I haven’t been so on top of the blog entries, fine-tuning “Crocodile Rock” for publication has been consuming my early morning/late night/in between writing sessions, but after seeing a friend’s FB post on exercising with babies I was inspired to blog.
The wash of memories that flooded through my mind really surprised me. I knew that the trauma of one hour of sleep per week during the early years was locked away somewhere… of diapers that did not live up to expectation in public locations and the absolute horror in the stares of onlookers… of sitting up all night in a steaming bathroom with a croup-y baby while someone drove my husband to the ER for some uber bug he had caught when we had said baby in the hospital the day before… the mental war strategies of potty training is a bit fresher, dredged up by taking the plunge with my youngest this summer (that word was intentional.)
But recalling the days when I was nursing while somehow doing other things at the same time, because nursing takes up so much of your time that you physically MUST have the ability to multi-task. Or a full-time personal assistant with a strong stomach. The memory of errands taking longer than planned and the baby was starving, so I pulled the truck to the far corner of the parking lot and crawled in the back seat to nurse her while performing AC/DC’s greatest hits in Cookie Monster’s voice for my other two toddlers. Somewhere in the back of my mind that day I wondered if I was crazy.
Crazy, that word can mean so many things. In retrospect, I think I was. Crazy. Just crazy enough…to be a mommy.
Somehow we made it through the nursing years, through the newborn-infant-toddler years, intact. Now we are to the kid years. Except for my 8 year old, who is closer to 35 than I am, if you ask her. And some things are indeed easier. Exercising, for example. After my third daughter was born I decided I was going to be a runner. So I went out and ran EVERY. DAY. Mostly before the kids were up or after they were asleep, or on the treadmill while they played with daddy in the next room. Then I started telling them about my runs, about the sunset or the dog that chased me or the first snowflakes of the season falling around me, and they wanted to go too.
Now we have family runs a couple of times a week. The first was on the fabulous Legacy Trail in Lexington. Mostly, we lace up and head out in our awesome neighborhood. The oldest two run ahead, high-five us when we get there, my youngest runs-walks-gets carried-picks wildflowers, and my husband and I alternate staying back with her while the other sprints ahead. Kind of like running in spurts and totally not the peaceful vibe of the early morning runs or starry night runs or even middle of the day long runs. But we love it. The memories are warm and vital and a unique part of our family.
Thinking back to the time the girls were babies and their needs seemed so overwhelming that even taking a breath to myself felt somehow criminal, the happy moments we share on our family runs are not anything I could have predicted. But sweeter, as they have been earned. And recalling the hectic day to day of being productive while concurrently raising infants and toddlers that seems so impossible to me now, the feeling and the memories made are even more special.
At the end of our run last night, my youngest two and I jumped up and down Rocky-style on the hill of our driveway. The look of pride on their flushed faces made my heart squeeze. I remember when they struggled in the NICU, when they were pale or cranky in their clear cases with tubes attached to them and I couldn’t even hold their little hands. Now they are vibrant and alive and running the wicked hills of our neighborhood and proud of themselves in away that will hopefully carry on their whole lives.
So to my friends who are in the trenches of infant-baby-toddlerhood and wondering if it’s ever going to get better, if it’s even worth it to take a few moments to yourself. Yes. It does, and it is. Your kids are worth this fight. And, perhaps most importantly, so are YOU.