These days, my runs take place along the Hudson River. Provided Chris isn’t traveling for work, it goes like this.
I wake up to an insistent little girl’s “Mommy, get UP!” and put some oatmeal on the stove (or lately, rice pudding!), and brush my teeth and put on my running clothes. I take Meeks out to do his business and buy myself a shot of espresso at the little Cuban coffee hut downstairs. Then I drink it while doing a puzzle or something on the floor with Catherine. Once sufficiently awake, I give Catherine her breakfast and let Chris know I’m leaving, and what they do while I’m gone, is their business (but I’m pretty sure it involves Catherine watching Mickey Mouse on Chris’s mobile while he sneaks in a few more Zs and showers in relative peace).
Those runs are just about the only time these days that is all mine. Chris works late often and Catherine doesn’t go to bed reliably at 8pm anymore (help, someone!?) and so by the time she’s in bed I’m right behind her. And while she naps, I’m busily taking care of things like applying to preschools (don’t get me started on the process and the prohibitive costs of preschool in our neighborhood) or lately, applying for jobs here and there. I’m having a very hard time finding time to write, let alone write when inspiration strikes – and it strikes daily – yes, I am almost bursting at the seams with inspiration but lack the help with childcare to do much about it.
But my runs. They’re mine and I cherish that time. It’s when I feel the most like myself.
Now I’ve got to cut in here and clarify something. Since I haven’t kept anyone up to date on my blog, and I realize that complaining the few times I pop in here can paint a false picture, you should know that life in New York is, in a word, beautiful. And motherhood, especially to a two-year old girl, is more than I deserve. Between the two, I’m so filled with gratitude on a daily basis. New York really is the most amazing city in the world. I believe that 100%. I never want to leave. And that my husband works so hard and has given me the opportunity to spend day after day exploring this city with my daughter in my arms or by my side – well, that’s something I don’t take lightly. I just struggle with the one missing piece that I feel many mothers do – how to find time to pursue other passions. It’s hard. I want to find the answer but I haven’t yet. I hope it will come.
Anyway, back to the runs. If I haven’t lost you. I step out the door of our apartment building in the early mornings and run three blocks West, past construction sites and coffee shops, dog walkers and high-heeled professionals, cobblestone streets and yes some stinking bags of trash until the shadowy streets and fire-escaped brick buildings part and the sun comes bursting forth, reflected on the rippled water (that sounds a little dramatic but it really does appear like that). I have two Pandora stations and I alternate between them. One is called Mos Def. The other is called Counting Crows. I feel decidedly different depending on which one I’m listening to. When I listen to Mos Def and like tunes, I am a bit of a badass, just so you know. But my Counting Crows station, which plays a wide variety of emotionally charged and poetic songs from the 90s, is the best. When I run to Counting Crows, I feel open. I’m sure my running posture says so. Eyes fixed on the Statue of Liberty, the breeze cold and sharp on my face, the water-smell of the river, and Adam Duritz and all his feelings, and I literally feel like I’m about to take off like one of the fat pigeons that won’t get out of my way until the last minute, except more graceful-like, much more graceful-like (of course).
I think while I run. Often about Catherine and whether or not I’m being a good mom and what she needs more of or less of and what I can do with her to delight her or what new thing I can teach her or, on a bad day, how I can distract her. I think about Chris, sometimes ruminating on some unjust thing he did, other times feeling very in love. I think about myself, how free I feel in that moment, how starting today I’m not eating any sugar and surely I can make it until bedtime, this time, and how I want to be a writer but I don’t know when.
I come home reluctantly, with flushed cheeks and bursting with optimism. The time is too short, like this nap during which time I’ve shirked my other duties in order to write this blog post.
“Mommy petty. Mommy petty bond hair. Wike pincess.” Touches my unwashed hair which is still in the shape of the sweaty ponytail I’ve just removed. Then suddenly, “I gotta poop!” and jumps up and runs to the bathroom where I hear her shamelessly do just that. This time is too short, too.
Well, I wrote something. And that feels good. And when Catherine wakes up (any minute!) we’re going to make m&m cookies (her choice!) and that will feel good too. And as for not eating any sugar? There’s always tomorrow.