Good for Something.

Good for Something

I almost sent the youngest kid in the house to school on Friday. His head felt a little warm, but his temperature only read 99.2. Both boys sleep very “hot,” so I thought he might be fine.

“How do you feel, Bubba?”
“I feel awful.”

I watched him get out of bed, all knees and elbows still and always. He looked a little paler than normal, but the kid is pale every single day. He went off to the bathroom and I took the dogs out. Once back in the kitchen, I looked at him as I got breakfast ready. Something didn’t feel right.

“Bubba, you’re gonna stay home from school today. I’ll call the doctor at eight o’clock. After you eat breakfast, you can go back to bed.”

He finished his breakfast, hit his bed, and was fast asleep before his older brother finished getting ready for school. I got him off to bed and then I did a thing. Originally, I had plans to leave as soon as the boys went to school for Super Early O’Clock Yoga. I don’t know why yoga is Super Early on Fridays, but it is. But since I now had a sick kid, I sent myself back to bed as well.

This year has been a huge adjustment for us as a family. There’s only one morning person among the four of us, and it’s not me. Nor is it my husband. It’s certainly not the youngest child either. Our older son has been a morning person since Day One, so he’s had no problem taking the new middle school schedule in stride.

The younger kid, however, is struggling. 6:52 on the bus means a 6:15 wake up at the latest. He’s exhausted. He goes to bed earlier than last year. He takes naps, sometimes willingly and sometimes unexpectedly in the car on a nine mile drive. His mood has taken a hit and really, he’s just straight up exhausted.

I’m dealing. I get a lot of work done very early in my day now. My 3:15 coffee has moved to 2:45 and is not a maybe but a requirement. Ten o’clock at night is now a struggle. But I’m doing my best. I don’t go back to bed, but this was a special occasion. Or maybe I knew I needed my rest. Either way, I slept hard until almost exactly eight o’clock.


There’s really no worse sound coming from inside a bathroom. Because it means vomit. In the sink. On the floor. The bath mat. His shorts. He started apologizing, and I told him to stop. I took his temp and it had spiked up over 101 in less than an hour. He got ibuprofen and in the shower while I cleaned up the mess.

He was asleep before the nurse called me back at 8:30.

“It’s strep.”
“It could be a virus that’s going around, too. We’ll have you come in.”

I get it. They don’t prescribe antibiotics all willy-nilly like they did back in our childhood days. Superbugs and what not. But I knew it was strep. He gets strep once a year. He starts with a low-grade fever. Complains of a scratchy throat. Then his fever spikes, he vomits, and bam! It’s strep.

We didn’t have our normal pediatrician as she was on hospital rotation. The doctor who saw us was nice enough, but dismissive too. “It could be a virus that’s going around, too.”

No one is shocked that it was strep, right?

The kid got medicine, enjoyed a lunch date with me, and spent the rest of the day sleeping and cuddling with me.

Good for Something - Lunch Date

We thought he was on the mend until last night, almost 36 hours after the initial puking episode. More puke. Everywhere. You guys. I don’t understand. I also don’t know the last time I washed the wall behind the toilet, but it’s clean now. Thanks, kid.

He’s feeling better today. We hope.

I’m just glad I didn’t send him to school on Friday. He really didn’t have any fever, so to speak, but my mommy instinct told me that something wasn’t quite right. The fact that I then listened to that instinct and was, shockingly, right, felt good. I don’t mean that I’m glad my kid had strep, because let’s face it, those germs are pervasive and after getting THISCLOSE to random crevices in the toilet last night, my chances aren’t really great.

I mean that I’m glad I still have some ability to gauge parenting situations appropriately at all. Because ain’t not much of that happening round these parts lately. I’ve been doubting absolutely everything about my motherhing and motherhood. Like, who thought I could do this?

At the very least I can spot strep. I’m good for something. And cuddling.

Good for Something - Cuddling

And cleaning puke.

Take a Walk

Take a Walk

They cut down three trees in the church yard. All three trees were visibly dead and I said, just last week and out loud, “I wonder when they’ll cut those trees down.”

Answer: Today.

