Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tying Shoes

Just now, tying my running shoes felt like some sacred rite. I did it slowly and carefully; hyperaware of the whole process, struggling to remember how I ever could have tied them mindlessly – over, under, pull, loop, over, under, pull, double knot – a quick process, a habit done without thinking -- with no mental fanfare.

But today? I haven’t put on a pair of running shoes in . . . months. It’s still probably far too soon. Simply tying them I felt more excitement – and more trepidation – than I have over any big race. Three miles. That’s all I’m hoping for. A distance that, on past occasions, might hardly have seemed worth leaving the house for. And yet . . . excitement. Fear.

I’ve had some nerve problems in my left foot. Then surgery. Then an infection – far worse in pain and in recovery than the surgery itself ever was. And, mostly, I’ve had a lot of fear. I’ve been on constant “silencing” patrol to a little voice deep in my gut (I know . . . gut is kind of weird . . . but it feels like it originates there) that has been sending pulses of panic and little jolts of despair up and outward – where they wrap strangling little fingers of thought tightly about my throat and whisper, “You won’t run again. You can’t be a runner now.”

I know. It’s running. Surely, should the worst case scenario be realized: should the surgery have left me worse-off than I was before and altogether unrepairable, I will find other things to fill the hole. Life won’t lose all meaning. . . .

It’s just I’ve had some of my most spiritual moments out running; I’ve composed blog posts and talks, Relief Society lessons and Primary sharing times out running; I’ve worked through what to say, or what to do about difficult or awkward situations; I’ve prayed my most sincere prayers over loved-ones in need, I’ve made mental notes and whispered breathy thank yous  up to the heavens over taken-for-granted blessings; I’ve had soul-strengthening conversation and developed close friendships; I’ve tried to start labor, wrestled out frustrations, and committed to lofty goals out running. I’ve experienced nature with a completeness and awareness I’m sure I never otherwise would have: I’ve run near blind into pelting rain and near-blizzard like snow, curved my lips tightly over teeth that threatened to crack in the cold, tucked my chin down snug to avoid having my breath completely taken away by giant gusts of wind, or been pushed near to sprinting by those same gusts at my back; I’ve nearly passed out – dripping and flushed – in temperatures far too hot for strenuous exercise; and . . . ohh, weep, I’ve felt the first real hopeful bits of spring – bare arms and legs finally not stung by cold, nostalgia sweeping over me as I catch a hint of Russian Olive or Lilac in the air; and, the first hints of autumn! . . . I might be able to fill a lot of these holes . . . but can life really ever be quite what it should be without getting to run with the sun filtering through orange and yellow leaves – feet crunching over the fallen ones that have blown their way across a trail or collected to the side of a road? Sigh. I don’t want to have to find out.

If I’ve romanticized an exhausting and miserable activity; if I’ve made it into poetry, it’s because . . . it is to me. Every run is like a tiny, little mini metaphor for life. I’ve grasped all kinds of things about what it means to have a physical body – even with it’s limits and pains and problems; I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be living here at all.

My life has always been full, somehow, of ability (and what feels like a promise from long before) to figuratively “run” as needed. As I’ve gone without tying my running shoes these past months, I’ve realized that even if I can’t run in the technical foot pounding/arm pumping sort of way; my greater blessing is in being able to do and accomplish and cope with the demands and stresses, obligations, and good and necessary calls for attention that make up my life. If “run and not be weary” only ever applies to an ability to keep doing the things that need doing, that will be more than enough. . . .

But, perhaps selfishly, I hope it doesn’t have to be.

So . . . wish a little luck to come swirling down on me as I head out on this run today, and, if you’re the praying kind, . . . I wouldn’t mind you sending up one or two of those for me as well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

And Then, Suddenly, I was the Worst Mom in the World.

I was cleaning out Penny’s lunch box yesterday when I discovered the following:

A special lunch-box note from me to Penny . . . written by Penny.

Possibly the saddest thing ever.

I don’t know why I’m “Nancy” instead of mom. I picture all the little lunch eaters pulling out their notes from home – notes from their thoughtful, loving mothers; and then Penny eagerly pulling out her forged note, “Oh! Look! My mom loves me too!”

And then some kid saying, “Why doesn’t  your mom just write ‘Mom’”?

