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Are you happy with what you're doing?

I had a lovely day today meeting a friend at Walden Pond. Our children splashed in the water, climbed the sandy slopes, and laughed together in the sun. We all took a long walk around the pond, which not only counted for homeschool science but covered our daily allotment of aerobic activity. We even discussed the bible (a little bit). A perfect Friday for two stay-at-home mothers. Who could imagine a day gone better?

exploring the pond

And yet.

There was this moment. We were standing next to the water watching our children, lovingly but firmly ensuring that they didn't drown. This young couple ran into the water. She was wearing an athletic bikini, sports bra top and boy-shorts bottom. Still plenty of room in the middle to show off her six-pack abs. They dove into the pond baywatch style. And me and my mom friend? We stopped talking and just stared. Not with jealousy exactly... but with something.

What would I give for a body like that? That young, that fit, that sucked in together all compactly? Where you could roll a marble from clavicle to kneecap without it getting stuck in a pillowy pocket of fat?

What would I give to run and dive into the water, and just start swimming? And just keep going? Forever if I wanted to?

The money. All the money. But it's not a money thing. I can't go back to a point in my life when all I had to care about was myself.

And as if reading my mind, my friend said, "I'm probably happier now. Being a mom."
"She probably doesn't even enjoy it that much," I agreed. "She probably thinks her butt looks big."

I love my kids, love love love my kids, but still most of the time I would rather be exercising. Pretty much every moment of the day, if you asked me what I'd like to be doing that would be the answer. Whenever I see someone running I think, "Now THAT'S the life." I don't know if I'm really not getting enough exercise, or if there's just no amount of exercise in the world that can counter balance the emotional output needed to parent three children under five.

I had years, YEARS, in high school and college and grad-school, when I could work out as much as I wanted. I could ask myself "What do I feel like doing today?" and then I say Run! or Swim! or Lift Weights! And then I just, like, DO THAT THING. And it didn't blow my mind at the time. I didn't marvel at THOUGHT becoming ACTION without passing through additional steps called PLANNING and CHILD CARE. I probably didn't even appreciate it that much. I probably got pissy when my workout wasn't THAT fantastic.

My body? It used to be like a muscled marble run. Did I stare at myself in the mirror saying, "You, Leah? You fucking OWN this town!" I most certainly did not. I complained that I couldn't get thinner.

I was stupid, maybe. Or maybe we're always stupid.

Because now I look out from my baby-bearing-body, and I think, "I want to swim across this lake!" But in 20 years I'll have all the time I want to pursue athletic goals, and I will probably miss wearing a baby on my chest. I'll probably give anything to cary a little baby around the lake. I'll probably even look back wistfully, wishing I could have one more cuddle with this precious little baby, the one I'm currently forgetting about to fantasize about middle-age triathlons.

he just started sucking his two fingers

There is something about life that is wildly unbalanced, that we have to do all the wonderful things in intense spurts such that we're unholy sick of them. We say cliches like "Youth is wasted on the young" and "Enjoy them now, they grow up so fast," and hearing such things is maddening not only because it's banal but also because it's TRUE!

I want to swim and not worry about other people drowning, and I want to run without the feeling that I'm running AWAY from someone, and I want to climb mountains and slide down them as an active participant creating my reality, not just as a sherpa facilitating someone else's.

Hey Mom, can you hold my sword as I slide down this mountain? k thanx

And I'm sure when I do that I'll look around and wonder where everybody else went.

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