But the trees, however dead, were standing during my morning walk, and this evening, they were gone. Stumps remain. Here. Gone.

The tree-hugger in me feels oh-so-sad. It’s no secret how deeply I love trees, mine or otherwise. I form attachments to their existence; I miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe trees are just easier than people, easier than relationships.

I walk twice a day now, save for the three mornings per week when I run. On those days, I only walk once and in the evening. I mostly walk with my husband in the mornings. Prior to our oldest son’s recent toe injury and first-ever stitches experience in this four person family unit, sometimes the boys would join us in the evening. They’re on a two week reprieve from attending family walks and I don’t think they mind. Or they do mind, but in the way that they are really happy about not having to do it.

But sometimes I walk alone. On the days my husband is at work, I walk both morning and evening alone. Today I walked with him in the morning, but walked the evening route alone as he went off on a fishing trip with some of his friends. I enjoy our walks together as we talk and laugh and spot the deer and turkey together.

But those alone walks hold a special place in my heart right now.

Walking alone is different than running alone. When I’m running alone, my mind goes into auto-pilot. My mind focuses solely on the physical aspect of running. Getting to the next half mile. Getting to the next shady spot. The next tree. The spot on the hill where I allow myself exactly one minute to walk. Twenty steps on toes, twenty steps mid-strike, and repeat. I count to 20 a lot while running.

Running is good for my anxious brain in that I cannot focus on more than the physical aspect. There’s no extra capacity for anything outside of the physicality of the moment. It’s good to go there, to get outside of the often intense emotional brain space in which I daily live.

Walking alone is much different.

While sometimes my brain tries to sneak away with itself, there’s an aspect of my daily walk that keeps me quite grounded: Repetition. When my husband and I walk together, sometimes we walk in a different place or a different route. Alone, I stick to one I know very well only changing it up by occasionally lengthening the distance on non-run days. This repetition is good in that my when my brain starts to run away with itself, I notice something different.

Was that tree leaning in the woods like that yesterday? Maybe the storm last night knocked it over. Or did I miss that leaning tree completely for the past two months of walking, four years of running, and five and a half years of occasional walks in this direction since we moved here? If it’s that last point, how self-absorbed have I been until right in this moment?

Oh look, there’s that yellow finch. Oh, there’s another yellow finch. Oh my! There are three yellow finches sitting in a row! Wait. Are they yellow finches? Why and how do I know what yellow finches look like? he
I see someone else has deposited their litter on the way down the hill. Natty Ice; a classic.

A slug!

Take a Walk

A wooly worm!

Talk a Walk

Leaves falling, more and more, every single day.

Spiderwebs, fresh every morning.

Some mornings the creek is higher. Some afternoons the creek is lower.

Sometimes the deer are in the lower field. If we procrastinate our morning walk until the sun is above the tree line, all wildlife is back at their homes. The turkey often hear us and start running before we see them, in one of two spots in the lower field.

The deer than hang out in the left lower field are older than the ones in the right lower field and run as soon as they see us; they know to be scared. The spotted deer in the upper field or the lower right field don’t know enough to be scared just yet. They’ll learn.

The scents take my brain away, too. When the farmers cut the hay, I am instantly transported to my childhood and the smell of the back 40 being cut for hay. It’s such a sweet, heady scent. There are other scents too: mud, mud after rain, rain, decaying leaves, occasional skunk, the unfortunate smell of death, cows, fall on the horizon.

I notice the way the light is different. The blue of the sky has returned from the bright hot white of summer. Colors keep popping out on branches; right now the poison ivy that winds its way up trunks of trees is the brightest—a red so beautiful you’d pluck some leaves if you didn’t know what it was. Every single day it is changing.

And so I walk, every single day. I take my 30-40 minutes in the morning and again in the evening and walk. It doesn’t really matter if someone is with me or if I’m alone, except in this way: I’ve learned so much more about grounding techniques for anxiety over the past two months than in umpteen years of therapy.

And so, I noticed the missing trees today. They were the very visible difference.

Tomorrow, something else will be different. More color on trees. A new spiderweb. Hopefully not a skunk like last week. Everything is always changing. Including me, relationships, trees, turkey. Everything.