And with a single leap, Amelia enters another year.

Seven years ago today, a journey started at at 5:13 a.m.. Motherhood. Intensely scared, intensely happy, intensely hormonal, intensely difficult. Intense.

That day, my body worked harder than it ever had before. The scariest part? I wasn’t in control. The pain came and came and I couldn’t make it stop. “If I just had five minutes to gather myself,” I told my husband, “I’d be good.”

No walk breaks in labor, unfortunately. No walk breaks in parenthood either.

But plenty of time to reflect in parenthood, even if I have to lock myself in my bathroom to escape from my screaming kids. (Guilty as charged. More than once. Most recently: during an interview with a (single, male) newspaper reporter about Run Like A Mother. When it was clear the door wasn’t drowning out their shrieks, I asked him, “Now do you understand why I run?”)

A few things I’ve noted as along the way:

—I’m much less patient than I pretend to be; I’m much more of a control freak than I wish I was; my tolerance for loud noises, especially before 7 a.m and even if I’ve already run to get my crazies out, is meager; and I despise any toy that A) requires assembly with a included tool; B) has the words “littlest” and “pet shop” somewhere on the box; or C) has any pieces smaller than my thumbnail.

–My ability to love is much deeper and resilient than I ever could have imagined.

–That said, there are times when I don’t actually like my own offspring. Hard to stomach, but true.

–Sense of smell is intensely maternal. My kids’ diapers, puke and farts barely register in my nostrils. But if I walk into a restroom and somebody has just deposited a dirty diaper? Retch. Also, some of my favorite moments are when they sit on my lap and I can take clandestine hits of the sweet smells coming off their necks.

–I would like to never utter these sentences again:
I don’t respond to whining.
How do you ask?
Please wipe.
If you were really hungry, you would eat an apple.
You don’t need more ketchup.

–My body is no longer my own. I’ve nourished with it, I’ve starved it of sleep, I’ve had it crawled over and sat on, I’ve had babies stuck in it and to it, I’ve hauled kids around on it, I’ve had it kicked and bit in frustration. And it’s happy to take the hits for the family team. Except for when I run. Then it belongs only to me.

–A run can’t make everything in my cart-pushing, often frustrating world right, but it’s the best panacea I know. A hug–or just the sight of my kids–at the end of a bad race can make everything right.

–I’m trying to slow down and appreciate more moments. The other day, as the kids were Nascaring their carts around the grocery store (hey: you gotta do what you can to keep it interesting), I apologized to a woman whom they whizzed by on their way to get a chocolate milk box (hey: you gotta to keep the help happy). “I’m sorry,” I said, “They’re crazy.” “No,” she said, “They’re awesome. Awesome.” She said it in such a genuine, warm way, I had to believe her. “You’re right,” I said, “They are awesome.”

–Over the past seven years, I feel like spent approximately 75% of my time either pushing a grocery cart or moving clothes from the washer to the dryer. I’ve often mentally composed a Facebook update around it: “Dimity spends way too much time in the laundry room and grocery store. Just sayin’.” But putting it out there in the universe–just like putting out a more worthy goal, like to run a 10k–makes it more real. So let’s just pretend I haven’t just copped to the fact that I have, for about 84 months, filled my cart with strawberry cream cheese and drenched paint-stained clothes in Shout on a nearly daily basis.

–A friend quoted me the amazing Anne Lamott the other day: “Having a child is like pouring Miracle-Gro on your character defects.” Without going into too much detail–or maybe I already did?–I’ll just say a big Amen to that.

Happy 7th birthday, my sometimes puzzling, always lovey Amelia. Thanks for taking me along for the ride.

(And thanks, RLAM’ers, for reading to the end of this self-indulgent post. Next week: I’m back on form/function/NYC’ing. Promise.)