Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mother's Guilt

is never too far away.

An acquaintance of mine recently said: "There's no such thing as bad weather . . . only bad clothing".  And I've sort of come to agree.  I still despise the cold (after all, I'm an African and do far, far better in the heat) but I see that if one dresses properly, one can be comfortable in some pretty extreme weather.  

I made the decision to continue running through the winter and invested a grip on appropriate winter running gear.  When I go for a run in 20 degree weather, this is what I'm wearing:

  • wool socks 
  • Underarmour base layer bottom
  • fleece pants over that
  • windbreaker pants
  • Underarmour base layer top
  • fleece vest
  • fleece windbreaking jacket
  • windbreaker
  • gaiter
  • fleece hat underneath a wool hat
  • silk liner gloves
  • windbreaker running gloves
  • fleece-lined wool mitts
And wouldn't you know it?  It works.  I'm comfortable throughout my run (although I do need to get something to protect my face--Vaseline can only do so much).  I've cut my runs down a bit.  Short runs are now 20 minutes and long runs only 40-45 minutes.  So I can be outside without asking myself what the hell I'm doing out there for about 45 minutes.  It's amazing.  I've always been the kind to hunker down once the thermometer drops--a real whimp about the cold and here I am.  

Anyway, it got me to thinking that if I can be outside for 45 minutes in freezing temperatures, so could my kids.  And heaven knows they need to get out.  All this pent up energy . . . they are just bouncing off the walls trapped inside the house because of the cold.  But they don't have appropriate winter gear--nothing made for being outside for longer than 10-15 minutes maximum.  And they should.

Uh-oh.  Whenever should comes into the conversation, guilt is soon to follow.

I started to feel terrible because I've plunked down all this money on clothes to make running in the cold possible but I really haven't invested any time or money into serious cold weather clothes for them.  Oh, they have all kinds of "warm" mittens and hats, jackets and sweaters made from polyester fleece.  It's warm.  It's good.  But it's not the best for the cold.  It's not as good as wool and other natural fibers.  That's what they should be wearing!

I've been planning to knit wool hats and gloves for my kids for a long time.  I have the patterns lined up and all.  I just haven't gotten around to it.  I checked the prices for wool long johns and socks online and it's not cheap.  I felt bad because I've spent so much on stuff for myself without buying warmer, higher quality stuff for them.  

Until I realized that I wouldn't even be considering taking my kids out to play in this kind of weather had I not challenged myself to continue running through winter.  I would never have thought it would be possible to have fun outside in the cold (even if we can't be out there for hours).  The whole re-structuring of my attitude towards the cold is a direct result of running.   Why should I feel guilty about buying the things that allow me to do this one thing that does so much for me?  So I dropped the guilt thing.

In a few weeks, I'll look into wool long johns and socks for them.  I'll slowly purchase yarn to make wool hats and mittens.  Meanwhile, they have wool sweaters I bought at the thrift store over the years, random wool hats that I've made over the years that they can wear under their fleece hats, and cotton waffle knit long johns that while not the greatest are okay.  So maybe we won't be able to be out for very long right now but at least it's a possibility in my mind.    

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