And Penny frantically thinking, “Oh no! I knew I didn’t get this right! I’m found out!”

Meanwhile, around the house, she has glued popsicle sticks, and colored pictures, and left (at every turn) things like this for me to discover:

I would resign as mother  immediately . . . only, the gypsies haven’t come through town lately, and I don’t really know who else to give my kids to.

I did leave lunch-box notes in all the kids lunches today. And, on Penny’s, I was liberal with my doodled flowers and  Magic Marker  use.

But. It’s probably too late.

Ah well. Anders and Jesse haven’t started school yet. I can just chalk these older kids up as a loss and start fresh with those two.

(Kidding! Kidding! Quit your crying.)

Meanwhile, down on the farm:

I spy: brother and sister arm wrestling; Pikachu; a little, light bathroom reading; little feet of someone who thinks they have a grand Hide-and-Seek spot; the shoes of someone who has more important things to worry about than insignificant details such as “right shoe on right foot”; and . . . a cookie given to someone who was told they couldn’t have it, but then kept crying for it  -- which really doesn’t bother me at all now that we’ve established what kind of mother I am (see blog post title).

And, to be totally fair here, when I said lunch notes for everyone, I didn’t technically mean everyone. This morning Abe told me how funny it would be if some kid (NOT himself) got a note from his mom in his lunch box that was one of those cards that talk when you open them. He explained how, for the unfortunate student, having everyone hear the nice things his/her mother had to say would be much like getting a Harry Potter “Howler”.

I see.

No lunch-box love for that little stinker today.

I’m waiting ‘til I can find one of those cards . . .

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jesse and Abe Continue to Speak

“Jesse,” I said as I walked into the living room, “I was just coming to turn that on for you. I didn’t think you knew how to turn shows on with the wii remote.”

“I didn’t. I just tried real hard. And then I cried. And then I did it.”

Huh. That’s interesting. In fact I think I often use that exact same method to figure things out.


“Mom,” Jesse tells me. “I don’t ever want to get hurt.”

“Me neither,” I agree.

“Yah,” Jesse continues. “’Cause that’s no fun, and I only want fun things to happen . . . like finding broken vacuums.”

Finding broken vacuums. Practically the definition of fun.


We are in the kitchen and I’m looking for something to make Jesse and Anders for lunch. I ask Jesse about a sandwich (though I know he really isn’t a fan). He responds with some happy reminiscing over things of long ago (last week):

“Mom, one time you made me a sandwich, and I took too long to eat it and accidentally let Tess eat it, and you said, ‘Did you eat your sandwich?’ and I didn’t say anything because I was afraid you’d be mad. That was a funny day.”

Yes. Hilarious.


Abe wanders into the kitchen. His siblings will be home from school soon; along with several other kids I am watching for a friend.

“Abe?” I ask. “Can you empty the dishwasher so I can do the dishes before I have to tend those kids?”

"Get to tend,” he replies in a high-pitched voice of false sweetness. “Service with a smile!”


Abe and Jesse are full of great things to say lately. Surely those other kids have said some things too? Eh. Probably. I’ll pay better attention and report back if any of them have any bursts of cleverness (and/or naughtiness).

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the last week:

Mike tried to question my . . . I don’t know . . . loyalty as a wife or some such today by grumpily claiming that I don’t appreciate his beard. But it’s simply not true. I think he looks great. It’s all cool and copper; and he looks rugged and handsome. It was only yesterday . . . after he brushed it all outward and upward and every which way – and right after I’d leaned in to kiss him only to receive a “whiskering” (if you don’t know what a whiskering is, count yourself lucky – it likely fits in the same category as noogies and wet-willies) that I threatened to shave it off while he slept.

And . . . dogs. The truth is, I’d probably be quite content to never have a dog in my life. And, when Tess went through her summer shedding I couldn’t fathom why anyone in the world would ever want one. But, there are other times . . . times when I feel quite certain that my children’s lives are somehow a thousand times more complete for their being a dog in them.

Now . . . some pictures from my cell phone from the last month:

(A few I spy things: me at the Shakespeare Festival with one of my best friends from high school, a windy shopping day, the worst black-eye any of my children have ever sustained, and a sad little game of lone-Twister.)

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