Day #138: Strength is Beauty and Sometimes Your Legs Fall Off

Today we ran five miles…a maintenance run at this point in our training…I huffed and puffed a little…had some water…and cranked it out in about an hour…like its no big deal…

Little love got a new bike today. Her old bike was WAY too small and so let her pick out a new one for Easter. She was SO excited and wanted to immediately ride it to Mimi’s house to show it off.

Oh how she struggled…up the hills was hard, steering was “iffy”, and I about had a heart attach every time she almost didn’t stop. She was a little discouraged and a lot tired by the time we got back home.

I reminded her…”remember when Craigy and I first started running?” She nodded her head, “I could barely go a mile without feeling like my legs were going to fall off!” She giggled a little, “But now we can run 12 miles without stopping!” She looked at me like ‘Get to the point, lady.’ “You practice riding your bike like we practice running and you will be going all over in no time!”

Later, I hear her reporting to her Craigy, “I just have to practice so I can get strong legs.”

And that, dear friends, is why I run, why strength is beauty, and health is vibrant…because I have one little human that sees all that I do and trusts that it is good enough for her too…

Day #111: At Some Point, Growth Happens

Today I cross-trained… I took on Jillian Michaels in one of her 30 days to awesomeness. Honestly, I thought I would kill the 20 minute workout. I mean, I had run for two hours just a few days ago… surely I could hang in there for 20 minutes… I was wrong… so wrong–and three days later (yes, I’m behind on my writing… don’t judge me!) I’m still sore!

So I’m still not ready for the Iron Man I guess… but baby steps, right?

Today I also watched a client of mine put together a learning game. He did it mostly by himself… identifying the numbers, counting the objects, and matching them. He told me what all the pictures were and ordered the numbers from smallest to biggest. It was inspirational to watch because not even a year ago he was barely talking. And some where between the months and months of parents advocating, speech therapist talking, occupational therapist teaching, and play therapist (that’s me) engaging… he has taken a million baby steps to blossom into this bright, curious, affectionate little boy.

I rarely get to see the results of the work I do with these kids so clearly and I most assuredly cannot take much of the credit for his beautiful growth but as I sat alone with him in a small room listening to him chatter away about the pictures and the numbers I could not stop the tears from spilling over.

Every little step leads somewhere, my sweet friends, where are you headed?

Day #106: Don’t Blink, the Present is Becoming the Past

I was abruptly woken up at 5am by a little love complaining about her tummy hurting. Initially, I was very disappointed about being awake so early on a snow day but the next thing I knew we were running for the bathroom. And that pretty well summed up the rest of my day…

Finally about 4:00pm, after medicine and a nap, her stomach seemed to stop waging war with her. For some reason as she began to feel better, she got in her head she wanted to look at pictures. So we got out the baby books (yes, plural, she is the first!). As we looked and talked and laughed and sat side by side, I felt such nostalgia but such pride too.

What once was so little now is so strong… so helpless–now screams with independence… she has developed such intelligence, creativity, and personality… she is becoming right now… learning who she is and deciding what she likes and dislikes… she is beautiful in so many vibrant ways.

But I mourn too… the squishy and the toothless grins… being able to snuggle and dress her without her opinion about either… I miss watching her learn to walk and talk… I miss the mispronounced words and the squeaky voice… I miss the littlest versions of her.

I stayed up after she was asleep and looked through hundreds of digital pictures… remembering… reliving… re-loving that girl that I have always seemed to grow, first physically and now emotionally and intellectually…

Don’t blink, gentle readers, or the present most certainly becomes the past…

A girl sleeping in a colorful bed.

Day #104: Some Days are Way Too Much

I am having an introverted day and even the thought of sharing my thoughts and feelings here feels like too much energy.

