Half a Month

Swimming Is Exhausting

Swimming Is Exhausting

I’ve spent half a month home with the boys. We’ve done a lot of things. It’s felt really great in a lot of ways.


It’s also felt challenging on a number of levels.

Truth: I’ve never simply stayed home with my sons. When I left the newsroom in 2006, I already had a contract lined up to work from home. In those nine years, I’ve worked steadily through pregnancy and bed rest, through breastfeeding and potty training, through vacations and baseball games, through preschool and the transition into elementary school.

Over the years, I found my groove. I taught myself how to shut the laptop at the end of my work day. I learned how to flex my time, how to work after the boys went to bed when things needed finished by morning. I also learned how to push myself just a bit too hard and end up with too much on my plate.

It makes sense then why I’ve felt challenges since leaving my job. I have a lot of questions about it, too.

What do I do with this free time? Why are we still late for baseball practices? Why aren’t we free on the non-rainy days so we can use our pool pass? Why are we still so busy? Why do I still feel overwhelmed by the boys? But where does clutter come from? Why are all the library books late? Do I really have to play Monopoly with them? Why am I so horrible at board games? When did they get to be better than me at video games? Why do their socks fit my feet? OMG, how much can they really eat? Why did we have to buy a house that allowed them each to have their own rooms if they only and always want to sleep in each others’ room? Can I serve spaghetti three nights in a row? Will they notice? Would they like that better? Why don’t they knock? Why are they so loud?* Why do they follow me? Why is it even worse when it’s silent and I can’t find them? And on and on.

One question leaves me questioning myself the most: Why do I still feel overwhelmed by the boys?


For nine years, I’ve assumed my frustration, lack of patience, and general feeling of overwhelm when it came to mothering these two boys came from my hectic schedule as a working mother. I knew that stay-at-home moms also felt these things, but I truly thought my own issues stemmed from how much I attempted to handle at once regarding the non-existent work-life balance.

It turns out that parenting is just this way.

Before the end of my last day of work which coincided with the boys’ first day of summer break, I found myself thinking, “And I’m taking a month off with you crazy kids because why?” I’ve been frustrated at various times since then, though I can see trends in where the frustration begins. The boys’ arguing, the rush to get somewhere combined with the summer slowness we are all craving, overtired whining, my anxiety, and a few other things all make me feel like I’m not doing this well. Like I’m not doing my month home with the boys “right.”

I’m a funny creature.

There is no “right” to this month off—though I would like to report I am mostly caught up with laundry on a daily basis. No, we haven’t made it to the pool as much as I originally hoped, but we’ve gone and enjoyed our time together, made friends, and had fun. I haven’t made fancy desserts or breakfasts, but I seem to manage feeding us on the regular. I haven’t made it to see all of my friends—and I hate that—but the boys have had a number of great adventures with their friends. I read an entire book, but we haven’t made it back to the library yet and everything is overdue. Again. Always. Plans I hoped for may have fallen through, but we’ve replaced those with other great plans. One kid is sick, the other will likely get sick, and I can imagine the two adults in this house ending up with fevers on our beach vacation.

But still.

Despite any imagined self-caused shortcomings so far this month, it’s been a great time. I’ve never had this much time with my boys to simply be. We sit on the porch at bedtime, eating Popsicles and watching the fireflies come out. We do what we want, when we want, because we can. While I try not to speak for my sons, I genuinely feel they’re enjoying this extra time with me.

While I know it won’t last forever, I know I will treasure this month through eternity—challenges and all.



2015 Columbus Marathon Training: Day One!

Training for the Columbus Marathon: Race Week!

Training for the Columbus Marathon, 2015

I thought to myself last week, “Oh, I should probably do the math and figure out when I need to start training for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon.” It turns out that I needed to start training this week, as in today, in order to run an 18-week training plan. Good thing I looked last week!

Of course, it’s mid-June which means running in mid-Ohio feels like swimming. The temperatures hit the upper-80s to lower-90s most days now while the humidity likes to do crazy things like hang out around 80%. I sweat just walking out in the morning to let the chickens out of the coop. We all know how easily I overheat while running, so my options are: turn into an early runner, run after dark, or run on a treadmill.

Younger me might have opted for the late night run, but by the time I get through all the “stuff” of parenting and normal daily life, I really just want to sit on the porch and watch Gilmore Girls. And while I turned to the treadmill a number of times during the Winter of Doom, I still loathe the treadmill. I overheat almost as easily as running in direct sunlight.

So early running it is. Ugh.

I’m not great at early mornings either. I like sleep. I like our bed. I like the way morning light filters in through the teal curtains. I like the cool air from the ceiling fan. But I also like not passing out from heat stroke and not hating absolutely every step of a run. Sometimes you need to compromise.

Last night, following Angela’s recent advice on how to become a morning runner, I turned off the TV at 10:00 even though it was the season five finale of Gilmore Girls and I was like, “OMG! WHAT DID LORELAI JUST ASK!?” I quickly went through my evening routine and hopped in bed by 10:15. Callie looked confused, but decided she likes sleep too. I set my alarm for 6:30 and easily fell asleep after such a busy weekend.


However, I kept waking up due to the storms making their way through the area. Then I woke up at 5-something for no good reason; nothing good happens at 5:00 AM. When the alarm went off, I heeded Angela’s advice again and did not press snooze. But I accidentally fell back asleep. Thankfully only for about 15 minutes!

