We had a plumber stop by recently to fix an outdoor faucet (assuming it ever gets warm enough plant the garden) and he made an offhand comment about “back when we were kids.” I looked around to see who else he was lumping into this inclusive pronoun. Clearly this man was at least 15 years older than me. Or, so I thought.
I’m already very comfortable falling asleep in front of the television by nine o’clock. I regularly need to do ear hair maintenance. It’s been a solid decade since I could even think about sitting cross-legged. You all know I play more dominoes than actually going out to bars. I’m going to chalk up not being able to tell whether a person is 35 or 55 as another sign of aging.
Turns out if you can’t spot the middle aged person in the room….
If you live up here long enough you end up with a story or a connection to the marathon. A little over ten years ago, we were nearing Michelle’s due date and had one last wellness appointment with the doctor. As we were checking out, a nurse handed me a photocopied sheet of paper with hieroglyphics on it. It might have generously been called a map. It was mostly boxes, arrows and a few squiggles.
“They close the roads.”
“If you need to get to hospital during the marathon you’ll have to use the fire road.”
Thankfully, Cecilia missed the marathon by a couple days. Her birth was stressful enough without adding an off-road adventure. The map wasn’t needed but every time marathon monday approaches I think of all the parents nervously sweating out the start time for reasons that have nothing to do with running.
Mid-March in New England means a couple things to me. First, I start arguing with the kids that temperatures in the mid-40’s still means you need to wear something with long sleeves. Second, I need to consider chiseling out some furrows for planting the first peas. Finally, it marks the unofficial start of the spring road racing season. I’ve never met a competition I didn’t like!
5 reasons I still like running 5k’s:
Budget They’re not cheap, but they are cheaper than most other races and you typically get the same snacks for running a lot less.
Competing Many longer events are about enduring your way to the finish. 5k’s are about racing.
Fitness The 5k requires strength, speed, power, and endurance. You can effectively train for a 5k with a variety of workouts not just long runs. It will not only help you run better but also improve your overall health.
No Chafing The risk of nipple bleeding is very low.
Beer & Naps It’s just long enough and takes just enough effort that it totally justifies at least one beer and one short nap when you are done.
We totally took advantage of the beer and nap clause yesterday.
It’s becoming clear as we work our way through fourth grade that while in many ways Cecilia is very similar to me (mostly reserved, easily embarrassed, great hair), she definitely does not learn like me.
This realization, simple as it may seem, has led to more peaceful parenting when she gets home after school. It’s up to me to adapt and let her know that one, her way is legit and acceptable and two, that no matter what, I’m on team Ce and will be there to help her even if it means new math, taking the long way around, or listening to endless facts about Canada.
My #1 job is not to force a certain way or take delight only in accomplishments but to value and love her for the nutty young woman she is becoming, no strings attached.
Neither of us is perfect, but starting from a place of compassion and support and not right versus wrong will hopefully have an impact on us long past fourth grade.
I have a race later today. 10 miles. In February. In New England. Can’t wait.
One the biggest challenges I had with my Addison’s diagnosis and then the knee arthritis was being forced to slow down, and then, stop for a bit. I know many people have a tough time, for various reasons, calling them themselves an athlete. I had a really hard time not seeing myself as an athlete. For as long as I can remember sports and fitness were a daily part of my life. It was a huge piece of how I viewed myself, viewed the world, and approached my place in it. It wasn’t the only way, of course, but it was a big part to suddenly be missing.
I’m trying to teach the girls, or at least show, them that confidence is born out of doing hard things. So a 10-miler on a brisk February morning should be a good example. Their thing might not be sports, but the principles still apply. Rise to meet a challenge, don’t bring a misery mindset. I think we often mistake needing courage, confidence or self-esteem in order to try hard things. This feels backwards to me. We need to embrace a challenge and seek out difficult tasks to explore our own psychology and how we respond. Would I have the courage to take on fourth grade math, glitter slime, or the self-esteem for kitchen karaoke without it? I’m not sure I want to find out.
When the girls get sick, I get stressed. I will lie in bed and hear one of the girls coughing down the hall and I wonder why we can’t just have a simple, quiet night. Why do I always have to end the day worrying about fevers, coughs, math facts, reading comprehension, screen time, or how to navigate some new, twisted social scenario I never pondered as a kid.
The fact is that we have a lot of quiet nights. They just pile up and slip by unnoticed while Dash warms my feet and I fall asleep reading a book. This past week was a whole string of perfectly banal and quiet days. Math facts were tossed off. Vocab tests were aced. The brassy sound of Hot Cross Buns filled the air. The worst thing that happened was Ally being convinced, despite ample contrary evidence, that the number three really should be written backwards.
Too often I can get lost in the darker corners of the parenting maze. This week I’m celebrating mediocrity. Without the quiet, ordinary weeks, you can’t have the extraordinary ones.
When the kids are babies you play the game with their features: Whose nose is that? That is definitely your elbow.
When they get a little older, you start to do it more with personality. Her piano tantrums must come from your side of the gene pool! Her dance moves definitely favor the Donohues.
One trait we have little doubt over is Cecilia’s ability to be alone. That definitely comes from me and is something that often confounds my more socially-adept wife. She sometimes worries about it. I just remember many happy hours playing computer games or reading alone in the basement.
I don’t think Cecilia’s lonely. Being alone and lonely are not the same. She is quite happy to play with other kids. She has friends. She just doesn’t mind being alone. I can relate. Society can often make the act of being alone feel like a stigma or a negative. As if it’s imposed rather than a choice.
So much of parenting today revolves around being involved all the time that kids are rarely left without an organized activity, never mind actually being left by themselves. I think learning to be alone was a critical skill for me to acquire as a kid. It allowed me to listen to and trust my own instincts without outside influence.
She may still be working on her math facts and trombone scales, but I think Cecilia is well on her way to confidently knowing herself.