 
I ran another 5 miles today. Struggled through some, soared through a little. Mostly I hated the loud music in my ears but needed the tempo to keep me going. The lights in the gym were so bright and people were everywhere. It was taxing in more ways than one…

 
My little love came home from her dad’s house and said so many words in the first five minutes I thought I might completely lose it. But managed to successfully navigate her to bed without sticking socks in my ears… or her mouth

 
Another load of laundry… another dishwasher full of dishes… now to put away the laundry and take a shower…

 
Then into my blissfully dark and silent bed with my Love in his solid weight and warmth against me… and that will by far be my favorite part of this “way too much” day…

 
Good night my gentle readers…

Day #92: Mole Hills are Really Just Mole Hills

She lost her tooth today! She dreaded it, begged me not to touch (even though it was hanging by a thread), and cried when I asked her to let me give it one tug. She had built up in her mind as horrifically painful and scary.

I understand… I do that with my training runs. Today was only four miles (cue eye roll here) but I had a tough run Tuesday so I have been dreading today. Strangely, a toe on my left foot hurts and it has made my form difficult this week. Funny how something so small can wreak so much havoc…

I finally convinced her to let me put my hand in her mouth. She gave me permission for one tug. The tooth was laying completely flat on its side so I knew it was beyond ready. I tugged, the tooth popped out, my little love screamed then cried, then laughed, then cried some more. About ten minutes later with a cool washrag in her mouth looking down at her tooth in the tiny treasure chest, she says, “That really wasn’t too bad.”

As wrapped up four miles of nonstop running that I took in small chunks of changed paced, different hill patterns, and awesome trance music — I realized, “I’m done and I could keep running; that wasn’t so bad.”

Little love and I walked around the house tonight with a slight swag that only comes from both facing and conquering our fear.

We are human; hear us roar!

Six year old girl close up of first lost tooth.
First lost tooth. Tears and laughter sometimes come together.

Day #88: Cuddles and the Fear of Being Discarded

Today I reveled in having my little love around. She is often gone on the weekends to her dad’s house and while I understand her need for her father and agree that they should share a relationship, the selfish part of me misses her like crazy on the weekends.

Mr. Meander had to go back to Fayetteville for some new running shoes because the ones we bought Friday were too big, so he was gone a chunk of the day. We missed him terribly but set about to busy ourselves until he got home.

I took her to the indoor pool at the gym where we played mermaids and horsey and anything else her mind could dream up. We grabbed Sonic on the way home and watched “The Book of Life” together as we devoured our food (after swimming for two hours we were both pretty ravenous) and then cuddled. We colored together and talked through it all. It was an amazing day of quality time that was much needed for me and probably her too.

My biggest hope in all the world is that one day she gets how awesome she is and how much I love her. I spend so much time worried at his point that maybe I’m screwing it all up… I know every good parent feels this way but still… my greatest parenting goal is for her to always feel like she can talk to me about anything, that communication stays open no matter the age… my biggest fear as a divorced parent is that she will choose to get away from me at some point.

But today in the midst of play and cuddles, I laid down the future angst and I just enjoyed her. It felt good and without agenda, I should really try it more often.

Bearded man in black hat, sitting on couch with his arm around blonde girl, wathching television.

Day #85: Childhood-Wild and Free

I was sitting on this bench waiting for Adalie to come out of her school. First, I heard a mother scolding her child for honking her horn. Then I hear a daycare teacher hushing a group while she was waiting on the rest of the children. Finally, a little boy runs up to my bench, climbs up it, jumps off, and rolls down the hill in the grass. His mother, close behind, immediately starts in on him. Now he’s dirty, now he’ll get her car dirty, now she’ll have to wash his jacket.

And it all made me realize how hard we work to contain children. The wild, raw energy that’s so curious and uninhibited. Such beauty in their excited voices, their wild eyes, their never ending flow of body, and their wide, wide smiles.

I watched her later that evening, dancing around the living room in her sequins and wild colors. Her body vibrant with movement, her checks flushed, and her voice strong.

And I thought about what all we do to quiet that voice in a child. In the hallways and the lunchrooms, in the night hours and church services. We “shh” their comments and frown at their inquiries. I send her nonverbal cues that her continuous talking annoys me.

I didn’t want to run today. I’m still just so tired. But I got out there and I chose to do it, it wasn’t even too bad. But I thought as I ran about how life can feel like this run, obligated, serious, and necessary, but not fun. I vowed to enjoy my ball of fun as much as I could tonight with her loud ways, her literal comments, and her ever-changing moods. I vowed to enjoy her sparkles and laughter, her stories and energy. I vowed to love her tonight with as little control as necessary. Because we are given the freedom to be and express ourselves–why shouldn’t a child?