I got up, got dressed in clothes I laid out the night before, put in my contacts, and went to drink a cold glass of water and wait for my husband to get home from work. This is where “early” running gets tricky in our family. Since my husband works 24-on, 48-off, I must wait for him to return home before I set off on a run. Today I got out the door around 7:30. The awake time before hand really helped shake off the sleepies, so I’m going to stick with that plan for days on which I’m waiting for him to return home. Tomorrow presents a different challenge as he traded days with another firefighter. In order to run, I will need to wake up very early and hit the road at o’dark o’clock. We’ll see how that goes.

Today felt nice though. I chose to run my first training run at my goal pace for the Columbus Full Marathon: between 10:30-11:00. It feels tricky to slow down a bit, but I know I settle into this pace well and it still gives me a PR on race day. So, I went out today and ran my familiar neighborhood route, hills and all, and ended with an average pace of 10:42. I’ll take it.

The temperature this morning was 76 with a Real Feel of 82 and 88% humidity. Needless to say, I was a hot, sweaty mess at the end of my run.

So Gross

I decided to go back to Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 training plan. This isn’t my first time training for a full marathon (or running), but I need to play on the cautious side. My goal, other than that pace and to PR, is not to burn out during training. Which, ha, because we all do. But after looking over a number of different plans, I decided stepping it back felt like the safest, wisest choice for this race. I will note, however, I have not printed and laminated this plan just yet.

I have two more three milers this week, followed by a 6 miler. I chose to start on Monday even though Higdon’s plan calls for it as a rest day. I’m running Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday this week as Saturday is a travel day and I’ll want to rest on Sunday before starting week two on Monday again as the following Saturday is also a travel day. After that, I should settle into a normal schedule—or as normal as fire life gets.

As usual, I’m feeling excited and optimistic at the start of training. Let’s do this! 2015 Columbus Marathon!

On Saying Goodbye. Again.

John M Swearingen and Charlette M Swearingen, Married June 13, 1956

John M Swearingen and Charlette M Swearingen, Married June 13, 1956
John M Swearingen, 1936-2010, and Charlette M Swearingen, 1936-2014,
Married June 13, 1956

Yesterday my family gathered at the cemetery near The Farm. While it hid behind the clouds all morning, the sun made its way out making the already hot and humid air even heavier. My maternal great-grandmother pushed her walker across the grassy graves to sit under a sun-blocking tent with the other family and select friends who needed to sit down during the interment.

There before us all sat the vault containing the urns of my Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s ashes. The vault then rested in front of a new gravestone made to match that of my Grandfather’s mother, older brother, and father who rest to the left. When Grandma passed last June, the three sons picked an urn vault in which both urns fit. My Grandparents desired to rest in peace together, buried next to one another. And so, on what would have been their 59th wedding anniversary, we followed through on that promise.

No pastor headed the service. My own Dad, the eldest brother, started everything off with the infamous Swearingen Emotions, and the rest of the service flowed from brother to brother to the three daughters-in-law. Pieced together from The Book of Common Prayer, my parents’ pastor, and input from the family, the service seemed a fitting farewell to two people who meant so much to me—who still mean so much to me, even in their absence.

My husband and I walked forward with the boys to each pick a flower to place upon the urn vault. Lavender and pink carnations, peach roses and red roses, and maybe other flowers sat waiting for us to choose. I went with a red rose. I can’t quite recall what the three others in my four-person family unit chose, because the tears clouded my vision. As we walked back, my husband handed me a clean tissue, taking the sopping wet one from my hand. He did this two more times during the short service; he took such good care of me.

People then took time to say a word or twenty about my beloved Grandparents. I listened to their stories; some I’d heard before, some felt new in the moment. I listened and clutched my boys to my sides and let the tears slip down my hot cheeks. My grand plan, knowing of this day for an entire year, was to write something beautiful to read at the service. But I couldn’t. I can’t find the words—still—to explain what my Papau and my Gram meant to me. I’ve tried, over and over, and it all comes up short. I still feel a little lost without them. I still try to call Grandma to ask her questions about curtains or dresses. No one has hugged me like my Grandpa used to hug me, the way he used to wrap both arms around me and lift me up off the ground while kissing the top of my head.


And so when my Dad made eye contact with me after nearly everyone else spoke, I shook my head silently. The only grandchild who didn’t speak, I feel like I let my Dad down. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say; I will forever and always have too much to say about my paternal Grandparents, their love, and the way they helped shaped not just my childhood but my life.

After the service ended, I headed back to the car while my husband gathered two roses—one peach and one red—for me to have as a keepsake. I helped the boys into the car, the air conditioning cooling us off a bit.

While buckling himself, LittleBrother said, “Mommy, you’re the only one who knew I was crying. Wait. Did you know I was crying?”

“Yes. Yes, I did, Booey,” I replied as another tear slipped down my cheek.

As we followed the line of cars out of the cemetery, I acknowledged that this goodbye isn’t the last goodbye. We said goodbyes at each of their funerals and again yesterday. You could say that now they are finally at rest, that they goodbyes are over. But they’re not. My Grandmother comes alive every time I make her macaroni and cheese and my youngest son declares it the best in all the land. My Grandfather comes alive when I watch my sons ride on the tractor with their Papau, my Dad. And just as quickly, they’re gone again as the moment passes. Little moments like this happen so often, it feels like I’m saying goodbye over and over again.

I’ll keep saying goodbye for years and years to come. I will carry them with me forever.