We had a great weekend with the kids here in Ashland, the last weekend before Brandon goes back on the road for football season. It feels a little bit like a storm front is on the horizon. There’s only a few more hours of daylight to soak up before hunkering down inside for the long night of lightning and thunder.
It isn’t that bad, really, it’s just different from what we’ve been used to for the last three months or so. It’s much faster paced, more scheduled, more demanding, more exhausting. Summer is over. I am taking deep breaths and long sighs; I am mentally stretching and flexing for the quickened pace. I’m out of practice, haven’t trained for the coming marathon.
So tonight I went for a run after Elvis’s late birthday party, after our parents left and the kids were bathed and ready for bed. I didn’t take my phone, didn’t wear headphones, knew that if I ran through King Ridge and back toward campus it’d be about three miles or so, a solid 30 to 45 minutes. I haven’t run since July 9 but I figured if I took it slow enough I could make the distance.
Sometimes I have to run without music in my head; it invites the kind of plodding out of thoughts and emotions and prayers that require pounding feet and even breaths, and as I rounded corners I welcomed the stream of conscious ponderings.
I made some commitments to myself about exercise (before work), about date night (probably once every other week, maybe once a week), about how to handle the evenings when BW is out of town (friends and wine and when they aren’t available, writing and books), and I made some concessions about time and weeknights.
Let’s face it: turning thirty doesn’t just mean I get to feel like the adult that I am a little bit more. It also means I have three children who require, demand, and deserve my time and attention from 5 p.m. until they go to bed at 8 p.m., whether that means carting them off to soccer practice (which will take place four out of five weeknights the first few weeks– gah!) or just skipping out on the temptation to commit to a dozen non-children oriented evening activities.
With Brandon leaving town Thursdays or Friday mornings and returning late Saturday or Sunday each week, I have to admit to a weight pressing down on my chest right now, a wearing down thinking about just me and the kids those days and nights. I love the time I get to spend with them on the weekends, love going places and doing things with just the three of them, but I also know what it’s like when it’s all of us during the summer, when we’re a less scheduled and stressed family unit. And I know Saturday morning soccer standing in the cold wet with a toddler and a preschooler. And I know packing up the kids for church and standing in the pew alone. And I know family gatherings with me and the kids, taking pictures and sending them out to Facebook so he can see them. I don’t want him to go. I miss my husband already and he’s sitting eight feet away.
Now that I’ve finished throwing myself that little pity party, bawling and sobbing and causing Brandon to worry about his crazy little wife and her sudden eruption, let me say too how grateful I am for this work and that it is important for our family, financially and strategically, that he has this work and this schedule so one of us can be at home with the kids any time we’re needed. This is important and good for them, especially good for Henry, and maybe in a few years when he’s in school things will be different, but until then, it’s so great that Brandon can be here for Elvis and Henry during the day. It’s so great that we can both parent our children, even if it is in shifts. It’s so great to be able to work off some of the debt that we keep piling on and then chiseling away at. It’s so great to be blessed with jobs at all, let alone jobs we enjoy and are proud to do.
Running is a lot like writing, the outcome is unknown (exhausting or satisfying), both require an undistracted block of time, and both take you routes you might not have traveled otherwise. Both always lead me home.
“Sow your seeds in the morning, and at night let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Somewhere in Ecclesiastes