Susie Orcutt is a Peachtree City-based triathlete and bonus mom to three boys. She begins her interview by sharing the things she's learned about choices from becoming a bonus mom and racing triathlon.
If there is one thing that I have learned through being a bonus mom …its that we all have a choice.
We can CHOOSE to love..choose to respect. choose to forgive
life is about a series of choices…and we get to decide what we believe and how we respond to situations.
The boys and I choose to call each other "bonus" instead of "step"
Bonus represents…an addition to… an added bonus…more love…more family..more grandparents..more cousins…there is no such thing as TOO MUCH LOVE… (versus step which gives a feeling of "other than" or alternate ). We are NOT alternates. We are an addition to one another lives. We made a decision to LOVE first and LOVE big and RESPECT always. I respect their biological mother and I don't try to take the place of….I am an addition to the family.
I liken this to when we choose to become a triathlete. We have to decide what we are going to believe about ourselves and our ability to complete all 3 disciples of this race.
Do we believe we can accomplish our goals or do we believe we can't?
Do we believe that we aren't good enough..or do we believe we can and will?
It's about choice…belief systems. Our minds play a much bigger role in our ability to compete than we may believe…just as in life…our minds play a much bigger role in our happiness than we may want to believe. Life is full of challenges and we can either decide to be a victim of the circumstances or a victor. We can decide if we want to react to situations or respond.
We can control our thoughts….
How did you get into triathlon
My background is in running however when I sustained an injury and my running was affected. I had a period of time where I couldn't run at all and was told to "get in the pool" or "ride a bike". I had never been a swimmer, sure I could swim and not drown..but swim for exercise…never. So I had to "teach myself to swim". I had cycled some in my younger years with my family and thought I could give it a try again.
Once I was able to return to running, I was instructed to do more cross training and to "watch my miles". My husband (then friend) and I met a group of people at a gym who did "triathlons" and my husband thought…let's give it a try…it will be good for us to try something different. It gave me a new goal, something different from my running.
How do you balance it with a family?
My husband and I both race so this has been a challenge. We enjoy training and racing together however with all 3 boys involved in activities we have had to learn to adjust our schedules to accommodate. We have a joint calendar that lists all the activities for the week and we have a "training" calendar of what our workouts will be for each day. Usually on the weekend we sit down together and look over our calendars…work, kids, training…then we set up a plan of how to "get it done".
In this season of our life we usually train separately during the weekdays and then try to manage our weekend workouts together depending on the boys and their activities. It is a challenge but it is all about scheduling and planning but also being flexible and forgiving. Sometimes a child gets sick or hurt or a coach changes a practice or game. We have to learn to roll with it and do the best we can with each day. If I miss a workout due to one of the boys, I take a deep breathe and tell myself that missing one workout won't kill me. I won't lose all of my fitness in one day and I'll just get back at it tomorrow. Beating myself up about it leaves me feeling "not good enough" and that doesn't do anyone any good. I choose to let it go…and give myself a break…knowing I'm doing my best with the day I have in front of me.
Going from zero kids to 3 at once was a HUGE learning experience. I had to instantly learn how to juggle not just me…but me, and a husband, and 3 children. I had to give myself SPACE and GRACE to learn and grow through this journey. Every season of the boy's lives presents different challenges.
At first they weren't old enough to be left alone for me to go for a run…now they are …but I have become a "taxi" service to all of their activities. Soon they will grow up and be gone and I'll miss being asked to take them to practice or a movie with friends. It has taught me to try to live in the moment and be present…enjoy where we are.
Just like triathlon, life is a journey. For us, it's all about the journey of wellness and fitness and competition. I hope to do triathlons into my 80s LOL. and I know I'll approach them differently then than I do now.
How do you think triathlon helps you be a better mom?
Taking time for myself doing something for my mental and physical health makes me a better wife and mother and overall human being. Sometimes I use my run as a time to clear my head…talk to God..connect with nature…reboot and re-energize so I can come back home with my emotional tank full and ready to give to my family. Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is full of tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, errands, practices, games…etc. On the other hand, it is also full of joy, laughter, love, and so much more. If we become all about the tasks and the children and lose ourselves in them we become drained and even can build some resentment..taking a moment to be "me" allows me to give even more to the boys and my family.
It also helps me lead by example. When the boys see me training and racing..it teaches them about being disciplined and going after something they want. It teaches them that you are never too old to set goals and dream big and go for it! They see the dedication. It shows them that they can do it too. In every step of their life they can choose what they want to achieve..who they want to be…DEFINE themselves…and GO GET IT.
It also teaches them how to handle disappointment. Sometimes a race day doesn't turn out like planned…so how I handle defeat and disappointments helps them learn how to handle it in their own lives. I've learned that they are always watching us and our actions speak way louder than our words.