Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just Keep Running

This morning I walked into the 40-degree weather wearing running shorts and a jacket. When I got from the back door to the alley, I started to run. I kept running until I felt sure I could come home and love my kids. That was it. My goal that I kept repeating in my head: Run until you love your kids.
I went to bed angry last night. I had yelled at the kids and smacked my hand against the black granite countertop. I don't yell often, so when I do the kids get a kind of stunned look on their faces.
I guess it was building up and I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that I received a couple of "Happy Mother's Day" comments from the kids, one about 5 p.m. when the 13-year-old called from a friend's house after he remembered it was mother's day, and a very sweet card from my husband. I have long since abandoned Mother's Day as a holiday.
But on Monday, after I came home from working and had a headache behind my eyes, I drove my middle child to tennis and sat in the sun reading a book and waiting to watch him play. He hasn't played tennis before so he had about one good shot for every 25 bad ones, but everybody starts somewhere. He was, of course, mad at himself about his awkward tennis abilities and when I dropped him to pick up the youngest, he apologized. "Sorry."
Sorry? About tennis? Come on. That's not important.
The 13-year-old climbed in the car with his guitar and I dropped him at his lesson. I ran home, defrosted the hamburgers and threw them on the grill.

My daughter, her bedroom door closed with music escaping beneath, was supposed to be going to work out with her personal trainer. This is her first month working with a personal trainer and it's kind of an experiment to see if she can build up enough muscle to swim with a division 1 college when she graduates next year. And, for our family, it's a pretty big financial commitment. I don't want to throw that in her face, but I do expect her to take it seriously.
So, when she was still in her room at 6:21 and she needed to be working out at the gym at 6:30, I nudged her along. "Why can't you get there on time? You're supposed to stretch before you start working out."
"I got this," she assured me.
When I returned with the 13-year-old, who was pestering me to sign his volunteer-hour sheet because he hadn't gotten it signed when he worked at the YMCA, I served dinner to the boys. The 13-year-old is just sullen and complaining most of the time. He answers me in grunts unless he is arguing to get his way with something.
The 15-year-old was reading. I know that's a good thing, but he had homework. He finally started it and took breaks to watch Dancing With the Stars before I realized, at 9 p.m. that he was filling out his government review sheet, which meant he had a test today. He wasn't anywhere near ready to study for the test. My daughter was working on a paper that was due today and had probably spent the afternoon on Facebook rather than working on it.
"Why are you so mad?" My son asked innocently. That's when I slapped the counter and said I was tired of him doing his school work "half-assed."
"You wanted to go to school. You're responsible for getting the work done and getting good grades."
His interim report this quarter was the lowest it has ever been with a C in one class. If he's trying, that's one thing, but if he's reading and playing video games and gets started on his homework at 9, that's another.
Then I turned on my daughter. "And it's ridiculous to think you can go to workouts late every week and then convince us to pay for swim camp."
I finished unloading the dishwasher in silence and cleared off the table where my daughter had eaten after she got home. I got ready for bed and closed the door behind me. No good night to the boys or Grace. No kiss on the cheek with an "I love you."
I know they aren't doing drugs or having sex or stealing from the local drugstore. They're basically good kids, just not stepping up to the plate without constant nagging.
When Grace printed out her paper, she came in and kissed me goodnight. And that was it.
Until this morning when I woke up, did my usual debate about whether to go for a run. That same headache was pulsing behind my eyes. I wondered if it could be high blood pressure. Maybe I'd run out onto the street and collapse. But I put on my shoes and plugged in my iPod and started to run. That's when the idea hit me, just keep running, until you can go home and love your kids again.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Ah, teenagers. I'm so glad I'm just a grandmother now and that those days are behind me. It's such a tough job being a parent.


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