Spring. The universal time when the layers come together. Building one upon the other. Where the rooted tree stretches up, reaching for the sky. It stands firm. It is rooted deep into the depths of the earth. Strong but bending to accommodate change. It takes in the light of the mid day’s sky and the buds begin to open…up, and we too awaken.
I blinked and then waited two minutes. I blinked again as the two bars appeared in the window. I blinked again and there they were, still looking at me. My gaze was fixated. My limbs were numb. My emotions were high. It was real. You were real. My whole world was changing. You were the blessing that would make it happen.
During the nine months you tossed and cuddled inside me, so much of my young life was evolving. I rarely had time to slow down and embrace what it meant to be “with child.” But we ran, boy, we ran. We hustled and started a business. We worked long hours and would be swollen from exhaustion. We pushed through every tingle and overcame every pain. It was all happening so fast. Nine months go by too quick. But on the day you were born you reminded me to slow down. To appreciate our last day together as mother carrying her unborn child. You planned it this way. I know this now, son.
It was just you and I that day babe. We worked a little, played a little, visited with friends and family. We baked a little and snuggled on the couch to grab one last movie. The last movie that would be watched in its entirety without any interruptions. As I snuggled into the soft silky sheets for bed and the spring breeze blew through the room, you gave me a little tug. Then another and I knew, it was almost time for us to finally meet. You gave me the day, our last moments to prepare for both of our about to change forever lives.
You put me through every test. At times you stole my breath away. At times I thought gravity would pull me under. But then at the magical hour of 10:00 a.m., I heard the most precious three words I would ever hear in my life. Some say there are no more precious of words than “I love you”. I disagree. Even though I was tired, emotional, scared and joyful, when I heard “It’s a Boy”, those my son were the three most precious words that fell upon my ears.
You were beautiful. You grew so fast. From cat naps in my arms, to stroller rides to sliding down the slide all by yourself. Then it seemed like overnight you left my side to go to pre-school. The day you got on the bus to ride off to Kindergarten just melted my heart. Your first crack of the bat was like a melody I hear over and over again. Your first touchdown took my breath away yet another time. But you ran, boy you ran.
Your first ride without training wheels would prepare me to encourage you to go forth independently. Your climbs so high upon the trees allowed me to see how much determination you had. Your jumping in puddles, rolling in the mud and food stained shoulders and sleeves have shown me how not to sweat the small stuff. Your hand print stains upon the walls and trails and trails of parmesan balls taught me that messiness is what makes a house a home.
Now you are growing up. You are leaving behind the single digits. The past ten years have taught me more about life, empathy and love than any other years of my existence. There are days I reflect on my own life the past decade. How I have changed and grown and opportunities I might have missed. But if I had a chance for a do over, a chance to repeat, I would do it exactly the same.
I would still hold you until you stopped crying. I would still let you crawl into my bed. I would still sleep on the floor next to your bed, when you felt ill. I would push you 100 times more on the swings and chase after you when you made off for the street. I would still roll around in the grass with you and push bulldozers in the mud. I would still be your elementary class room mom again and again. I would finger-paint until our hands were stained and count your little piggies. I would still rock you to sleep even when my arms went numb and my eyes grew heavy. I want to ‘Rock a Bye’ my baby again.
But we grow. We move forward. I am not sad that those days are over, I’m glad that they happened. Now as you set forth in the land of double digits, I know the next decade will fly by too. I know I will look back again ten years from now and relish the bittersweet moments again. But today I reflect. I reflect on a decade gone by. I reflect on the fact that when I heard “It’s a Boy” that no matter how Type A or organized you strive to be, every day is a new beginning, its very own unplanned adventure. You gave me that gift, son. For that, I am ever grateful and one lucky girl.
Soon you and I will gather at the starting line. When we hear the whistle sound, we will make off towards our goal. The finish line will be ahead of us and we leave behind the single digits. When we cross the finish line, we won’t stop suddenly and call it an ending. We will cross through and carry on. I look forward to our first 5k together. Rocking it out with you, my baby, and we will run, boy, we will run!
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” -Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile
For a runner, running is freedom. Running is facing your fears, your “I cannots” and going the extra mile. When your feet hit the pavement, it creates a symphony. A collection of notes you create. You set the tempo, the softness and the beat as you go along with Mother Nature’s rhythm.
