Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am A Runner

I run. I am a runner. Of course, I am a runner in the same way that I am a writer. I am a runner not because of any acclaim, not because I am good at it. I am a runner only because I run, or maybe we should just tell the truth and call it jogging. Nonetheless, I run.

I may be the world’s worst runner. Picture a three-year-old child running toward the swings, arms flapping, zero form, just trying to get to the fun. That is what I look like running. It is ridiculous.

Besides that, I do not actually like to run. It is hard. I sweat, and I can’t catch my breath. My face gets all red and my legs ache. I also find it incredibly boring. Mainly, I just think about all the things I want to write. I create worlds and opinions and arguments as I stomp down one foot in front of the other.

However, I still run, usually, a few times a week. I do this because I know the end game. I know when the run is over and I am standing, hands on my knees, in my front yard or on the treadmill, trying to catch my breath that I will be happy that I ran. I will have a bit of pride and a deep gratitude. Pride in the discipline to do the work and gratitude for a body still able to exercise hard.

I run so that I can chase my children around the soccer field. I run because my own mom had a stroke in her mid-fifties. I run because I am stubborn. I run because I am anxious. And truth be told, I run because I want to be fit and thin.

Running may not be a cure all. I may still have a stroke in my fifties. Running doesn’t always keep my anxiety in check. But, it does make me free. And strong. And brave. And tough.

So I will keep running and writing. I will scratch both out in spite of my skill or grace in the endeavor.

You can too, you know. Whatever the thing is that you want to do, just get to doing it - one foot in front of the other, until one day you find your elusive nine minute mile.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jack's Last Day of Preschool

I didn't expect it to feel like a punch to the gut. For months, I knew the day was coming. How is it then that it snuck up on me?

Winter lingered long this year. Maybe the May snow tricked me into thinking I had more time. But sure enough, the last day of preschool arrived like a thief in the night.

Last day of preschool

First day of preschool

Do you know those first day of kindergarten posts that always pop up on Facebook and Instagram? The ones of tentative children and weepy mothers? I've always thought those were slightly dramatic. I mean, the kids are going to school not to war. Oh, silly me, I was wrong.

That morning as Jack dressed and headed out the door, I couldn't even get him to stand still for a momentous photo - the last day of preschool. The end of an era. Didn't he grasp the importance? No, he just knew snack would probably be something sugary since it was the last day. He just wanted to get there and be done.

I snapped a few forced shots before loading us into the car. My throat caught and I couldn't breath right. What in the heck was happening to me? Surely, I could make the drop without a meltdown.

Jack bounced out of the car and into his classroom. He was excited and full of energy. I held back tears and refused to make eye contact with the other mothers. After walking out of the little red schoolhouse with Grace on my hip, I sat in my car and weeped. Weeped as if my baby boy had gone to war.

Baby Jack is gone. He is bike riding, Lego building, fence climbing, doing it on his own Jack now.

I miss baby Jack, but I love five-year-old Jack. He is funny and interesting. He is my heart, always has been, this first born child who challenged me. Who still challenges me.

I counted down the years that day in the car while wiping snot with the back of my hand, because surely I wouldn't need a tissue on the last day of preschool. 13. Only 13 more years until high school graduation. That is shorter than the time I have been out of college and wasn't that just yesterday?!

So long baby Jack. And don't mind the crazy lady sneaking into your room after you fall asleep. I may crawl in beside you and smell your hair and watch you sleep. Like I used to when you would fall asleep in my arms nursing. And don't mind me next month when I wield my tissues and weep as I drop you off for kindergarten.