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On a morning walk

Out for a morning walk I passed a mom with her two preschool-aged kids and their respective push-toys. Two-ish year old girl with a pacifier and a wagon; three-ish year old boy with a shopping cart and what is clearly his favorite striped tiger toy. The mom was letting them lead the way, which meant they were going very s-l-o-w-l-y and even backtracking sometimes. Mom was strolling along next to them, pausing, taking a few steps back, helping a wheel get out of a rut and she had this contemplative calm about her that perfectly reflected the contented boredom that is time alone with small children.

I don’t miss those days but I miss those moments.

With my son it was a daily trip to a crab apple tree when he was about fifteen months old. We’d scuffle there (he was in his little moccasins, next best thing to being barefoot) and stop at every. little. thing. It was spring, the flowers were coming out and we would examine each bloom every day. Someone had Pooh Bear window clings in their front window and we’d stop and name them one by one. Finally at our destination, I’d sit on the curb while he picked up the little apples and threw them into the street.

He’d say, “App-o! App-o! Frow frow!” (Apple! Apple! Throw throw!) Every day the same thing until the apples became mush and it was summer and his shuffle turned into a run.

But before that our walk across the apartment complex courtyard and to the back of the first row of townhouses took at least an hour. We left mid-morning and got home in time for lunch but it felt like we were gone for years.

Oh god it was boring. But sweet. But boring. So boring that I would forget to breathe and then yawn so wide I felt like my jaw would dislocate.

Same thing with my daughter only by then our walks included her brother, who would take the dog around our tiny block in the time it took for his sister and me to toddle our way across three sidewalk squares stopping to poke sticks and drop pebbles into the sewer grate.

But at least we were outside. Rain or shine or snow, we tried to make it out for a change of scenery. After being cooped up indoors all those little blooms and blossoms and cracks in the sidewalk are little miracles to capture your kid’s attention so you can take something like a break. Sure, you have to make sure they don’t eat the stick or swallow a rock and you need to kneel down to kiss inevitable boo-boos when they stumble over something and yes, you have to acknowledge the apples, the car driving by, the crackling autumn leaf on the lawn or the dog on a walk with its owner. Sure, you have to do those things but at least you are moving (however slowly) and at least there is the scenery and dang, but your kids are adorable, which is what keeps you going above all else.

And then there is home to grilled cheese or PB&J cut into triangle quarters and a sticky sippy cup and peeled apples or halved grapes. It is a very small world, being home with small children.

I remember being the mom but I remember being the child, too, and that self-important sense of adventure contrasted so comfortingly with the familiarity of the bread your mother always buys with the grape jelly she knows you like.

There were good times, both sides and I miss the moments but I do not miss the days.

(This is a reprint from my now defunct old blog, this woman’s work. I wrote it in 2010.)

difficult child

13 Comments

  1. With us is was “rolling acorns down the hill” on our walks around campus. There was also riding trikes and later bikes.

    I do miss those moments.

    Reply
  2. I didn’t get those day to day moments with Jamie at that age but this summer was my little taste.

    Reply
  3. Yesssss. I am there with one child but no longer with the other since he’s in school- and I feel the sadness of those gone forever moments for the first time. I can even understand now why some older people make those comments, “oh, appreciate it now because it flies!” at just the wrong moments. I still doubt i’ll become one of those people, but man… I can kind of see it. Its helping me sink into the goodness of these days right now. What we have may sometimes be boring but the sweetness is very, very sustaining. Today I feel that anyway :)

    Reply
  4. I remember those walks with my little guys. Found out later that the neighbors thought I was the nanny! … at least I didn’t come across like the nagging stressed-out mom, I guess!

    Reply
  5. Well said. I’m still trying to enjoy those moments with my 2-year old, but am bored silly most of the time. At least my older two kids can entertain me as we walk.

    Reply
  6. Ah, you genius writer you!

    Reply
  7. I remember that with M in Delaware, walking basically three houses down (which was around the corner, since our house was the last house on the street), in an hour: balance beams, acorns, trees, pebbles, the neighbor’s statue of a dog. But I don’t remember it with E at all–I think she was trying to keep up with M from the very beginning. Or maybe I was at work…

    Reply
  8. When my oldest was an only child, we lived down the road from the arboretum and would go ‘porcupine hunting’ on Saturday mornings, followed by brunch at the local bagel shop. I actually do miss those days and would happily do them all over again (and better, so much better this time). Alas, she turns seventeen next month. I probably need a therapist, because I’m just plain bitter about it.

    Reply
  9. I love this. the days I spend at home with our 15 month old now are a lot like that. it’s good for me to remember it won’t always be this way.

    Reply
  10. I remember the very first blog post I ever (EVER) read (maybe 2000?) was something you wrote about staying home with little kids. You described Noah taking clothes out of a dresser, I think. You really do capture it…sweet, but boring. So sweet. But sooo boring sometimes.

    Reply
    • Oh god, Carla, I think of that time and my brain hurts from the tiredness of it!!!

      Reply
  11. This makes me feel all warm and weepy, as the mother and as the once-child. So sweet.

    Reply
  12. I’m in those sweet, boring days right now. You have indeed captured it perfectly. Sometimes I have to *allow* myself to admit the boredom, because I know
    how quickly it will goand how much I will want it back, and I don’t want to regret not making the most of it, and I do’nt want to not make the most of it…. but oh, it really IS boring sometimes.

    Reply

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  1. Day 5 – Crab Apple Picking « Heading Outside - [...] On a morning walk (thiswomanswork.com) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Earth Day TreeLAST CHANCE TO PRUNE APPLE TREE AND …

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