We live in a rural area. To put it less delicately: we live out in the sticks. It’s only a few miles outside of the nearest little town, and only about 25 miles from the nearest big city, but it feels far out enough to forget about what’s going on there. I’ve started running again, after taking the winter off. There’s a lesson in giving myself grace in there somewhere, but I’ll save that for another day.
I’ve spent the last two summers training to run a 5K race in September. I’m notably the least athletic person in my extended family. My lack of coordination combined with asthma sealed the deal, and I spent the better part of 30 years believing I should stay on the sidelines. It wasn’t until after I had borne two children and pushed my body to its limits, coming out stronger and better, that I thought maybe it was worth more than what I’d been led to believe. I had faced down childbirth and finally felt brave and strong for the first time in my life. So, I downloaded a tracking app, learned how to stretch, and slowly, so very slowly, put one foot in front of another until I could jog 3.1 miles without quitting. I’ve always done the majority of my training on our country roads. They are familiar. I know the landmarks: the big oak tree marks half a mile, the house with the two big dogs marks a full mile. I take comfort in the routine and the sights I know so well. Recently, Adam, as a surprise, carved out a trail in the back part of our ten acres. He spent days clearing out small trees in the wooded area and brush-hogging the pasture to create a clear, 4-foot wide loop that comes out to be a third of a mile. “Isn’t it great? You don’t have to run in the road or worry about cars back here, or dogs. I even cleared an area I’ll keep mowed down so the girls can play right here while you run. I recognized this immediately as an act of love, but I felt a little misunderstood. Doesn’t he know that I like running in the road? Or that I’m kind of terrified of what is in the woods besides cars and dogs? He walked me back through the trail, giving me the grand tour. “I think there’s something that lives in this burrow, but it won’t bother you.” Gulp. “And I did my best to cut these flush to the ground, but there’s a knot right here that you should try not to trip over.” Great. “Okay, so I have seen a snake near this pile of wood, but not recently.” Are you kidding me?! “Yeah, no. I can’t. I’m sorry, but I know I am going to fall down, and I’m positive that every living thing in here will come out in the broad daylight even if they usually sleep all day, and I know for a fact that I will step on a snake and die.” I said this with what I’m sure was a wild look in my eye. “What are you so afraid of?” “Everything,” I said in a small voice. “Just try it. I think you’ll like it. Good luck!” And with that, he walked back up to the house and left me to stew in my own fear. I walked the trail once, muttering to myself and dodging imaginary predators the whole way. Then I realized, very reluctantly, that it was actually okay. Maybe even a little nice. No cars, no dogs, no witnesses when I get a weird cramp and need to stretch in compromising positions. Best of all, I’d be running around a field of wildflowers. I put in my earbuds, started The Office Ladies podcast, and slowly began to trod my way through the trail. Over the course of two miles, I didn’t fall once. I saw nothing with scales or sharp teeth. I didn’t even wind up with a bug bite. I was a little brave that day, and each time I have gone out since, I’ve done so with a little more confidence. I’m turning into the kind of girl who runs through the woods. That literally makes me laugh out loud to say, but there you have it. This summer, instead of only focusing on one foot in front of the other, I’m stretching my courage along with my hamstrings. Strength and bravery are in me, somewhere. I’m ready to bring them with me on the trail.
This evening, I left work and headed to pick up Annie. She was with my family at my sister’s softball game, and I was going to get her there early so she wouldn’t be out in the heat long. I got there a little after the game started, and she was content, drinking her milk, just peering at those around her. I sat down next to her and said, “Hi, baby.” She turned to me, and I picked her up. She laughed and put both of her tiny hands on my face. My sweet daughter, who I’d missed all day, had missed me, too. Any stress I’d felt at work quickly faded, and we were content.
We loaded up and started the forty-five minute drive home. Annie was restless and cried, loudly, from the moment I put her in her car seat. I needed to get home, so I could unload the dishwasher, start dinner, pick up the house, feed Annie again. Instead, I pulled over and got Annie out of her seat. She looked so relieved that I had come to rescue her! She needed me. We sat in the driver’s seat, and she gnawed on the steering wheel and laughed at the cute baby in the mirror. We sat there for about ten minutes, and when I put her back in her seat, she fussed a little, but quickly calmed down and fell asleep.
I work full-time, and at 5:00, I switch gears. I put my remaining energy into being a good mama and a good wife. Those last five or so hours of the day is what I have with my family during the week, and I try to make the most of it. At the end of the day, I’m tired. And I sometimes feel like I haven’t done enough. My kitchen floor desperately needs mopped, and the laundry is piling up (how is it so endless?). However – not always, but usually – I have loved. I have loved my husband and I have loved my girl by taking care of them the best way I know how. Tonight, that meant pulling over and holding my baby for a few minutes before we hit the ground running again.
Annie has taught me so much already. Every once in a while, she gives me a gentle reminder to slow down. And then she rewards me with her lopsided smile.Thank you for that, lovie.
P.S. I have ideas on a post on being a working mother rolling around in my head, but surprise – haven’t found time to put it together! But for now, I’ll leave you with this: I really believe we’re all working mothers, whether you are away from your baby forty hours a week, or if you’ve taken on the full-time job of raising your baby. I think both ways can be so hard. So whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing the best you can, you’re doing a good job.
That day last week when my menu for the day consisted of a cheeseburger, a chocolate shake, and popcorn. (Except - yum!)
Trying out Amazon Prime. I bought a couple of random things I didn't need just because of free shipping. Such a sucker!
Stuttering through the end of my presentation at a high school senior assembly last week, which went something like this: "I wish you the best of wishes! I mean, um, luck. The best of luck.. Thanks." *sulk off stage in shame*
Ruining a cobbler because I can't do math. I was trying to not quite double the recipe, but numbers and I don't mix very well. So dumb. And so salty.
Staying up too late three nights in a row. I need 8-10 hours of sleep. I just do. Big baby.
Flashing a dorky thumbs up on stage at an awards assembly at my high school. Yep.
Flashing another dorky thumbs up here. (But how cute are my matching coworkers?)
In the future: probably more kitchen blunders, thumbs up incidents, etc.I'm quite the charming young lady. 🙂 Hope you all are having a great week!Love, Bekah