She Battles

Each day, right after her cup of coffee, she laces up her tennie runners as her dad used to call them, straps the baby in the stroller and begins her walk down a lonely dirt, country road.  Slow at first, building steam, gearing up.  Just barely after she starts, her mind tells her to quit.  Gives her the talk.  Lists the excuses. But she has no excuses.  Time is no excuse.  Ability is no excuse.  Rain or snow is no excuse.  So she perseveres.  Each day she goes a little farther.  Pushes herself a little harder.  Forces herself to make it just past the cotton field with the new plants pushing through, then a little farther to the windmill.  Finally to the red barn where she can turn around.

Most days she prays.  She prays for her loved ones, she thanks God for her family, her health, her many blessings.  She thinks, she sings, she talks to her baby who bounces along with her Clifford pacifier in her mouth, the breeze blowing her little crop of hair.

She’s in the midst of a battle.  An all out war against the baby weight.  A daily struggle.  She remembers her former self.   The younger her, before marriage and pregnancy transformed her into a jiggly blob.  She curses her body.  Its slowness, its sluggish metabolism, its saggy skin and weakness.  But with the next thought, she recognizes its magnificence.  Its ability to create life, to bring it forth, to nourish and sustain it.

She makes herself run now.  From telephone pole to telephone pole she runs.  The next telephone pole cheers her on.  Encourages her, reminds her that the next one is not too far off.  Until her mind once again tells her to quit, catch her breath.

She walks now.  Pushing her sleeping baby. Gasping for air.  She passes the stench of death.  Something lying in the bar ditch beneath the tall weeds.  She turns her head as the smell of rot burns into her nose.  She imagines it a mouse, a bird, a skunk.  Surely the worst is over.  “Decay faster you S.O.B.,” she mutters aloud.

Her body glistens with perspiration.  Her face is the color of beets.  Her shoulders tanned in the sun, the right one a shade darker than the left.  She turns into her drive, slowing to a snail’s pace.  At the front door, she lifts her dozing baby from the stroller and places her heavy head against her sweaty neck.  The air conditioning is a wonderful respite from the early morning heat.  Her eyes adjust to the darkness of the nursery as she places her in the crib to dream the sweet dreams of babies.

Her next battle is laundry.






Babywearing 101

My sister told me it was for wearing my baby  as she handed me the baby wrap.  I looked at her like she had stepped off the planet Zonkers.  It was an excessively long piece of material designed to be twisted, wrapped, tied, and superglued to my body.  I’ve seen people  wearing these contraptions with a baby strapped to them before, and quite honestly, I didn’t want to be one of them.

And then little EK came along.  I quickly discovered the need to grow six more arms.  If I could be any super hero of my choosing?  That’s easy.  OCTOPUS MOM!  Washing dishes is not the easiest task with a newborn in your arms.  It’s practically impossible.  As are many other chores.  It takes two hands to wash a pot, fold a towel, make a bed.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  EK is fine and content being put down.  She’s a great baby.   It’s not really her, you see. It’s me.  I want to hold her. I can’t hardly stand leaving her in one room to go work in another.  I realize I will only have myself to blame later on down the road.

The day Jolea presented me with this monstrosity of material, we tried it out.   My niece Ash was reading the directions in Greek I think, my sister was trying to follow them, I was standing there arms spread, sweating like a dog, dangling a fake baby by the arm, while my sister steered, groped, and maneuvered this wrap around my body.

When I tried it with an actual baby, after watching several videos entitled, “How to put on a baby wrap for idiots”, the actual baby hated it.  I only made her stay in there for a couple of minutes, thinking it might grow on her, but, uh, no.  She hollered.

Today was a beautiful day weather wise.   One of those Spring days I wish everyday was like.  I wanted to go for a walk to enjoy this delightful day and also not one person has offered to take this post pregnancy weight off my hands. Or my belly.  I’ve tried the stroller, but the dirt roads are just a bit too bumpy for my little baby just yet.  So, my other option was the wrap.  I can now actually put the thing on without the idiot’s instructions.  I’ve never worn a straight jacket before, at least not that I’ll admit to, but I’m thinking this isn’t far from it.  Once the baby was good and secure, we headed out.

What we looked like before.

I’m not sure if EK is just a bit small for the forward facing position or if I just have a little bit too much swing in my hips, but it was a bumpy ride for the little darling.  I felt the need to hold her head to keep from whiplashing her.  She didn’t cry during this attempt, and surprisingly she fell asleep. We set off with the sun beating down, the birds singing, and the gravel crunching.

It’s ironic to me that I carried EK on the front of my body for 9 months with relatively few problems, but walking a mile just about did me in.  Nevermind the fact that she was about 4 pounds lighter and swimming in a bowl of water upside down, controlling her own head and neck way back then.  Nevertheless, I got quite the workout.  I used muscles that hadn’t been used in quite some time and my brow got a good mopping too.

