May in New Zealand is a month of shorter days and candle-lit nights, a month of celebrating mothers on Mother’s Day and cross-country running.
It’s a month when the colours of a summer well spent are trying desperately to cling on – but fading with every short day of light and howling storm.
I love the light and find the darker months of the year a personal challenge to keep sane. To feel mentally well I have to make myself get out the door, in the daylight, every day, no matter the weather, and exercise. This year is a lot easier to do that – as our family now has a pet dog (and when he gives me his puppy eye look, pleading to go on a walk, even when the rain is falling from the sky like someone has turned on a giant shower in heaven to full power, I find my head nodding in submission).
There isn’t one photograph to sum up all of this, but the closest I can come to it, is the one below – of my daughter Sophie running with all her heart, in her cross-country race this week. It was one of the most memorable days of this month so far.
The night before she ran the heavens opened and let down a torrential downpour (typical of this time of year). We woke to a calmer morning, but her nerves were still heightened with anticipation. Thankfully, by the time she got to school – and her teacher had reassured her (as well as at least half the rest of the class) with some words of enthusiastic words of motivation – she was pumped.
My husband and I met at the beautiful Karori Park to cheer her on. We had told her, multiple times, to just enjoy the run and give it her own personal best. She had found the weeks building up to the race hard work – having to get to school every morning, change into her PE gear, and run laps around a park adjacent to her school. There were many mornings she woke up hoping for rain (meaning fitness would be circuits in the gym instead – which she preferred).
Anyway, on race day, she didn’t have to run first thing, she had a chance to let her body wake up, digest some morning tea, and run in the late morning. The change of scenery and knowing she’d be running on a looped course, with no repetitions of laps on the same ground, gave her an added boost of excitement. When the start gun was fired she set off fast, as did her seventeen class mates.
She gave it her all, through the stream, up the grass hilly verge, through the forest, down the steps and on to the final stretch.
We were surprised to see her running in so fast and she was clearly giving it her all, as she made it around the final bend, passed a class-mate (with an apologetic glance) and crossed the finish line in 7th place!
It was one of those great parenting moments – to see one of our children overcome anxiety and push through to achieve a strong result. She was so thrilled with her result and proud of herself – rightly so!
A wonderfully happy moment in the week building up Mother’s Day in New Zealand – this Sunday, 10th May – which I’d already enjoyed an early celebration of at a wonderful ‘Mother’s to School Day’, where I spent a gorgeous morning in the classroom with my two junior school daughters, a delicious morning tea and wonderful entertainment – as the girls sang in their respective choirs.
May, it’s a pretty good month, despite the dark evenings, and my thoughts are frequently of my dear folks and family in the UK, enjoying the light evenings of spring after a long, dark winter.
And when I am blessed with a good day in May, like the one I’ve written about, when my daughter triumphed over her nerves & ran with all her heart, I top it off with a good run of my own! This was how I spent the afternoon, before school pick-up, running on Wellington’s beautiful south coast, delighting in the autumn sunshine and spotting a beautiful New Zealand Kingfisher at the end of my run.
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