Today, I Went for a Run

Today, I went for a run.

The first member of my family in my parent’s generation passed away early this morning. My uncle has been fighting a valiant fight against prostate cancer for the last 15 years. I hear he went peacefully, on his terms, with his wife by his side and a smile on his face. No fear, he has said through this process. No fear.
My uncle was a high school teacher and track coach. When I was in middle school, he would tell me I should run track. Hurdles, he said. I want to see you run hurdles. I never did. Running never appealed to me. As I’ve gotten older, I found I wish I did want to run. There’s a romance to it. A peacefulness I recognize, now. But the fact of the matter is, I’m just not a runner.
Today, I went for a run.
Friday night, the high school my uncle dedicated his career to, will be dedicating its track in his honor. It’s been scheduled for some time now and he had hoped to attend. Until last week. Instead, my cousins and my aunt will stand surrounded by the community they gave so much to and that gave so much to them and see the Acton Boxborough Regional High School track named for Richard E. Dow.
Today, I went for a run.
The news this morning wasn’t unexpected, but it still hurts. It still scares me that someone so close to my parents’ age is gone. It still pains me that my cousins have lost a father, that my aunt lost her husband, that my father lost a brother-in-law, that my other uncles lost a friend.
Today, after Peanut’s preschool Halloween parade, class party, and packing for a trip we leave for tomorrow, I loaded up the kids in the Double BOB and I went for a run. I felt my head clear. I watched Peachtree Creek, full from yesterday’s rain, run the opposite direction. I smelled the damp ground. I felt my physical self as my feet found their rhythm against the pavement, my breath evened and my heart pounded in my chest. I heard a crow in a nearby tree, the distant rumble of the growing rush hour traffic. I found myself completely focused on the present. A rare gift.
Today.
In honor of my uncle. To take a moment and mourn him. To join his legacy of runners (if only for a half an hour).
I went for a run.

Busy Day: Then and Now

I have a lot going on today: play date this afternoon, dinner with a friend who is in town for a conference, followed by book club at 8pm.

And I found myself stressing about all this activity before I went to bed last night.
This morning, however, as I was making muffins for the play date and debating whether to blow dry my hair or pray that the humidity gods will make the curl livable, I laughed at how times they have changed.
There was a time in my working world where one meeting at 2pm, a happy hour with a client, ending with a book club date in the evening would have been nothing. That would have just been a Tuesday. Nothing special. Nothing to stress about. In fact, I probably would have been stressing that there wasn’t a 10am and a lunch meeting in there, too.
So how come it suddenly seems so daunting when I have three items on one day’s calendar?
The pace of life as a stay at home mom is certainly different. The monotony of the day to day tasks move at a snail’s pace sometimes compared to the fast paced meeting-to-meeting-to-proposal-writing-to-conference-call-to-commute that made up my working days. Routine is a mommy’s friend, so three changes to that routine in one day is actually quite an anomaly. Not to mention the fact that I was only responsible for getting me and maybe a presentation or proposal to a meeting – not two kids, a diaper bag, snacks, activities to distract them during dinner and a plan to make sure car seats are in the right cars for the kid switch post-dinner.
Oh well. Times they have changed. And I’m okay with that. Let someone else run the rat race for a little while. I’m good.

NaNoWriMo Pre-Update: Under Pressure

I am starting to panic.

My throat is tightening at the thought.
And yet every day. There it is. One day closer.
November.
Holy cow, what was I thinking committing to Nanowrimo? Really? Why hasn’t anyone tried to talk me out of this? Instead, you’ve all been so blindly supportive that I thought, no problem. I GOT this.
Now? With only 6 days separating me from November 1st? Freaking out a little bit.
In all honesty, I’m not totally clear what I want to write. Probably not a good sign, huh? I have some characters in mind. I have a general premise. But plot? In need of one. Background? Might be nice to have one. Setting? Cluelessville.
And so I’ve started to panic.
I really don’t know what’s going to happen in November with this self-imposed challenge to bang out 50,000 words in a month. I’m not sure how to physically fit it in considering the challenge starts during one trip and ends shortly after another. I have no idea where to start. And instead of being proactive and seeking out advice, getting some research done or jotting down some outlines and ideas, I’ve been focusing on Halloween and trip preparations, cleaning out my closets and organizing the desk.
I have to admit, part of me is enjoying the panic and is excited by it. I’m curious to see what will happen. Will I sink or swim? Will magic happen? Will it be completely painful every minute? Will I finish? The fact is, I haven’t done this before and the whole point of this exaggerated exercise is to force myself to find out what it’s like, where my weaknesses are, how I work, what my process is.
And the other part of me is screaming into a pillow: WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!
So thank you for all your encouragement and support both here and in person. It means a lot to me, your unconditional faith. I will try not to let you down. I will try not to let myself down. Let’s just say, at this point, I will TRY.
Now where did that pillow get to?

