As I pulled on my tennis shoes, I had lovely thoughts like, “I feel great today. The weather is perfect for a nice 3-mile run.” Or “I’m going to glide like a gazelle across the pavement.”
I gave my husband and the boys a quick wave, put on the headphones, and left. I started a fast walk as I fiddled with my iPhone: music on Pandora; tracking the workout with MapMyRun. And I ran.
As I began, my steps fell in sync with the music. “I could run forever,” I thought.
.25 mile later, my breathing started to get ragged. “Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. I can do this.”
Breathing under control, I turned onto a gravel road and faced nothing but fields and a farmhouse. My legs became heavy, tired. I focused on my arms, imagining they were parts of a machine, pumping and pulling me forward.
The farmhouse was on my right, a small house with several out-buildings. “Probably for storing equipment,” I thought. But I read a book recently about a family of country boys that were buying women and killing them, storing them in buildings just like those. I moved to the other side of the road.
Halfway up a small hill, my calves were on fire. “What happens if they burn right off my body?”
Then I heard, “Distance. One. Mile. Time. Ten. Minutes. And. Forty-Three. Seconds.”
“It’s only been a mile?” I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs didn’t seem willing. “I’ll just do 2.5 miles instead of three,”I thought. And then, “No. Three miles this time. I’m doin’ it.”
Finally, I reached the turn-around point. I paused the app, stretching my calves and catching my breath. A truck rolled slowly over the top of the hill. “Oh great, they’re going to stop and ask if I need help. I probably look like I’m dying.” The truck passed without pause. “Well I guess they’ve never heard of small town kindness. What if I were dying?”
I tapped the Resume button and started running again. “Halfway done. I can do this.”
My thoughts wandered until I heard, “Distance. Two. Miles. Time. Twenty-one. Minutes. And. Fifty-eight. Seconds.”
My calves started to burn again. I felt the back of my ankles tightening. “I can’t do this anymore,” I thought.
The next song started playing: “Die Young” by Ke$ha. I thought about my son. Cystic Fibrosis. Stories from adults with CF, swearing that running is what keeps them healthy. Ke$ha sang, “We’re gonna die young.” I fought back the tears. Pounded fear into the pavement. With each stride I thought, “Not if I can help it.”
When I crossed our driveway, I heard, “Distance. Three. Miles.” I shut it off.
I was finished. I did it. I will do it again. For myself. For my son.
Note: I’m knocking on wood as I write today’s post!
In the five years of my son’s life, he has had very few injuries. Like most kids, he’s suffered a scraped knee or fifty and
a few a lot of bruises, but he’s never really been hurt badly. When he falls down, he usually jumps up and goes right on doing what he was doing, as if it never happened. If I notice a small bruise or scrap and ask where it came from, he will shrug his shoulders and respond with an “I dunno” and a who-cares look on his face.
If he does cry from getting hurt, then I know it’s probably pretty painful to him. Yesterday, it was perfect weather for running around outside like a maniac while playing football. As I sat on the porch with his baby brother, my son ran back and forth across the yard, tossing the football high into the air among the tree branches, and catching it as it fell back down to earth. He would run and yell and pretend to get tackled and collapse into a dramatic heap on the ground. He was a quarterback, a wide receiver, a running back, a defensive linesman, a kicker, and a referee all at once. During a couple of crucial plays, he went down and came up with an “Owww!” and a sad howling sound. Once, he tackled himself and slammed an elbow into a fallen walnut. Ouch. Hitting your funny bone really isn’t funny. Another time, he lost sight of the footbal among the tree branches, and it made contact with his eye on the way back down. Ouch. Both times, Mommy the medic came onto the field and gently empathized with his pain, and rubbed the area. I then kissed his elbow or his eye. And it amazed me that with each time, the howling and yowling stopped immediately following my kiss to the injury.
He rubbed his eye, already a splotchy red from its contact with the football, “Thanks, Mommy,” he said. “It feels better now.”
He got up and went on with the next play (2nd & 12, if you were wondering).
What is it about a mom or dad’s kiss that can make the pain go away? Or sometimes it’s just a hug. Or a kind word. When I was sick as a little girl, I loved the way my mom would stroke my hair. No matter how bad I felt, it always took a little bit of the hurt away. And still as an adult, when I am sick, I lay curled up in bed and stroke my own hair if I’m alone, or I ask my husband or son to stroke it for me if they are with me.
I found an article on NBC News about a research study that was done that concluded that all those little moments of nurturing from a parent really do have a positive effect on a child’s health. The study is a couple of years old, dating May 18, 2010, but after my son’s response yesterday, I wanted to share it with you. The study suggested that when a parent soothes his or her child, they help to reduce stress, which calms hormones that contribute to inflammation:
“Subjects who had a warm bond with mom expressed fewer genetic markers of inflammation, which over time can take a toll on the body.” -NBC News
So kiss your child’s boo-boos. It really does make it all better.