I was in the kitchen, huddled around a hot cup of coffee and savoring the last micro-seconds of alone time this morning when I heard a familiar pitter-patter.
"Mama still sweaty?" Miles asked as he slammed the kitchen door into the pantry, approaching me with hesitation.
"No, Mama's not sweaty," I told him. "Mama's drinking coffee." And has spin class at lunch.
With the green light that his mama didn't resemble the Pacific Ocean with dead fish floating near him, he came over and gave my legs a squeeze. I patted him on his head, noticing that his buzz cut was growing out, and asked him if he slept good.
"I want a waffle."
And that was that.
Miles' inquiry into whether I was sweaty was not off-base. There are many a morning when I'm standing in the kitchen, in the same huddled position over a cup of coffee, with sweat dripping off my leg. There are miles under my Rogas and salt stains on my bra. He might not have been bothered as an infant by nursing post-run but even touching me now is taboo. And who could blame him?
Nor was I offended by the question. It's probably the least hurtful thing he says to me - and, no, I'm not talking about when he said he was mad at the world yesterday. More mornings than not, when I retrieve Miles from the crib, he'll outstretch his arms and ask me a question. One question.
"Mama all done doing Bodypump?"
Each and every time he asks, I feel a twinge in my chest. The familiar sensation akin to a heart break.
When I decided to pursue my Bodypump certification, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I figured, if anything, I would learn a few things and help the family budget by getting paid (nominally) to work out rather than paying for a class. I didn't think that it would lead to a new passion, the year to Make Shit Happen and spending two nights a week away from him. I didn't realize that I wouldn't see him before he went to bed on Tuesday and Thursday, that I wouldn't be able to read "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" for the 3,276 time. I wouldn't get to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" or answer "What a bushel peck mean?" I wouldn't be able to place him in the crib with his menagerie of animals or be the last face he saw till morning.
More importantly, I didn't think that he would recognize my "absence." I naively believed that he would go about his day, as I do mine, finding other ways to fill his time than pulling my hair.
Logically, I know that is OK to be away from him and good for me to do things for me. I know that I will be a better mother if I pursue outside interests and find things that fulfill me physically, mentally and emotionally. I understand that the hours I am missing are just a fraction of the time I spend with him and make the other bed times that much more special.
I know that. And, yet, nothing can stop the flood waves of guilt. It plagues me more and more as the weeks go by, as life gets busier and Hood to Coast nears.
I look for answers and reassurance but find little. Just a push to keep doing in the vain hope that, one day, the work-life-family-exercise balance will be there.