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The absolutely delicious chocolate cream pie I had for my birthday at the Beeliner Diner. I’m going to get fitter but I’m not going to completely deprive myself.

As a birthday present to myself, I got up at 6am on Tuesday to attend a 6:30am metabolic conditioning class at a gym I’d never been to but that I’d seen an ad for on Facebook. This is not something I usually do, and to be honest, something I am likely to do again. Metcon, as it’s called, is when you do several sets of an exercise for 30 seconds at a time with 10 second breaks in between, then switch to a new exercise and do it all over again. The exercises were hard and I had to take a few breaks. By the end it was clear to me that this kind of class is not for me. The owner of the gym talked with me during one of my breaks and said, “it gets easier every time,” and then as I was leaving, one of the other women in the class said to me, “I’ve been doing this for a year and it’s still really hard.” But I’m really glad I went.

Tuesday evening during Niki’s martial arts class I talked with my friend Brian, the general manager at EvolveAll, where my kids have done martial arts forever and where I have occasionally taken classes. Brian is extraordinarily kind and understanding and I knew I could be candid with him about my desires and fears. He explained the options for classes and training at EvolveAll and I decided on an assessment as a first step. Meanwhile, I signed up for a 10-class pass at Sun and Moon Yoga. And yesterday morning I got up at 6, again, for a 6:30am yoga class. I have intermittently loved yoga. I hadn’t been to an in-person class since before the pandemic. I tried online classes for a while but my house (especially when the kids were home from school) was not conducive to a peaceful, focused yoga practice.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person and I am typically at my most alert and creative late at night. But as a mom, I’ve learned to do plenty of things that are not in my nature. Since she’s been doing crew this spring, Zoe has had to get up at 4:30 or 5:30 for various practices and regattas and I am usually the one to drive her to the boathouse when it’s still dark. If she can do this, which I know she does not enjoy, I can too. But I am old enough to know that if I’m getting up early, it needs to be for an activity I will enjoy at least a little, and not dread.

By yesterday afternoon I was quite sore. And sleepy. But I did have a salad for lunch! And I took naps. And of course Zoe told me last night that today was one of the days she had to be at the boathouse at 5:20, so I woke up at 5 to drive her. It would be nice if I could coordinate my morning classes with her morning practices, but that would be too easy, right? I mentioned to her last night that I might try to take a walk in Anacostia Park while she rowed, but it was completely dark when we got to the boathouse and I did not feel like a walk along the river in the dark would be super safe. I am determined to take a walk sometime today. Maybe I can convince Niki to walk to martial arts tonight instead of drive.

On my birthday I also went to DSW to buy new sneakers, but of course they didn’t have the ones I wanted in my size (11). I ended up ordering them online and was amused to discover that my two colleagues on the communications team at my office also have generously proportioned feet (size 11 and 12 wide). Is there a correlation between communications skills and big feet? Probably.

I know I’m not the only person to have gained weight during the pandemic. It’s a lot easier to justify eating your feelings and sleeping too much and lying around like a sloth when you’re in lockdown or you think this whole mess is going to end in a few months. It seems like a few months has become three years, and when your clothes don’t fit anymore you’ve got to take steps. Or I have to take steps. I won’t presume to speak for you. I will never be skinny or fit into my high school prom dress (why would I even want to?) but I am ready to regain some strength and be comfortable in pants without an elastic waist. That doesn’t seem overly ambitious, does it?

This morning I took the mouse that had been squeaking all night (because it was stuck in a glue trap designed to catch roaches and other insects) and carried it into the backyard and pried its little paws and matted fur off of the glue and left it in the grass. I have no idea if it will survive, but I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t kill it, although we’ve had mousetraps all over our house for months because of a persistent colony. When the mousetraps kill them, I bag the bodies and the traps and put them outside for the trash. The line between active and passive destruction is thin.

The mouse did not ask to be made into a metaphor. And yet.

There is nothing particularly wrong with me, any more than anyone else. I am more sensitive than most. I have a sleep disorder and other minor afflictions. But this world. The conflict. The cruelty. The confusion. The things that smell bad. It’s like layer upon layer of glue traps of injustice and illness and insecurity. No amount of alliteration can save us. Nothing we can do eliminates the suffering.

Today is Easter. Resurrection–to me–is another metaphor. An opportunity to remind ourselves of all the possibilities of life that emerge from the darkest of days.

This week we spent a few days at the beach. For most of our trip, it was cold and windy. Sitting on the sand and watching the waves was lovely but a bit chilly. The boardwalk was deserted at first. We spent time inside, reading and writing and drawing, and then it warmed up. Everyone else noticed too, and there were suddenly plenty of people on the beach, even though it was still too cool to swim. Who knows what all those other people were doing inside while it was cold, but when the sun came out, they did too. Possibilities opening up like the tulips that lined the sidewalks.

Traveling magnifies the intensity of parenting by 1,000. There are even more decisions than usual to make. Calculations become more complex when you factor in everyone’s desires, preferences, and needs–whether they are stated explicitly or you happen to know them or you’re somehow supposed to guess correctly what they are. Traveling reminds me that I cannot make everyone happy, and that no matter how much I might want to, it’s ultimately not my job and not within my power. I do a lot for my kids, but I can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything. The Easter Bunny did not come to our house today. I warned the kids yesterday that the Bunny was just not available this year, and that there were plenty of other celebrations happening, as both of their birthdays and mine are this month. They both said repeatedly that it was fine and they didn’t mind. Easter is much more of a cultural event to them than a religious one. They are both savvy about the nature of middle-of-the-night visiting creatures (our resident mice never bring us any treats). We just splurged on treats during our beach trip, and we still have plenty of candy left over from their Christmas stockings. Niki said, “I get it. The Easter Bunny is stuck in traffic, has bills to pay, calls to make.” They understand. They are not deprived. I had a couple flashes of guilt, but they were fleeting.

This afternoon I stepped outside to see if the sticky mouse was still in the grass where I had left them. I did not see any sign of them. I hoped that they managed to find refuge somewhere (other than back in our house, maybe?) and some way of removing the residue from their paws. I wonder if the mice still in here are missing that little dude. I can’t think too much more about this or I will become very sad. Absolutely there are much larger and more pressing problems in the world, but it comes back once again to my compulsion to bear witness to suffering, and examination of my role in alleviating it. The mouse remains a metaphor.

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