He Kept Trying To Help

He kept trying to help, but no matter what he did, it wasn’t helping. On the days he made dinner, he left the counter dirty and loads of pots and pans in the sink.  On the days he completed projects around the house, he was busy for so long she felt abandoned.  On the days he stayed nearby she felt smothered.  When he said to wake him up whenever she wanted him to feed the baby, she knew she’d be awake anyway, listening to him feed the baby, so what was the point?  When he asked if he could pick anything up at the store on his way home, she couldn’t think of anything she needed.   He kept trying to help, but she didn’t feel like he was much help at all.

He tried a new tactic.  “Tell me what you need”, he said.  She had to think. What DID she need?

As ridiculous as it seems, she didn’t really know what she needed.  All she knew was that she needed to feel better.

She worked to organize her thoughts so she could come up with a response.  Even though it was difficult for her to do, she made attempts to start telling him when she needed something.  She noticed that he became infinitely more helpful.

One day, she pulled in the driveway, with the kids loaded in the back seat. He greeted her at the car and looked at her face, at her drawn mouth, at her tired eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing”.

But her quivering lips betrayed her.

“Something must be wrong”.

She wanted to tell him what was wrong, but was coming up blank when she tried to think of what exactly it was that was so bad.  She had no legitimate complaints.  She knew she couldn’t say “nothing” again, so she said the first thing that popped into her head.

 “I don’t have time to get anything done”.

“What needs to get done?”

“All I’ve done today is change diapers and feed the kids and the kitchen is a mess”.  

She realized that she didn’t answer his question, but couldn’t think of what to say about what it might be she wanted to get done that she wasn’t able to do.  She hastily added the only thing she could think of that resembled a reasonable answer to his question, “And I didn’t have time to go for a jog”.  

Ah ha.  Something he could work with.  Something he could help with.

“You’re the only one who thinks you don’t have enough time to do anything.  Go work out”. With that, he grabbed the kids and the diaper bag and when she opened her mouth to protest that there wasn’t time, he looked at her and repeated firmly, “Go workout.  Go”.

Instead of arguing, as she was often quick to do, she took him up on his offer to watch the kids while she went for a short run.   As she was jogging, she realized that he helped her in a way she didn’t always acknowledge, or even consciously remember, that she needed help with.

She needed a lot of help feeling better.  She always had, and she always would.

Somehow she kept forgetting that what she needed to do was to make sure she wasn’t falling apart.  She kept forgetting that even though she sometimes felt on top of the world, she would never be capable of holding on to that feeling for very long.  She kept forgetting that her natural inclination was to sink into a never-ending pit of depression and that the only way out was to keep doing what worked to pull her from the darkness, instead of pretending she was cured and stopping her needed therapies.

Running was one of the things that helped her.  Without the movement, without the chemical release, she sometimes wouldn’t feel good, or okay, or even so-so. Without it, she was capable of feeling horrible, or melancholic, or like maybe it would be better if she wasn’t here at all.  She couldn’t be a good wife, or more importantly, a good mama, without feeling better.  

THAT was really the most important thing she needed to get done. The kitchen could wait. Feeling better could not.

She knew she wouldn’t magically feel better just because she wanted to.  She knew she couldn’t feel better solely on her own. Thank goodness he kept trying to help.

 

 

 

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Parenting: Reasons To Panic #1 – Jogging With Baby

So, I’m trying to get back into shape.  Pre-baby shape.  Which I’m quite sure is a fairy tale notion.  My core is a disaster.  My pelvis is broken.  (Full disclosure: It’s really NOT.  It’s just offset enough to FEEL like it’s broken and there’s nothing that can be done except steroid injections, which I haven’t yet tried, but am quite sure I will have to if the pain gets any worse.  Inhale. Exhale.  Complaining completed.

Bah.

But, I figure I should do what I can before Baby Number 2 starts cooking, if we are to be so lucky, because if things are this bad NOW, I can only imagine how I might feel after 9 additional months of swelling and enlarging and hormoning.

So, I decided to get off my ass and go jogging.  In the heat of May.  Something I don’t typically do because I overheat in anything above 55 degrees.  My running season is October to April.  My aerobic activity of choice is running outside, whilst catching snowflakes in my eyelashes.  Once it hits 50 degrees, I’m stripped down to a t-shirt by mile 4.  But, I figured I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, I should be able to go for a short, 6 mile trot.

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...

Of course, I had the baby with me.  “No problem, I have a stroller/jogger!  I’ll just bring her!” I thought this was a grand idea until I started to panic about the following:

The baby is going to overheat!  I was ROASTING.  Granted, I always overheat when I run, but mid-way through I started to panic that Baby Grouch would combust.  How much do babies sweat?  How much of a breeze was she getting?  How hot IS IT out here?  How long does baby sunscreen last?  When you run you usually feel about 20 degrees hotter, right?!  It’s not really as hot as I FEEL, right?!!!  I started sprinkling her with ice water out of her sippy cup.

The baby is going to get Malaria!  There were approximately 83 billion mosquitos out.  I don’t want my child to get infected with Malaria or West Nile or Yellow Fever.   I had to walk a few times and dump water on my head and gasp for breath, and each time I panicked because the mosquitoes were swarming my child.  I flailed my arms and batted away.  An ungraceful, maternal, totemic dance.

The baby is going to get fussy!   I started to panic about mile 2.5.  How on Earth did I think a LOOP made sense?  There was no shortcut home.  I’m dying of heat exhaustion and this run is going to take me for-ev-er!  Of course at this point, Baby Grouch was sleeping.  But, still.  What is she woke up screaming?  Around mile 4.5 she DID start throwing her hat/toy/burp cloth out the edge of the stroller.  I ran over her doll once.  At one point I was jogging while holding all three items in my hands.  NO TIME TO STOP.

The baby is going to get sunburned!  Her arms are showing! She keeps pulling off her hat – her head is showing!  The canopy isn’t QUITE long enough – her face might get burnt!  The canopy is too long – I can’t see the baby!  The baby needs to be covered with a blanket to protect her from the Sun! The baby is overheating, I need to take the blanket off! I figure all the bending over and rearranging, though panic-driven, was probably good core work.

The Baby Is Going to Get Hungry/Thirsty!  I was worried about overheating so I offered Baby Grouch the sippy cup with water once every mile or so.  This may or may not have been a good idea, seeing as she puked up water and strained squash out her nose about 14 minutes after we got home.  My eyes burned as sweat poured into them while giving her a bath, and were still doing so while I cleaned the carpet.

OMG, Running is SO HARD.  I hadn’t ran in 3 weeks, and I could feel it.  My legs felt great, but my head felt fuzzy and lightheaded and horrible.  My face was abraisive to the touch, gritty with salt.  I tried to just focus on my legs. I had thoughts like, “Once you stop running, you have to start completely over again” and, “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I’m so not cut out for running”. And, “You can’t stop running because you have the BABY”.  Also, I got a blister on my hand, which was a first for me, as far as running injuries go.

I hope I don’t see anyone I know! The temperature outside was ovenlike.  I had to take off my shirt, despite the jiggly pouch.  And the early 90’s tribal tattoos on my back.  I had to roll my capris into bootie shorts, despite the expansive thighs.  You know how you look at someone and McJudgingly think, “Why are they wearing THAT?” This was exactly what people were thinking of ME as I was undulating down the sidewalk, pushing the stroller.  I crossed my fingers and hoped I didn’t see any students or parents I knew, but I took the risk because if I didn’t cool my chubby body off enough to keep moving, my child my overheat and get Dangue Fever and starve to death.  

Whew.

Ever had a jaunt with baby that scared you to pieces?