Gift #37: Fist Pumps

He must have known.

He must have seen that I was really dragging, less than one mile into my four mile jog.  I’m sure he saw the sweat already pouring from my pink, scowling face.  Maybe he noticed that I was trying to suck my belly away from the shirt that is probably too small anyway.  Perhaps he spotted my dejected look as the group of perky, neon running ladies passed me from behind, chatting it up about pilates as they pranced along.

Yeah, I think he knew.  He knew I doubted that I could really do this.  That I was lamenting the fact that five years and two babies later, it’s just not as easy as it once was.  Maybe I’m not still a runner after all.

Most runners you pass at 7 a.m. offer a, “Morning,” at best.  Sometimes it’s a wave, or a head nod, and occasionally, nothing at all.

But not this guy.  Not this 60-some (70, maybe?), chartreuse tank-top wearing, sweatband sporting, big belly guy.  Nope.  He gave me a full-on, arm all the way raised fist pump.  Awesome.

As if to say to me, “You got this!  We got this!  We’re out here, and it’s hellahot, and we’re doing it.  Forget the prancing ladies and the ripped dudes without their shirts.  I see you, and we’re both trudging along with our bellies that used to be much flatter.  Go us.”

So I mostly got over myself at the urging of his enthusiastic fist pump.  And I slid into my now comfortable mile pace that would have before made me cringe.  I got this.

Two miles later, after I had turned around to head home, I saw him coming towards me again, still trudging in all his neon glory.  I knew what I had to do.  So as we passed that second time, I offered first my wave, but then my best, full-on fist pump too.  And I’m not sure whose smile was bigger, mine or his.

Day officially made.

As I ran that last mile, I thought about the power of a fist pump for a worn out soul, the kind stuck comparing herself to those running past.

So today I offer up my best fist pump for the worn out mommies:

The mommies letting their kids watch the third straight hour of movies before lunch time.
The mommies feeding their kids PB&J for the 97th day in a row.
The mommies letting their kids eat the dropped cereal off the floor because it’s easier than sweeping.
The mommies (and daddies!) comforting crying toddlers at 2 a.m. for the 7th consecutive night.
The mommies falling asleep during story time.
The mommies eating crazy things for breakfast like guacamole and brownies.
The mommies (and daddies, again) who find themselves saying things like, “Don’t suck on your socks…you won’t have any friends,” or, “Please don’t use your fork to scratch your armpit.”

I see you.  I’m right there with you.  We got this.


Pit stains and all.

Nothing and Something

I wonder if something really is better than nothing.  Lately all I’ve had is nothing.

In the past two weeks I’ve started a few posts and then decided that each was too boring or too whiny or too rambling before posting anything.  So here I am again, hoping that something will come of nothing.

I’ve hit that point in the school year where it starts to feel a bit hamster wheel-ish.  Here’s how it goes…

5:00 alarm.  Snooze.   5:09.  Snooze.  5:18.  5:27.  Ok….just one more….I promise.  Oh shoot.  Bubba’s awake.  Snoozing over.

We’re out the door by 7:30, mental list running of all the things I still have to do at school.   After lots of, “Hurry ups,” and, “I’m too busy to answer so many questions today,” it’s time to drop Chica off in the cafeteria.  I rush around trying to finish 27 things in the nine minutes I have left to myself.  Noticing either my panic or my exhaustion, three people stop me and ask me if everything is going okay.  Nothing’s really different from yesterday and the 20 days before, so, yep….just fine.  I’m making it.

There are occasional moments of brilliance at school, both on my part and theirs.  And most days I have at least one moment (or three or four) where I remind myself what a truly fantastic group of kids I have.  But then there are lots of moments in between where it’s hard or uninspired or disorganized or just not as good as it can be.   In those moments I make all kinds of promises myself to fix it tomorrow.  I’m still waiting for tomorrow to come, I guess.

At home it’s dinner, bath, and then bedtime.  I hit autopilot, and those hours…the ones that should be the best….just fly by.  I spend them thinking about all of the school work and house work I will accomplish when everyone is in bed, but then I get there and just can’t.  I’m too tired.  I tell myself I’ll work in the morning, but we know how that goes, right?  Snooze, snooze, snooze, Bubba…..too late.  Back in that hamster wheel.  Just keep moving.


So I’m still feeling like I’ve got a wholelotta nothing.  I’ve sat here for a long time figuring out if there’s a bigger point to this post.  It can’t be just that life is routine and blah and tiresome.  Actually, I even slept on it, hoping for a renewed perspective.  Here’s the best I’ve got…

Writing a blog is fun.  You get to pick out the funny or dramatic or pathetic moments you live and embellish them until they are worth reading about.  But then there are all the other moments in between.  If all you read (or write) about are the way ups or the way downs, the picture starts to get a little skewed.  So here I am saying that sometimes life is just normal, and you have to keep moving waiting for that next highlight.  And I’m learning to be okay with that.