The farther we walked, the hotter we both got.  I’m sure wintertime is a great season to wear this outfit, but someone really  needs to make one out of mesh for this hot momma, and I mean that literally.  When we got home and unstrapped ourselves from it, I reminded myself of  a horse after a long hard day with a saddle blanket on, if you know what I mean.

what we look like after. EK's a little whopper jawed.

I then celebrated our accomplishment with 3 cookies and a glass of milk.

Emma just had the milk, but she was sure eyeballing my cookies.

Life is good in her swing.




In Memory of My Dad #37—the bear and the bob

Merry Christmas Eve, friends.  I hope this evening finds you all blessed with love and family.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, due to several reasons that I won’t bore you with, but hopefully you aren’t holding it against me. 

I’ve had my supper consisting of grilled cheese, sweet pickles, and Classic Lays potato chips, which coincidentally is not  pregnancy related.  It’s just the way I roll.  I’ve got a steaming cup of hot cocoa excluding marshmallows beside my computer, the Christmas tree is aglow, the presents are wrapped, the pie remains unbaked and I have a Saturday story to share with you written by my dad in September of 1996. 

The weather was seasonably cool as I started my morning run.  The Doctor had told me to exercise a little bit, so I had started to do a small bit of roadwork.

I had been immobile for the last three weeks due to a summer cold.  A medico that I saw on morning television had said there was no such thing as a summer cold, only allergies.  Well, I know the difference between allergies and a summer cold, and Doc, I had a summer cold.

I used to run out on the Bertha Parker bypass but that was before I met Crazy Jack.  We’ve all had dealings with old C.J.  He’s the one that thinks the four-lane is the Indianapolis Speedway and the speed limits don’t apply.

Mama used to tell me, “Son, you’re going to get run over on that four-lane.”  So after  hitting the bar ditch a half-dozen times or so, I thought maybe Mama knows best and found me another route to get my morning exercise. 

Crazy Jack—he could be anyone.  Maybe he’s the teenager that Daddy let borrow the keys and he’s out to impress his friend.   He might be the harried young mom trying to drive while corralling three small children.  He could be the man who had a fight with his wife and is late for work,  he could be the young wife talking on her cellular phone, or he could simply be “blue hair driving in my lane.”  Truckers ain’t no day at the beach either.

Anyway, I was ready to resume my exercise regime after the hiatus.  The morning was gray and cool.  The night birds had stopped their calling and had given way to their daytime cousins when I struck out. 

The first quarter-mile or so would be the toughest, it’s uphill before making a mad dash across the four-lane, then a leisurely down hill jaunt before turning and heading back uphill and taking it to the barn. 

My breathing comes hard as I set out.  I must find a rhythm, I tell myself, and stick to it.  The traffic is fairly light at that hour so I don’t break a stride crossing and by now the beta-endorphins are pumping in my brain and my breathing evens out as I head toward the creek.  I feel strong.  I feel free.  I wish the route was three, four miles instead of just a shade over two.  I feel as if I could run forever.

“Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” go my ragged Reeboks against the pavement.  The perfect measured stride of a long distance runner.  “Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,”  I want to shout with great exuberance because I feel so good.

I reached the cul-de-sac that marked my turning point of my measured run, when a light stitch started in my side.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pain that started in my trick knee.  Is that the shuffling of the bear I hear?  Am I bear-caught so soon.  I wavered a bit in my stride. 

The bear was hungry and gaining on me.  I hit the steepest part of my route, and thought “only one-half more mile and it will all be over.”  My breath rasping deep in my lungs, I sounded like a wind-broke horse and I struggled up and onward.  I leaned into the run and tried to ignore the aches and pains that returned many-fold.  My ancient legs quivered as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

The bear has now become full-grown and  his growls give me a little strength as I continue my task.  My nose starts to run and I’m back on my heels at this point.  The bear catches me and jumps on my back as I hit the corner turn.  I’m ready to quit.

That’s when I saw her.  She was a winsome young thing, unaware of anyone being around.  She was dressed in nothing but a pale blue negligee with midnight blue panties.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to still my rasping breath and quiet my plodding feet as she ran through the dappled grass to retrieve the morning paper. 

She appeared to be reading the headlines as she stood there in the early morning sunlit yard.  Then she must have heard me—-she looked up and gave a startled yelp as she saw me approaching in my tattered running shorts and shoes.  She reminded me of a deer caught in the headlights of a poacher.  Then she made a dash back indoors.  I think an old man’s thoughts as I approach the four-lane.

My run, for all practical purposes, is over.  Then I think of nothing at all because I’m back in Crazy Jack’s territory and he could be out there, loaded for bear.

Bob Briggs 1943-2011