Bad Mommy Moments

I have mentioned before that I am a Stroller Strider. Make no mistake, this is no stroll. The trainers here mean business and as much as I vocally complain during class, I totally love it for the camaraderie, the fitness example I can set for my children and the less jiggle in my jeans than would otherwise be there post babies.

During a recent class, we had several new moms to the group. The day’s trainer came up with a fun way to distract us from the push-ups and step-ups and lunges and ab work by asking an endless number of get to know you questions. We spent the class learning each other’s favorite junk foods, movies that make us cry, trend we just can’t pull off, teen heart throbs and list toppers (you know, that list?).
Towards the end of class, she benignly asked, “What’s your worst mommy moment?” The answers started with some of the moms of the youngest babies. Cute answers emerged like, “I totally scratched my baby putting him in the car seat.” Or “I forgot to change her diaper and then wondered why she was upset at dinner.” Or “I let him cry in the exersaucer for a few minutes so I can check my email.”
I shot a look to my friend who has two kids about the same ages as mine and with whom I share my truly bad mommy moments and we giggled to each other quietly, “Just wait.”
Just wait until you yell at your child. In public. Just wait until your child is choking on a grape you gave him and you’re on the phone with 911 waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Just wait until your 5 month old falls off the bed while you’re trying to put your older child in time out. Just wait until you snap at both your kids that mommy needs quiet time. Just wait until you wonder if all your mommy moments are bad mommy moments.
But they aren’t. They happen. To all of us. And we survive them. More importantly, our children survive them. We aren’t perfect, as much as we strive to be. Our children, as much as we wish they were or expect them to be, are far from perfect, too. And that’s okay. If everything was so perfect all the time, would we laugh as hard at the malapropisms of a four year old at dinner? Would the slimy, squished avocado all over a naked baby belly and elbow and cheeks and hair be as endearing? Would the moment of quiet that descends on the house after bedtime be as peaceful? Would the glass of wine taste as delicious as it does after one of “those”days?
I like my life a little messy. I’ll own my bad mommy moments and try hard not to repeat them. God knows there will be plenty of new ones to meet me down the road.
There is a reason that people don’t pull you aside at your baby shower to clue you into the sheer number of moments you’ll feel like bad mommy. It’s because the good mommy moments are that much sweeter because of them.
So all you new moms who are feeling guilty for accidentally clipping that pesky baby nail too short or not checking on that weird cry in the middle of the night only to find your son covered in dried vomit the next morning, don’t worry. It gets worse. And it gets oh so much better.

Thank You, Thursday

Thursdays, the Peanut stays at school until 2pm. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love those extra two hours once a week. Part of me feels guilty for feeling this good, but it’s less about Peanut not being here and more about relaxed, one-on-one time with one child. Admittedly, one child who is a lot easier to entertain with a wooden spoon and stainless steel bowl than the other is. Not having to rush after Pumpkin’s morning nap to make carpool doesn’t hurt my goodwill feelings towards Thursday, either.

So today, I had a second cup of coffee, did some online research for that pesky November project, surfed eBay for some vintage hardware I’m in need of and cleaned up the kitchen. And that was only during Pumpkin’s morning nap. Once he was awake, we read some stories, picked up some toys, put Little People in a bus, took Little People out of a bus, put Little People in a bus…, had lunch, played with a ball, giggled, watched the curtains move in the breeze.
I can’t afford a nanny or regular babysitter. I don’t have a cleaning lady. Shoot, we don’t even have our yard service anymore. What I do have is lunch bunch every Thursday afternoon to give mommy a little breathing room. And it is worth each and every penny.
The bonus? Once we got home, Pumpkin went down for his afternoon nap and Peanut’s having some rest time…even more time for mama! Did I mention how much I love Thursdays?

Running My Own Race

I recently had the opportunity to see Secretariat*, Disney’s newest inspiring true story movie along the lines of Miracle and The Rookie. Now, I’m no movie reviewer, so if you want a real review of the movie, I would trust this guy.