Ok.  Bubba’s up.  Back on the wheel…

Things I’m Really Good At

A friend of mine joked today that she should add moving to her list of skills on her résumé.  I’ve lost count of how many times she’s had to move her classroom since I’ve been at the school.  This got me wondering what other special abilities I could add to my résumé, should I ever need it.  I’m staring a list here…

Things I’m Really Good At
Pity parties—Another day I wrote about bribing myself with ice cream to finish the dishes.  Tonight I was feeling so pouty about this most despised job, I had to have the ice cream first.
Sleeping—If there was some sort of competition, I could so go pro.
Procrastination—What do you think I’m doing right now?
Thinking on my feet—That’s what I get for being so good at procrastinating.
Delegating—Don’t tell anyone, but perfecting your delegation skills can also lead to high proficiencies in laziness.
Coming up with original ideas—Jay said I should add this one.
Making other people feel like excellent housekeepers—You know those houses you walk into and can let out a big sigh because they’re even worse at keeping house than you?  Yeah, that’s mine.
Lists—I’m especially good at making lists of:
1.  Things that need to be done at home
2.  Things that need to be done at school
Humility—This is truly one of my best traits.
Ending sentences with prepositions—Yeah, that was just the only other thing I could think of.

Back Off With Your If Onlys

The dishwasher is whirring.  Bubba is (hopefully) down for the count after two marathon feedings in a row.  My brain tells my feet, “Head to the dining room to start unpacking all of those grocery bags from vacation.”

My feet apparently decide to ignore my brain because they have found their way onto the couch in the basement.  Brain is not surprised.  This is what happens every night at this hour, followed by the nightly declaration of, “If I can only make it through….”

Tonight Brain thinks, “If I can only make it through tomorrow, then my house will be clean.  Then all will be right in the world, and I can really enjoy my summer.”

Now first off, this is ridiculous.  Sure, I have talked Jay into sequestering both kids in Nana’s house for the day.  This means I can clean in peace without any cling-ons to slow me down.  I will have a super productive hour after they leave.  Then I will reward myself with a few minutes of vegging, which will accidentally turn into 45 minutes.  Then I’ll clean for ten more minutes until I’m distracted by an old magazine, or my neglected running shoes, or a stray chin hair that just appeared.  And it will all of a sudden be lunch time, which of course should be followed by a nap, and then whadayaknow?  The cling-ons and a very tired Jay are back.  Clean house?  Yeah…not going to happen.

But secondly, more importantly, I’ve caught on to this pattern that my worn out brain has established.  You see every single day I think that if I can only make it to (fill in the blank), then life will be better.

If only I can make it to Spring Break, then I can relax.

I can’t wait until I get this huge stack of papers graded.  Then there will be no stress.

When this fifth grade play is finally finished, life will be good.

School is out in three more days.  I can already taste the freedom!

When Jay gets back from his trip, then summer can really start.

Once the power comes back on, we are going to have so much fun.

One more week until vacation.  No stress there!

So here’s the deal…I did make it to and through all those moments, but I don’t remember soaking in any of that relief my brain thought it would feel.  Instead I skipped right over the “phew” feeling and on to the next “if only”.

Listen up, Brain.  I’m tired of this rhythm.  You’ve fooled me one too many times.  I realize that we’ve got just two ways we can think about your crazy cycle:

1)  That peace that you describe will never come.  There’s always something else to do, some other deadline, or some nagging mess to clean up.  The only things that will change are the severity and the urgency of your stress.

2)  Find some way to experience joy now, right now.

Brain, I’m choosing #2.  I’m on a mission to find joy, so back off with your if onlys.

Check back tomorrow.  I hope to let you know how the search is going….and how many grocery bags I actually get unpacked.

If You Give a Girl a Bike

If your four year old asks to go on a bike ride, you’ll head to the trail.

If you head to the trail, you should probably pack some water.

If you pack some water, she’ll want to stop and drink it.

If she stops to drink it once, she’ll want to stop to drink it again.

If she stops to drink it every thirty seconds, Mommy will start to get a little aggravated.

If Mommy gets a little aggravated, she will take a deep breath and try to think of something.

If she takes a deep breath, she’ll decide to challenge the girl to ride for one whole minute without stopping.

If she rides for one whole minute, Mommy will challenge her to do two.

If she does two, she will catch on and not want to play that game anymore.

If she doesn’t want to play anymore, Mommy has to think of something new.

If Mommy thinks of something new, she’ll let the girl take a picture after every three minutes.

If she takes a picture every three minutes, there won’t be a whole lot of new material.

If there isn’t a whole lot of new material, Mommy will have to to come up with something motivating AGAIN.

If Mommy really thinks, she’ll decide to tell a story.

If she tells a story, it will most definitely be the mouse and cookie kind because that’s the only thing she can make up on the spot.

If she tells a mouse and cookie kind of story, the girl will ride for six whole minutes without stopping.

If she rides for six whole minutes without stopping, she’ll remember how much fun bike rides can be.

And tomorrow if she remembers how much fun bike rides can be, she’ll ask you to take her on another bike ride.