Two years after my son was born I had finally clawed my way back to being as close to ‘normal’ as I ever get. I had emerged from under an enormous cloud of depression, lost my baby weight and was working out regularly. In a nutshell, I wasn’t crying when the macaroni boiled over and my jeans fit. Life was good. I had a healthy handsome toddler and an amazing 8 year old. Who could want more? My husband!!! It is usually me that comes up with harebrained ideas and he is the voice of reason. I agreed to start trying for a baby in a year or so (stall tactic). Three weeks later I was pregnant.
Sophi was born on a cold rainy January afternoon. Being the only of my three kids born under the grace of an epidural her arrival seemed nearly tranquil. In fact, the labor nurse had given strict instructions for me to alert her if I felt the urge to ‘push’. She was quite perturbed when she learned that I felt like I might need to go to the bathroom and she discovered I was completely dilated. She scolded, “This is your third baby, I told you to tell me if you felt the urge to push.” I quickly retorted, “This is my first epidural. The last time I felt the urge to push it felt like someone was driving a train through my ass—-. I currently feel like there is a slight chance I might have to poop. Can you see where there might be some confusion?” A short time later, my bonus baby, Sophi, arrived.
Sophi entered the world wide-eyed, blinking and taking in everything around her. Three weeks early, she weighed in at 8 pounds and 8 ½ ounces and was just over 21 inches long. She seemed perfect in just about every way, except for her foot. It was apparent that she had been lying in utero with her foot folded against her leg, which made it look permanently contorted. I tried in vain to reassure my husband that her soft rubbery newborn bones would find their way back to their original design. He, however, was convinced that she would wobble when she walked and perhaps would never run. As she grew from baby to toddler, it became obvious just how wrong he was. This girl was born to run.
My first experience with Sophi giving me the slip happened on her first and only trip to the Dixie Stampede in Branson, MO. Only 18 months old, Sophi was delighted with all the sights and sounds of the colossal plantation-style venue, but she was enthralled with the doves. The doves were caged at the far end of the horse stables and like their equine neighbors, were part of the dinner show. Unlike the horses, the doves played a very minute part in the grand production, but for Sophi they were the main attraction. She resisted leaving the dove cage to make our way to the main entrance to get our tickets and be seated for the show. As we waited in the lobby area, she saw her opportunity and seized it. She let go of my hand and darted out the door as a small group of people were entering. I yelled for her to stop and tried to push my way through the blue-haired gaggle that had enabled her escape. She loped surefootedly the entire length of the stable row, bobbing and weaving through the jungle of legs. Clumsily, I trailed her; thwarted by the people and my panic, yelling out as I gave chase, “Someone grab that baby! She’s mine”. Evidently, I thought clarifying my maternal status would make my crazy request seem plausible. The onlookers continued to look on and Sophi continued to run. When I finally caught up to her, she was hanging on the chicken wire smiling at the stupid doves like she had found the Holy Grail.
The following summer, at the ripe ole age of 2 ½, Sophi made another run for it and this time she ran barefoot on a busy street. I was making cookies and had sent her older sister and her friend next door to borrow an egg. They were already out the door and Sophi asked to go along and I said she could. Instead of following, Sophi had other plans. Just as I was about to pop the first batch of cookies into the oven the phone rang. Here is the conversation:
Caller: Is this Karri?
Me: Yes it is.
Caller: This is Theresa, the nurse at the elementary school. Um…we have Sophi here
Me: WHAT??!! You have Sophi where? What?!?
Caller: I am working summer school at the intermediate building. A man saw her running up the street. He followed her on his motorcycle. He made sure she made it inside the school.
Me: OH MY GOD! I will be right there!!!
Earlier in the day, Sophi had not been allowed to walk the two and half blocks up the busy street to the schoolyard to play with the older girls. Unbeknownst to me, she had decided to make the trip solo!! I arrived at the school to find her perched on the counter in the office, obviously proud that she had reached her destination. Fortunately, she was safe and sound and my relief was soon replaced with utter embarrassment at my parenting faux pas! My toddler had run over two blocks barefoot and made new friends, before I even realized she was gone. It was apparent that I was no longer eligible for the Mother of the Year award.
Fiercely independent, boldly brave, and with an affinity for motion, Sophi continues to be a girl on the go. Although her early running adventures kept me hopping, she has found positive ways to channel her endorphin-driven tendencies. She competed in her first (mini) tri-Athlon when she was 9 years old, emerging as course champion in a field of 125. She currently holds the all-time school record for the 1 mile run and a handful of school cross country records as well. I am very proud of my little runaway and I am thankful that I don’t have to chase her anymore, because everyone knows that I never have been able to catch her!
Note to Sophi: It doesn’t matter how you finish, just that you finish. My wish for you is that you will always have the desire to chase down your dreams and never quit running until you have made them your own.