I did, however, like the movie. And not just because seeing such beautiful creatures as race horses on the big screen is a sight to be seen, or because the movie managed to make suspenseful a story line whose outcome you already knew, but because it was a story of a dream realized. A dream realized for many involved with this magnificent animal, but mostly, a dream realized for Penny Chenery.
Penny Chenery. A mom. In the early 70s. Who recognized an opportunity and fought for it. A woman who seemed to live simultaneously in Denver and Virginia to keep the family farm alive for the promise of this one horse. A woman in a man’s world who simply went about her business, and kicked a little tail in the process.
As I embark on this journey to write a novel in a month, a scene from the movie keeps coming back to me (I suppose this is a spoiler, but probably not a surprise based on the fact that it’s common knowledge Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973 and this is billed as a feel-good, family movie): Just before the Belmont, the final race of the three, Penny (played by Diane Lane) is joined at the pre-race ball by her children and husband. Within the excitement of the moment, you see how very proud her children are of her, of what she has accomplished, of what is to come. Despite the fact that the journey was a hardship on her family, that it took her away for days and weeks at a time, that it strained her marriage, it was recognized in the eyes of her children. Recognized, honored and celebrated.
I watched my own mother go back to school when my younger sister started kindergarten and saw her struggle to fulfill her many roles as wife, mother, student. I saw her start a new career and will always be proud of all that she has accomplished, especially because I never considered her a working mom, she was just mom. I watched my father put up his own shingle, straining our family resources and dynamic as the once traveling businessman was soon working from home, expected to shuttle my sister and I to orthodontist appointments and practices. Despite our teenage angst, he managed to carve out a successful business and I am enormously proud of all that he has accomplished.

Attempting to write a novel in a month is less about writing the great American novel in 30 days and more about the journey, of showing my kids that with great risk comes great reward. They may be too young to remember it, sure, but I will always have the experience to share with them. And, hopefully, the road will fork into new words that need to be written, opportunities and dreams.
Because one day, what I want is for my kids to be proud of their mom in the same way I am proud of my parents. I want them to feel a part of the woman I am and am becoming. I want them to see that reinvention, challenge, hardship and risk are what create their character and are to be invited, learned from and cherished.
We will never own a Triple Crown winner, but it doesn’t mean our ending will be any less happy. As long as we remember to always run our own race.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive free passes for me and a guest to an advanced screening of Secretariat thanks to Disney and BlogHer.

Gulp

It’s so easy, as a parent, to let time slip through my fingers. At the end of a long day, it’s entirely too tempting to just throw on the sweats, crawl onto the couch and fire up the DVR.

The problem is that I am increasingly frustrated at how I tend to wear myself out for everyone else leaving me not only empty, but lacking the energy to do the things that fill me up. I’m tired of saying how much I want to write, yet doing very little of it. I’m tired of putting it off. I’m tired of making excuses and wondering what if…
And so, with great anxiety, excitement and a dash of crazy, I am announcing that I will be participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month. What does that mean? For the month of November, I have no more excuses. I will write something that resembles a novel before November 30th. 50,000 words. Come hell or high water.
I am confident that I will write a lot of crap. I am certain there will be a lot of tears. I am positive that there will be a lot of frustration as I try to find the time to do this. But, I needed a kick in the pants. A deadline. Accountability.
Yes, I’m scared to death. There are a lot of new what ifs that enter the picture and a lot of personal discomforts to endure. But, it’s time. Time to take a risk. Time for mama.
So have some patience with me in November. I may be writing here more or less depending on how it’s going. I do promise to update this space with my progress: the good, the bad and the most certainly ugly.
*Deep breath* Here we go…

Let it Be, Part II

Parenting is all about the moments. The moments you stop doing the dishes to read a story with your child. The moments you hold a hurt child in your arms. The moments of laughter. The moments that shine.

Today, my little man asked me to dance. We’d been playing an intricate game of cement truck, fire truck and police car that had more plot twists than the final season of Lost, while listening to the Beatles. As “Let it Be” began to play, he looked up and said, “Mommy, let’s dance.” And so we did.
We stood, holding hands while we swayed, spun and dipped. I lifted him up on my hip and held tight to his little boy body, so different from the baby I once rocked to endless loops of music in the late afternoons. I showed him how a gentleman dances with a lady. I rested my head on his bony shoulder, breathing in the promise of the man he’d become. I felt his little hand on my back, the giggle in his throat as we turned.
The song played on. The afternoon sun slanted through the playroom windows and, for a moment, the whole world shone.