Some days we conquer and others days we take it slow, erring on the side of caution. Then there are those days we have no fear. We plow through. Sometimes we arrive sooner and other times later. But we arrive. We are present.
We gain acceptance of the challenges, conquer our fears of the unknown and relish in the beauty and adventure. When we finish, we are humbled. We are strong. We overcame. We defeated our negative thoughts. We made it happen.
Whether we are crossing a finishing line, laying down to rest or slowing down to avoid injury, we conquered. We let running reign and so to will freedom.
Who gets denied the opportunity to contribute to charity? Whose donations do not qualify as a viable food source for a hunger center? Who gets the ixnay on the spaghett-tay? Well, we do of course.
Over Spring Break I took the kids to the Library. Given our Spring Break week looked more like Winter Break, we had to forego a trip to the zoo and spend our time indoors. I figured a nice quiet place surrounded by books would do the three little guys and myself some good.
It was also that one time of the year where I can drastically reduce my library fines. You see, I am very good with money. I pay all my bills on time. I can set up and hold to a budget. I even manage my business’ finances. It’s all good. Yet, when it comes to returning library books and movies on time, well there is a bit of a problem.
I now have to lock up the kids library books in my closet. This way in order to grab the next book they have to return their current book to me. It is one way I can monitor the books and avoid calls from The Library Association of Unretunred Library Items. I have bought more books and movies that seriously we could open up our own institution to borrow and lend books, DVD’s and CD’s. In fact, I just found Thomas’ Snowy Day Surprise hidden in a moving box from 2005.
Do you think they will accept its return this late in the game?
Anyways, when I have a chance to reduce my fines, I’m all for it. I have picked up trash, donated used books to schools, volunteered my time during children’s story hour and most recently had an opportunity to donate canned goods. So on our latest trip over break, while the little monkeys were climbing the book shelves, I was negotiating a fine reduction. $1.00 off fines for every canned good item. I was so happy to donate to the hunger center that I was willing to empty out my whole pantry. I even told the Librarian to keep the extras.
I wanted to show the kids it is not just about doing something to get something in return. That giving more is always the better option. Until the Librarian started to indicate to her assistant that the many items I turned in need to go into the unacceptable bin. I’m sorry, come again? Black beans do not qualify. What could the volunteers possibly do with black beans? Garbanzo beans do not qualify. Artichokes are not a real vegetable item. Low sodium soup is not acceptable. I guess there is a need for iodine. Probably for an electrolyte boost or something. Oh and Spaghetti O’s, what was I thinking? No really, she said, “You really shouldn’t feed your children this as nothing in this can is real.”
Now if any of you know me personally or have been following my blog, I do not feed my children Spaghetti O’s or their equivalents. Not that I am knocking on Chef Boyardee or Campbell’s, but I believe in raw, whole foods without added dyes, processed ingredients or genetically modified substances. I know it is not everybody’s thing but it’s how I choose to raise my little guys. It is how I choose to nourish them and my own body.
So naturally I explained to the Librarian and her assistant, that someone brought these over to my house and I agree I would never give the kids such a delicacy as Spaghetti’s O’s. They just peered at me through their Librarian lenses and in disbelief, said “Mmm hmm.” So along with a lecture on healthy and nutritious foods I should feed my children, my Spaghetti O’s were denied as well as the beans o’ plentiful and my library fines remained the same.
So, finding Thomas’ Snowy Day Surprise just tickled my fancy. I cannot wait to return this item. Yet, I will probably receive another fine as it is now probably a discontinued item on the Librarian’s List.
Who else owes their retirement in library fines? Have you ever been denied an item for donation? Since when did hunger centers get so picky?
I mean hunger is hunger. Legumes are high in protein and filling via their carbohydrate content. Now Spaghetti O’s on the other hand, well shame on me for trying to donate those, but I figured it was better than putting them in the trash. Well, my good lesson to the children on giving more than necessary all sort of backfired. They were ashamed of me for trying to give away “bad food” to the homeless. The Librarian was able to pull off her signature move by lowering her glasses and gazing at me with sternness as if I just shouted in her institution. It was a total belly flop and complete waste of a Spring Break morning.
