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This is going to sound like an excuse, but I am having a horrible time fitting walking back into my life. The last time I did it regularly, we had only one child, and that child was Braeden. He makes everything easier. Avery, on the other hand….

Avery doesn’t love her stroller. She’s a very physical kid who wants to do what she wants to do. When you strap her in and she doesn’t want to be there, she screams, nonstop. When she was a baby I used to walk with another friend who has a son close in age. It worked perfectly for months; the motion of the stroller would lull her to sleep. I felt so lucky, then one day WHAM! My luck ran out. Avery stayed awake and she screamed and she screamed and she screamed. Tried it again a couple more times, but without luck. Avery’s love affair with her stroller – and my time to exercise – vanished as completely if both had gone into witness protection. To paint a portrait of contrast, Braeden happily spent eight hours in his stroller when he was six years old. We were Christmas shopping, and he just kind of kicked back and watched the shoppers rush by. Very, very different kids.

So here we are, and my problem remains. My standard walk is 3.69 miles, and it takes me a little over an hour. It’s an hour and 10 minutes, currently. I want to get it back down to just under an hour, which was where it used to be. But first things first, I need to find a way to walk. Let me tell you, 3.69 miles is a long, long way to go with a screaming child. I walk in part to relieve stress, and her screams effectively negate that. A friend suggested I wear headphones to drown her out. I guess I could, in theory. But I’m apparently made of weaker parenting material, because I just can’t stand the thought. For a short distance, sure. But over an hour? Yes, sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like, and that includes my darling daughter. She’s forced to adhere to someone else’s plans much of the time, especially during the school year. But still, the walking thing troubles me. I don’t think it’s good for her to scream for an hour, and I’m concerned it would cause her to loathe her stroller even more, which would make things very tough when I truly have no choice. The walking still feels like a choice. Yes, I need to walk. But there has to be a way I can avoid involving Avery. There just has to.

The timing on all of this is just crappy. Chris started the new temp job this week, so he’s been gone all day and home late. The first day, we all ended up at my in-laws’ for a visit with out-of-town family, which was lovely and very much appreciated, but we weren’t home until about 9:30 PM, an odd time for me to head out of the house for over an hour. Chris has been fighting a cold as well, so he comes home exhausted. The new schedule is an adjustment. Once again, I am extremely grateful for income, however brief it might be. But it’s still a major change, and change is hard.

I’m assuming we’ll settle in soon, and I will figure this out, at least the majority of the time. I would like to be walking at least five days a week, and possibly even six. But at the moment five would be awesome. Tonight was Braeden’s birthday, so we took him and his best friend out for burgers and ice cream. Fun, but once again home at 9:30. Tomorrow should be a “normal” day, whatever that might mean, so I am hoping to be able to walk immediately upon Chris’ return home. I have a burger, cheddar fries and ice cream to burn off, so I really need to pound the pavement. Moreover, an hour or so to myself would be very much appreciated.

The truth is, I know Chris feels similarly. He’s been up at 5:30 AM and doesn’t get home until 6:30 (ideally) or 7:00 PM. He gets home and Avery wants him now, as do I. By 7:00 I am totally seeking toddler escape. To me, even his ride home in hideous traffic sounds good, because he is actually alone. I know it’s not what he’d choose for his quality time, and it wouldn’t be what I’d want either. But at least he’s by himself, able to pick his own radio station and not be sitting there singing the ABC’s or “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” My only alone time comes when she naps, and I am typically rocking her boat with my foot to make certain she remains asleep. If I am lucky, I can write then. Today I was insanely lucky and she stayed asleep through a phone call and part of a TV show. Unheard of! I got to speak to a friend uninterrupted for over an hour. I needed that more than you can imagine. Unless you’re a mom, in which case you can probably imagine only too well.

My baby boy is 10 today. That’s still rocking my world. I wrote an extremely sentimental post about it yesterday. I made myself cry while I was writing it, even. Pathetic, right? It might have been self-indulgent, but oh well. It’s a blog, people. I’m not selling anything, or even telling anyone they could be earning money with their blogs. I do not examine my previous posts, determine the most popular subjects and write accordingly. Do people seriously do that? This is it, me. My place of escape, my alone time. My place to dump all of the muck and figure things out as I go. “This is the fear, this is the dread, these are the contents of my head.” That line, not from Glen or Toad, sums things up perfectly. I am here for me. I write for me. I hope some people find something in what I write worthy of their interest, but that’s only part of my goal. I want to improve my writing, but I can’t promise that every post will be a step closer to my masterpiece, either.

I find myself obsessing about the numbers, lately. How many followers, how many views, how many likes. I’ve noticed my feelings get hurt when a post doesn’t get a certain number of likes, and worse, I’ve found myself getting jealous of people with large numbers of followers or – and I am cringing as I write this – envious of the bloggers racking up the awards. I am embarrassed to admit that, but it’s the truth. And you know what? I came here to write, and to write freely. That means I get to admit the crap that makes me feel like I’m still in junior high sitting at the “losers’ table.” It also means I need to be able to write and not attach a value to my words based on some random internet response to them, or lack thereof. I’m not published, and I am only trying to please – and to free – myself. There’s no one rejecting my submissions or editing me for content (which God knows must be obvious by now). I need to let go of the need to please everyone around me. If a post I write doesn’t garner the kudos, then it doesn’t. I’ve never won a popularity contest in my life, so why should my expectations be any different here? I am here for me. I hope you will like what you read. Hell, I hope you’ll like me, in the end. It’s not why I write, but it still matters. I choose my words for me, but I’m still offering them to everyone. I would like them to be well-received, appreciated or even applauded. I just have to be careful not to make that what this is all about.

End of weird self-directed rant. Pay no attention to the girl behind the curtain… she’s back there for a reason.