I zip my coat up to my chin, and start pushing. The three year old in the stroller is bundled up well, protected against the brisk March breeze. She is happy to be outside, her snack cup full of Cheerios, little crackers and a special treat — mini marshmallows.
We walk past a soccer field, dozens of robins dotting the dormant grass. During the morning hours it had rained, bringing juicy worms to the surface of the dirt. Emmy and I talk about the robins, eating their lunch.
Further on our way, we hear sirens in the distance, and we talk about police cars.
Emmy asks me about the robbers. What were the robbers doing again? she asks. Confused for a minute, I realize she is talking about the robins in the field we passed. I laugh, thinking about worm-eating robbers.
We talk more about the robins, with chatter about police cars thrown in for good measure. Emmy drops a few Cheerios on the ground, wanting to feed the birds. The marshmallows have long since disappeared into her belly.
We walk in a large loop, past the railroad tracks where a Metra train goes by, past the house where one of Emmy’s friends live, turning the corner and back to our house we go. Emmy lasts for about two miles. I’m determined to walk four today, and I drop her back at our house where my sister is watching Lily. I continue on my own.
I start retracing my steps. I plug earbuds in, looking forward to some kid-free minutes. My eclectic playlist begins where I left off last time. Beck, Eric Clapton, Dixie Chicks. A little bit Country, a little bit Rock ‘n Roll.
I smile as I pass a Cheerio on the ground. A few steps later on, I see stroller tracks in the mud. As much as I enjoy walking with my daughter, I also cherish this time to myself. I can listen to music; I can think; I can be quiet.
I walk briskly, trying to improve my time. When I arrive back at the house, four miles under my belt, I’m expecting to see that I walked the second loop much more quickly. I wasn’t slowed down by giving Emmy a drink or letting her out of the stroller so she could walk a few blocks with me. To my surprise, I have only improved my time by three minutes.
Two loops; both giving me time I want, time I need. Time with one child, to talk with her and spend some precious time outside after a long winter. Time alone, to think and walk and renew my spirit.
For more simple moments that show the bigger picture, visit Hyacynth at Undercover Mother.