"This feels scary."
Walking down a sterile hallway, I clutched Miles' hand. Uncertainty was filling my belling, a thumping echoing in my head. We passed racquetball courts with tiny windows filtering the fluorescent light. There were empty chairs pressed against walls and a stainless drinking fountain mounted on the white tile wall.
At the end of the hall, which seemed to narrow as we came to its end, there was a door.
My hand reached out slowly and tentatively turned the knob.
The door opened into an expansive room. There were fun centers and shelves lined with toys. Blocks spilled out from baskets and a small child rocks on a horse. Two women looked up, smiling. Assuring Miles.
As I dropped off Miles at the childcare enter of a Cincinnati YMCA branch, the mommy guilt pangs were real, deep. I felt guilty that I was taking him to a place unknown, with faces unfamiliar, just so I could run. I did it so I cold get in my (arbitrary number of) miles for the week. I did it for the quiet. It was "I." It was not "he" or "we." Just me.
We regularly use the YMCA child care option – every Thursday and Saturday – but this day felt different. I can't tell you why beyond that I felt so selfish and worried. (Or, pregnancy hormones?) Worried that Miles would be scared or lonely. Worried that he wouldn't like the toys or the other children wouldn't be nice to him.
But still, I gave him one last kiss as an attendant opened the door and he sauntered in. I shared my cell phone number in the event they needed me, sure that they would. I watched him go to a row of shelves and then I walked away. The door slamming behind me.
It echoed for every step of the 6 miles.
Typically, when I go to Cincinnati to visit Grandma+family, I fit in my runs thanks to the BOB, Mark's help, my grandma or some combination of those. But, this weekend, Miles and I were flying solo, granting Mark some much deserved down time. He would not be there to entertain Miles while I ran or make a convenient trip to Dunkin Donuts. The BOB, though a loyal friend, is not going to happen right now – not with a toddler, not on the hills of my grandma's west-side neighborhood, not at 7 months pregnant.
And, as for my grandma, she was getting ready for dialysis. There were things to do and her pickup time is not predictable. I wanted 6 miles, to boot, which would take an hour. I try to limit my time away to a half-hour since she has a walker and Miles can, sometimes, be demanding. It just doesn't feel right to leave him for that long.
Then again, on this day, the Y didn't either.
But when I returned, sweaty and accomplished, I was reminded than an hour on the treadmill was good for me. And Miles. There, inside the nursery, he was happily swinging on a Fun & Fitness Air Walker, several children surrounding him. When he saw me, he dismounted but with no sense of urgency. He said goodbye to the attendants and waved before leaving with me.
"Were you OK?" I asked.
"Was it fun?"
"A lot fun or a little bit fun?"
"A lot fun," he said. And, without prompting, he shared that the kids were nice and there were boys who wanted to play with him. One was Gus. "But I don't remember the other one's name."
We walked back down the hall, again hand in hand. The pangs were dulling and the belly calming. He was OK. I was OK.
It was OK.