This morning I headed outside to run and had taken about two steps when I remembered the forecast for the day: winds up to 50 mph. It was already howling out there so I came back in to re-group. Wanting to work on stretching my legs as I've recently identified shin splints as the culprit behind my calf pain, I decided to head to the mall to walk.
Now, this is something I used to do fairly regularly. I used to load up my stroller, stock my purse full of snacks, grab a few books and toys and pray that whatever toddler I was pushing around would let me get some exercise in. But this morning, all I had to grab was my phone, some earplugs, and my water bottle.
As I started lapping the mall, I noticed a slew of mothers there who were walking the path I walked not that long ago. There were the moms that had brought their kids to the play area bright and early in hopes of letting them get some energy out. There were the moms who pushed around newborns, bundled tightly in their strollers, with the hopes of working off some of that remaining baby weight. There were moms who were meeting other moms for coffee and the chance to have adult conversation. And as I walked, I remember being a mom at each of those stages. I remember bribing my kids with playtime at the Thomas track in Barnes & Noble. I remember stopping every few feet to pick up the sippy cup that had been thrown to the ground. Again. I remember feeling overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and desperate from some semblance of my pre-baby body back. I remember it all and it struck me that although it's only been a few years, it seems a lifetime ago.
My days now are full of completely different things. I can run my errands alone. I can meet up with girlfriends for a meal at someplace other than the McDonald's playland. I can listen to my own music in the car because I'm often in there alone. I can take the time to do something I enjoy without interruption. It's freeing, this new life I'm living. It's something I remember longing for. And I love it.
The reminders I saw this morning tugged at my heart a little more than I would have expected. And while I don't long to return to those days, I'm grateful for the reminder to enjoy each stage, each day, each question and request and argument because before I know it, I'll be longing for this stage too.