So, where are you at in library fines?
Yesterday morning was off to a rough start. I woke up late. It was cold and the thought of bouncing from bed to shower just made me want to pull the covers over my head. I needed a gradual good morning. One that allowed sipping some hot coffee, curled up under the blanket by the fire.
I had the choice to act now and get a head start before the kids woke up. This would lead to my being present at the breakfast table with them. This would allow me to control the “I wants”, sibling bickering and a nicely prepared breakfast ending up in the trash. The nutritious breakfast taking second place to M&M yogurt and Easter candy. I had a choice.
The other option would be the gradual good morning. I chose this option. Despite past experiences, I decided to roll with it but was convinced I could stay mindful. I could start the turkey bacon and sip the coffee. I could wake the kids up, have breakfast on their plates and then jump into the shower. I could let them carry on with their bickering with an occassional diversion from getting ready to mediate. I could do this. I did.
It was frustrating. There were many interruptions. I forget my eyeliner on one eye. I forget to plug in the curling iron. The nutritious breakfast took a hike for sugar laden yogurt and Easter candy. I had a choice. I refused to get upset. I refused to be frustrated. I calmly put the yogurt back into the refrigerator. I put my other eye’s liner on. I plugged in the curling iron. I mediated. I took deep breaths. I referred them to brush their teeth and get their school bags.
I carried on. It was getting closer to crunch time. My oldest sounded the 8:01a.m. alarm. I knew the bus would be coming. I stopped. I had to make a choice to get them out the door. I wanted them off with smiles and hugs. I refused to not be mindful. I refused to let the chaos win. The chaos fought me hard. One went out the front door, one out into the garage, the other climbed into my car. Stop. We are not leaving yet. Come back in. They all did, eventually.
All he wanted was his snow boots. I tried to explain to him he wouldn’t need them today. He kept asking about the weather. Through the hair dryer I could hear him saying it is sunny now but a dark cloud is coming. He wondered if the cloud meant rain or snow. I had a choice to stop the hair dryer and crouch down to his level, meeting him face to face explaining he would not need the snow boots. I chose to put on his tennis shoes. I didn’t see he was frustrated. I didn’t let him explain. All he wanted to tell me was that if it was going to rain or snow and he didn’t have his boots he would have to stay on the asphalt during recess.
I had a choice to listen or be the parent in charge. I chose to be the parent in charge. I chose to not listen. He walked out the door with his head hanging low muttering a statement which really was asking for permission. He was going to grab his snow boots anyway. I saw his fingers grasp the boots. I removed them from his hands and put them back on the shelf. He grabbed them again. The bus was coming.
My oldest took off without a hug or a kiss. My baby was climbing into my car and then the bus stopped. I took the boots from his hand and threw them into his bag. I told him he was not listening. I chose to be upset. I kissed him off quickly and with his head down he walked down the 150 feet path of cement.
I was defeated. I let the chaos win. I did not send them off as I intended. I motioned for him to run. He never looked back. He never picked up his head. He stayed at the same defeated pace. Still yet I was upset. Upset that he didn’t listen. But really it was I who didn’t listen. I was too busy giving in to chaos. I made a choice to ease into the morning. A choice I knew would have repercussions. A choice I knew could lead to farewell defeats.
Then she grabbed a tissue as he boarded the bus. She wiped his eyes and hugged him. My heart sank. My eyes dripped with water. I wanted nothing more to run to them and get them off the bus. How could I let this happen. I was mindful of what she did. It bothered me. It stung. I felt like I failed. I made a choice.
Parenting isn’t always easy. Especially when you have multiple children and you are a working parent. It is a fine balancing act; getting yourself ready for work and children off to school. The intentions are good. The breakfast is nutritious. The lunches are packed. The schoolbags are ready. The teeth are brushed. Everything is in place. But what our little ones want most is to be heard. I know in this instance I was only acting on motherly intuition. I only wanted the absolute best for the children. But sometimes, we need to stop and just listen. Our children can provide an enormous amount of teaching. If we just choose to listen.
