May 2021

This Month’s Mom Doesn’t Run From a Challenge

Meet Mary Wright of Arete Women’s Running Club

by suki wessling

Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children.

“Since August, we have worked really hard to prioritize our kids’ socio-emotional health,” explains Mary Wright. Why August? That’s when she, husband Andy, and their three kids Lucia, Oliver, and Annabel welcomed a fourth, baby Thomas.
Mary is Co-Founder and Director of Arete Women’s Running Club, which started in Santa Cruz six years ago and now boasts nine chapters around the country. Before she welcomed another child into their family, she was busy enough.

“Before the pandemic, I worked during school hours and traveled more,” she explains. “Now I work whenever I have my windows between distance learning.”
Andy is a teacher and worked through most of the last year from home as well. Mary explains their method for organizing the kids’ learning and her emotionally healthy outlook.

“Each night before bed, Andy and I write out the following day’s schedule on a whiteboard,” Mary says. “It’s like a big puzzle. We each work for 1-1.5 hour slots while swapping the kids back and forth. I don’t think I’m doing a great job in anything, but I hope I’m doing a ‘good enough’ job in all things.”

Local mom Rebecca Paten, who nominated Mary, was impressed by her dedication. “[Mary and co-founder Melissa Leigh] both adapted to the Covid situation and have provided a lot of online support and encouragement for people to stay fit and healthy during the pandemic,” she says.

Mary’s day starts early when she rises in the dark to get some exercise before the baby wakes. Then she moves to the “constant baton toss from the kitchen to the office to the kids’ distance learning bedrooms.” Work—responding to emails, developing training plans, tinkering with the app, shipping merchandise, organizing events—comes in between parenting duties.

Mary says that she has realized more than ever that what she does for her work and for her family is community-building. “This is the year it became glaringly obvious how much we all need each other in order to thrive!”

For her family and her business, the pandemic has helped remind her to focus on prioritizing community. That means learning pods and Covid-safe social activities for her family and making sure that her business continues to promote connectedness. She’s also learned some lessons.

“You can’t save your kids or shelter them from everything,” Mary explains. “At the beginning, I was trying to make their worlds perfect and sugarcoat the trauma, but after a few weeks, I realized I couldn’t keep that up. The reality is we have four kids, two working parents, and a lot of moments are just going to plain old suck for everyone.

“So in the moment, I’ve been reminding my kids that this is hard, it’s okay to feel frustrated, and all we can do is bring our best attitude to each day and keep showing up.”

And show up she does! Learn more about Mary’s business at

Suki Wessling is a local writer and the mom of two young adults. Read more at

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