Young blonde girl with flushed cheeks asleep on a colorful blanket.

Day #21

It’s an odd feeling to observe your child on “the outside.” I know exactly how she will react to things almost every single time at home. The dynamics are set, the routine is steady, and the rules stay the same. But last night and today I was merely present with her at two different parties and the behavior was fascinating. To see her interact with other children, try new things, and observe and adapt her own behavior based on those around her, made me realize a few¬†things:

  • I way underestimate her and I have much to be proud of in her. She went out of her way to be kind and make others (especially younger or shy) feel comfortable.
  • She went out in a crowd of perfect strangers and skated her heart out while singing despite her uncertainty on skates.
  • She continually put herself out there at a birthday party where she didn’t know anyone but the birthday girl… introducing herself, giggling, and talking with everyone at the table.

Blonde child skating with assistance in a purple and red rink.It also made me realize the importance of adaptability and resiliency. And I may not get it all right on this parenting venture; however, this weekend watching my girl, I know I’m not getting it all wrong either. This leads to a deep sigh of relief and about 7 seconds of not worrying about her.

In the spirit of change, we drove instead of walked tonight. We packed the dogs in the crew cab, stuck Adalie in the front between us, and with hot chocolate and Christmas-light-scavenger-hunt-list in hand, went for a long drive. We oohed and wowed at lights and music and decorations. Until two tired puppies and one sweet girl whined to go home.

He came around to my door to help me with a sleeping Adalie.

“This has been the happiest year of my life,” he whispered, taking her to her bed.

I teared up… Adaptability and resiliency win again.young-girl-sleeping

Day #9

“Too much burden will halt your progress. Loosen up so that you can be swift.” –

Alissa Reddy, The Art of Mindfulness for Children

I watched her eyes well up with tears because Mistletoe did not come back this year… he sent a girl elf on the shelf instead. She had been begging for a “girl elf” for two Christmases.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her panic searching for her phone, her clipboard, her anything to take to her after school program as we are walking out the door for school. I encouraged her to breathe, to be creative, to think outside the box about what she could do this afternoon, instead.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her fall to pieces over the realization that her lunchbox sat happily at home on the couch. Even as I assured her I would go back and get it. Even as she nodded in agreement that it wasn’t a big deal.

She cried. Nothing about this morning had gone according to plan.

The pain of letting go…

It was wet and cold so I needed a new walking plan. Instead of my usual scenic route, I headed to the mall to do a lap. It was noisy and distracting and not at all my norm but I rolled with it. And as I did, I thought about my girl-baby and hoped her day was going better. I thought about her rigidness and anxiety that often flairs into panic and irritability. I have been reading a book about mindfulness for children and one of the goals taught is the art of “letting go” as defined by the author Alissa Reddy:

“Letting go entails leaving situations as they are and allowing events to unfold as they are supposed to.”

My beautiful strong princess is not good at this, but I wondered as I walked if I was so much better. Expectations often give way to disappointment, schedule often becomes law, and roles often box people in until they have no room to be themselves. I watch myself take life so seriously-over and over. There are chores to be done, mouths to be fed, money to be earned. I spin plates and plates until it is comical that I think it is achievable. Then, always, one little thing breaks or bobs or goes off kilter, and it all comes crashing down around me.

The pain of letting go…a child sleeping with a stuffed owl

Day #4

gray-boots-in-leavesHe came and took her away from me today.

Granted, “he” is her father and this is “his” holiday per standard visitation. But it felt like he took a part of me and drove it six hours away.¬† I love my current life. I am a happier, freer, and more loving person since my divorce from man and establishment.

But some days…

Some days I feel heavy with losing out on so much of her childhood. Some days I hate that I miss any holidays with the child I grew to spend holidays with…

So I walk solemnly…

at first…

but before long…

the leaves tickle my toes, the sunset catches my imagination, and the playful animals scurrying about make me giggle. We have real, adult conversation, and we stroll. There are no mouths to feed, no schedules to keep, and no agenda but my own. And the road just keeps walking us along.

A lot like life…