learned from this sport, as well as the friendships I formed from running with other individuals, were invaluable. To this day, they stick with me and have helped shape who I am, which is why the fact that being into cross country has helped make me a better mom is, of course, no surprise. I can't deny that I'm a better person thanks to the lessons I learned. Lessons that, thankfully, I can one day pass down to my daughter.

In cross country, I was never the top runner, especially at the first meet of the season and no matter how well I had been doing in practice. However, I was never the last runner, either. More often than not, I was somewhere in the middle. One day, to my surprise and when I decided I wanted to be at the top, I made the choice to work harder and find my groove and make my practice actually pay off in a way I could be personally proud of. In the pursuit of my goal, I learned so many lessons that, to my surprise, have aided me in being the best mother I can be to my little girl. It's funny how motherhood works; it's usually the little things that carry you through and arm you with the tools to tackle the big things.

When you want something badly enough, you are willing to go after it no matter what it takes. The path may not always be the easiest, to be sure, but you will learn many lessons along the way that will not only help you achieve your dream, but will also stick with you and shape you if you let them. Cross country gave me that perspective, and I'm so thankful that it's aided me in being a mom, in the following ways:

You Know The Importance Of Perseverance


To reach a certain personal time goal in cross country, you will need to learn perseverance. It will not always be easy and make no mistake, you will want to give up more times than you're willing to admit. Sound familiar? I can't tell you how many times I've though, "I just can't mom anymore," only to remind myself that failure is not an option. I can't give up, because my goal is bigger than myself.

You Know How To Encourage Others


Cross country may appear, to most, as an individual's sport, but I disagree. While there are some people who may run better alone, I was definitely not one of those people. In fact, there were many times that I ran with a partner and she would encourage me to continue running when I just want to give up. If I'm being honest, I would not have made it to the finish line as quickly as I did if my running partner had not encouraged me to continue. This is where you learn how to encourage your kids, and other mothers, no matter how impossible something may seem.

You Have Incredible Patience


Cross country is no short event, regardless of how long or short the trail. It's often located in the woods, or somewhere else away and without a large number of bystanders. So, for many runners, cross country can bet a little monotonous. I mean really, the scenery is all the same: trees over here, trees over there, a root way over there, and oh look! A bumblebee! Yep, That's about it. You have to learn patience while running, or you'll tire yourself out more quickly trying to reach the finish line sooner. Sounds exactly like the patience I'm having to learn when it comes to my toddler.

You Know The Importance Of Remaining Positive


During this monotonous run, you must remain positive. Especially as a runner in the south, the early meets in the heat and humidity would make me want to die. Positivity is the only thing that gets you through that kind of hell, I promise. That same positivity is something I use on a daily basis in order to help both my daughter, and myself. My mental health is just as important to me now than it was when I was running through humid climates and fighting off mosquitoes. I take care of me, so I can get to the finish line. I take care of me, so I can take care of my daughter.

You Know The Importance Of Eating Healthy


In order to have a good run, it is important to have a healthy diet. If you don't, you are more likely to experience cramps and, trust me, you don't want those. Likewise, creating a healthy relationship between my daughter and food is vital to me, so I want to her to eat healthy while remaining body positive and body confident.

You Know The Importance Of Sleep


If you don't get enough good sleep before a cross country meet, you will be regretting it the next day, I guarantee it. You will feel like you are moving in slow motion and you might even begin to fall asleep while running (yes, I've seen it almost happen before). See where I'm going here? I'm running a marathon, every day, when I take care of my daughter. My sleep is valuable, and while it isn't always possible, I do what I need to in order to get the sleep I need, and facilitate the sleep my daughter needs.

You Know The Importance Of Remaining Active


Remaining active doesn't mean you have to be exercising. It simply means you are up and moving in some way, or another, that you deem "fun" and that can help keep you healthy. I was one of those kids who always thought running was fun, but I know some people disagree, and that's OK. Just the ability to keep you and your kids active and having fun and appreciating the wonderful things their bodies can do, is important to the health of you and your children.

You Have An Appreciation Of Nature


Cross country isn't like track and field. At least, not to me. It's better (and I do love track and field, don't get me wrong) because in cross country, you tend to run around in nature, instead of on a pavement-covered circle. What could be more calming and peaceful than to be running through nature? You get to experience God's beautiful creation in an entirely different way and, as a mom who now appreciates nature in an entirely different way, you can share that appreciation with your children. What a way to bond!