Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Crazy Making Stuff of Life

There's been a strange combination of crappiness in my household that has left me feeling that all is not well with the Force. I am often all too aware of the shortcomings of the world around me - I teach ethics, after all, and right now I'm teaching Environmental Ethics -  and that forces me to talk and think about some pretty unpleasant and depressing things. But I always find solace in my home, with my husband and daughter, our two cats, and one cranky old dog. Our little house on the prairie in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains full of love and life and energy and thoughtfulness always provides a refuge from the world out there. But this week something was out of whack - all was not well in the best of all possible homes...

First, crappiness #1: As you all know by now, because of my incessant whining, I'm injured. It's not serious, but it's tedious, I don't have a clue how long it will last, and I can't really run - "really" meaning that I've pushed it a bit for what I refer to as "woggles" = walk/jog/waddle - but those woggles are: a) not very satisfying, and b) they leave me wondering if not doing them would speed up my healing so that I could get back sooner to 'real' running which would be satisfying. So when I'm not running I'm neither pleasant to be around, nor am I as able to deal as well with life's difficulties.

Which brings me to crappiness #2: My daughter seemed/seems to be going through something, I knew/know not what. My daughter is a happy soul - sincere and caring. Unlike her two cranky old parents, she is the ray of sunshine in the house and she is the absolute love of our lives. I feel connected to this little being in a way I've never felt before. When we hangout together or go for long walks we talk the whole time. But then, in just one day, like the switch of a light, she changed. At first I couldn't put my finger on it: Lots of whining and constant complaints, talking back but otherwise not talking much at all, claiming she needed time alone hiding behind the curtains in her room, being mean (with a smile on her face!), grunting at everything we said - She turns five next week - but in one day I saw my daughter turn into a 13 year-old before my horrified eyes. At first I thought she was just testing us, pushing the limits, and we responded with timeouts and taking things away from her. But then I began to feel in my very being that something was very wrong, and she wasn't just being a bad kid...something serious had happened.

But let's return, for a second, to crappiness #1 - perhaps nothing had changed with her, perhaps it was me. I'm not as patient and reasonable when I can't run. There's no way for me to release stress and process things when I can't run. Perhaps it was crappiness #1 that was actually causing me to believe that crappiness #2 was real. But, perhaps crappiness #2 was a creation of my running denied mind and soul.

Oh, and don't let me forget crappiness #3 - My Mother has been battling a very aggressive form of breast cancer since March, and I spend at least an hour on the phone each and every day trying to cheer her on and keep her spirits up. She has surgery scheduled for this coming Tuesday, and while this is what we've all been working for, I'm scared. I'm scared for her and I'm scared for me.

Returning to my daughter...My husband's assurance that this was not all in my head, left me spinning - Okay this isn't just me - And this may sound melodramatic (because it no doubt is), but I looked into her eyes and I didn't see her there. I was terrified, about what I'm not sure. I'm sure that 'experienced' parents would laugh at my overreaction - but I felt that something was deeply wrong with all that I care about.

And in that moment, running meant nothing to me anymore. It could not save me in this case. I needed my daughter back...

Did something happen at school? Did someone hurt her? Was her new friend either upsetting her or encouraging this acting out? We asked her what was wrong. She clammed up. Alarms went off in my head and heart. Then we thought hard about the last few days: Tuesday night she had had a traumatic experience with a splinter (splinters are the only thing this kid has a totally irrational, almost phobic, fear of) It was under her fingernail and it needed to come out. After more than an hour of bargaining and histrionics, my husband and I held her tight and in literally 2 seconds I had it out. Instantly she was calm.

All was well again...and yet, it wasn't...

Last night the dam of silence broke in an instant. My husband and I realized that in some way, unintentionally, we had violated a trust and Sophia was pissed at us and scared and confused. We started talking about it, and suddenly SHE returned.The realization that your child has an inner life that may not always be shared with you can be terrifying. But my husband and I learned something momentous today.

I still can't run, and I'm not happy about it, but my world is okay again because, as important as running is, nothing is more important than my family. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really sorry for myself, I need to be reminded of this.


  1. Thank you for this post in more ways than you'll ever know. You and your family will be in my thoughts and I'm sending good energy your way.

    You did what was best for your daughter -- gave her some space, then surrounded her with your love.

    And, no matter where Outside Magazine rates you, you're still the numero uno running blog in my book.

    Keep on keeping it so real!

  2. You're an amazing mother! It's hard, sometimes, walking the line of being a parent/friend/disciplinarian/teacher/confidant/companion to your children. Sometimes, as a parent, we forget our children have thoughts and feelings that we neither understand nor expect.
    I think it's immensely important that we always keep the line of communication open with our children. Allow them to speak- and WE need to sit and listen. In kind, we need them to listen to us...
    I think you handled it beautiful, and I continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers (hoping you heal quick...and your sweet mother as well.)

  3. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back.


    Mandie Hayes


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