The girls are down - one in her room, the other in mine - for their nap. After a hectic morning that involved breakfast with a guest at our place and a birthday party at the Exploritorium, they’re ready to crash. Actually, I am ready to crash. And I try.
With every room in the house taken - My Guy is in his office, also our third bedroom, catching up on some work - I am left with the couch in our living room. I tuck myself under a pile of throw blankets and prepare to rest.
But Kayli, my ginger cat, immediately begins her afternoon ritual of aggressively meowing and purring, clawing for attention while the girls are in their respective spots, safely kept away from her. She’s the scaredy cat that never comes out while they’re up, so this is her chance.
Despite multiple attempts to push her away, she comes back, adamant for some love. Exhausted myself, I am not feeling particularly generous with my affection. I just want a nap. I keep thwarting her attempts, and just when I think I’m finally getting through to her, my other cat, Macavity, jumps on the couch to watch me. He’s a snuggler, and he’s eyeing a spot for himself.
I don’t nap well with things that move, so I try to shoo him off as well. By this time, my lethargy is giving way to irritation, and I’m starting to get worked up. When I finally have the cats under control, I settle back in and try to breathe evenly, hoping to erase my agitation from the last few minutes. It almost goes back to normal before I hear Little Miss calling for me from my bedroom, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
Exasperated, I attend to her: “What?” I say, with a little more annoyance in my voice than I intended. I find her in my bathroom.
“Can you wipe me please? I pooped.”
“What? You wipe yourself all the time. Why are you calling me now?” At this point, there’s no hiding my displeasure.
“I did, but the toilet paper got stuck to my butt.”
“Are you kidding me?” She isn’t. I start to look for hidden cameras from some stupid prank show because real life can’t be this ridiculous. Seriously.
After handling the situation and pleading with my four-year-old to just give me an hour of peace, I go back to my couch only to find a cat in my spot!
Then I hear Thumper fussing on the monitor. She has been doing that at naptime for the past couple of weeks before settling herself back down for the rest of her nap. Even when I know this ends in two minutes, it is still impossible for me to relax and fall asleep with a crying baby blaring from the monitor.
I give up. This nap is just not in the cards for me. It feels like everyone wants something from me, and I just don’t have it in me, at least not right then, to share. In that state of fatigue, I barely have enough of me for myself!
Then I choose to do something that seems counterintuitive for someone so desperately in need of a break: I dress myself and get out the door. The sun is shining, the temperature’s just above freezing, and the sidewalks are clear from ice or snow. It is the perfect time to run.
The moment the sun hit my face, I know I made the right decision. I feel my frustrations vanish with each step, and by mile two, it feels pretty fantastic.
This is my time. Finally.
I don’t have to share. I don’t have to make room. I am neither needed nor feel the need to be. I am free to follow my feet as I please. I am free to push myself as hard as I can. I listen only to my body, which, at this moment, is telling me to go, go, go. And I do, with pleasure and gratitude.
I feel myself recharging with each breath. This is where I find my strength and my peace. This is where I go to get back to center. The crumbled, unraveled parts of my exhausted self realign and form a whole again. Unlike napping, I can’t close my eyes to rest when I’m running, but I’m rejuvenated all the same. Different means, same end.
I hope to run for an hour and get back to my family, who’ll be waiting for me so we can go to the grocery store for our week’s shopping. When I see that I’m already at the halfway point between my house and the store, without breaking my stride, I call home and ask My Guy to meet me there. He doesn’t question me.
Over six miles later (the store’s only 4.5 miles from my house, but I run around the block a few times to get an hour’s worth), I’m at our destination a few minutes before they arrive. My cart is already filled with produce, meat, and the all-important chocolate milk for my post-run sustenance, as recommended by seasoned runners. I hear Thumper’s excited voice, “Mommy! Mommy!” and see her precariously dodging carts to run to me in her navy ruffled skirt. I scoop my little one into my arms and kiss her.
My Guy and Little Miss smile and wave from their cart. At my request, he purchases the half-gallon chocolate milk and hands it to me while we’re still shopping. I break the seal and chug it from the container, much to my girls’ surprise and absolute delight. (And the other shoppers’ horror, probably.)
“My turn! My turn!” they both yell, reaching for the jug in my hand, and I help them to it.
Once again, I am happy to share.
* * *
How do you find time for yourself in the middle of the day? What do you do to take a break? Where do you go to find your center?