I’m not a fan of treadmills. First they scare me. Anything with a revolving conveyor belt that can accelerate at extremely fast speeds is just a recipe for disaster. I am way too competitive. Like this one time when I had a great pace going and the chic next to me starting inclining and raising her speed, well of course I had to keep up. I was so inclined it was like I was running up Mt. Everest.
It was all good until a giant boulder made its way towards me. Unbeknownst to me, my water bottle lost its position on the mega incline and went under foot. Needles to say little Ms. Competitive went flying into the elliptical machines. It was just all very bad. It went way too wrong.
That was then and now I prefer to let nature provide the incline. When I travel off the beaten path I find gems such as these. 105 to be exact. I will climb and incline. If I fall I only land in the river. No big deal, I will just turn around and swim.
It fares much better then getting catapulted into an elliptical machine while plastic surgery man drops beads of sweat on me. He was so botoxed up he didn’t even realize he had a women entangled around his machine. Don’t blink, you might miss a flying woman. This man gave eyes wide open a whole other meaning. Umm, help me sir!
Really. I am over that catastrophe. Really, I am. Anyways, the farther in I go the more picturesque the scenery gets. The sun is shining bright, Spring is chirping in the air and the last bits of snow are slowing melting away. It’s a natural obstacle that forces me to hop, jump and skip over the ice. It’s my own rendition of Happy Feet without the penguin waddle. Some might beg to differ but I had the whole playground to myself so no judgments forwarded.
I love this route. It does present a few obstacles such as the slippery slope and raging river below. But best not just peer what lies beneath as overhead can be majestically dangerous as well. With their stunning beauty they could also cause severe injury. Therefore, I veer closer to the slope than completely beneath these beautifully crafted ice sculptures.
Perhaps by this time of the year we are all a little sick of the cool temps and snow. But having the four seasons never allows my runs to get monotonous. Even if I travel the same path, everyday it looks different. Everyday I notice something different. The sounds are different. The smell is different. The people passing by are different.
The variety is the key that a treadmill in a basement or gym could not compete with. Each foot in front of the other creates its own symphony. So much so that I want to trade in the air buds. It is nice to have that iPod strapped tight to my arm while listening to my favorite running music. Yet, my footsteps and Mother Nature provide the most upbeat yet tranquil sounds that soothe my soul and rev my engine. Plus Mother Nature’s downloads are free.
The babbling creek is one of my favorites. It’s powerful but calming all in the same. I seem to run at a faster pace trying to keep up with it. I get lost in the sound and do not even realize I’ve accelerated. At one point on the path, I have to depart with it. Some days I just run through it. Like a farewell defeat. Other days, I carefully use the rocks that hinder its flow.
It reminds me of life. How some days we conquer and others days we take it slow, erring on the side of caution. Using the creek’s hinders to relate to our own. One step at a time trying to carefully plan our crossing. Then there are those days we choose to not care. We plow through. Sometimes we arrive sooner and other times later. We may have a cleaner crossing one day and a messy one the next. Yet, when we depart from the rhythm of the flow, we still end up in the same place and continue to move forward.
I venture off the beaten path to gain acceptance of the challenges, conquer my fears of the unknown and relish in the beauty and adventure. It’s my personal playground, void of some responsibilities. The place where I am cradled by Mother Nature. Wrapped tightly in her arms. The place where a mother can regroup and recharge. The place I prefer over any machine. My zone. Mommy’s Playground.
It is wide open out there. The hardest part is starting. But when you finish, you will be renewed. Breathe it in, take it in and stimulate your senses. Break a little sweat, get dirty, run hard and play.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing” – Benjamin Franklin
So what do you prefer? Do you venture off the beaten path or stay on the guided trail? Do you prefer to get your thrill ride via a machine?
In a new post created for this challenge, share a picture that says FUTURE TENSE.
The start of a toddlers day involves chocolate milk, changing out of a pull-up and watching Blues Clues. It’s the little things in the mind of a three-year old that gets their day off to the right start.
Then one day my little Peeno just gazed out the window. As he was watching the neighbors head off to work and his older brothers leaving on the bus he turned to me and said, “One day mommy I will be like them.” Then he went back to making sound effects of Thomas while he drove his train along the windowsill.
One day my little man, one day.
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time – Abraham Lincoln