By Megan Taylor Krueger
I have to put you down. I warned you this would be it, I wasn’t singing another song. My grip is tightening around your tiny legs, your little arms. I need you to nap right now. Right this second before I combust, convulse—unglue.
Okay, I am already there.
I need to put you down and close the door. I need to hope for the best and walk away. You cannot understand my weary eyes glaring down at you; these eyes are only meant to love and comfort you—that is all you have ever known. Thank God I can breathe; thank God I know how to breathe. I was getting mad, and you didn’t do anything wrong.
Let’s review the day, the events leading up to my detachment, my seemingly out-of-body experience.
At breakfast the dog puked all over the house. Okay, in just two rooms, but the acrobatics it took to clean up made it seem like every room. You took a catnap; it felt like forcing a lion to be caged. Energy spent, nothing gained. So, you were already cranky at lunch.
Big Brother #2 was frantic because a special Lego piece was missing—we needed to start a rescue search immediately. We needed that piece now. Big Brother #1 cried before the bus came because he didn’t have time to watch Wild Kratts (he has to complete a series of tasks before any TV on school mornings–such a travesty; his life is so hard).
And the dog decided today to begin yacking all over because antibiotics can upset her tummy. Or maybe it’s the 1,000 Cheerios, partial bagel and four blueberries she stole from the corners of your highchair. You love it though, you love her—that pink wet tongue on your toes and nose creates giggle-fits. So I cannot be mad; you two connive and a sweet bond is formed. But there’s still the puke.
Fleeting moments of every day I feel like the Mommie Dearest character. Seriously blinding moments when I am hungry (because I am the last one to eat), when I am tired (because you still aren’t sleeping through the night), when I am lonely (your dad works a lot), when I am overwhelmed (there are three of you and one of me, actually four if we count our four-legged senior citizen), when I am done (I haven’t run in days, practiced little yoga). My equilibrium is off, my switch dimly lit. Joan Crawford’s got nothing on me in these ugly moments. And this wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last go-around.
But at least I can still breathe. Yoga and running taught me.
I can still pray. Wonderful sister-joists, forever friends, beautiful neighbors from childhood through today taught me.
I can lean on your dad. Ready to rescue the second he walks in the door. He doesn’t even take a breath, just dives in to help.
And I can be proud of myself even in the darkest, scariest, ugliest moments. Because I know when to put you down and walk away. It’s hard. Sometimes I want to get madder but you look up at me with those loving, trusting baby blues. All you know is that I am here to hold you, teach you, love you, feed you and be everything to you. In just a few tomorrows you won’t need me, not near as much.
But today I admit I want to break out. I want to run (for me this is figurative and literal). I want to run at dawn, at dusk, any time I choose. I want to hide out, hide away and run so far it takes me forever to return. But you are all timing me: you, my family, track my minutes, not to test my fitness but to control my freedom.
I take comfort in this self-realization. I take pride in admitting I am not perfect and life is overwhelming with you little ones. Because I get mad, I get bitter. Not every lullaby lulls you softly, not every game ends happily. Someone has to cry themselves to sleep; someone skins a knee after I said to stop running. But I know when to walk away, to run the hills and admit I need a minute. I need to close the door, turn on the bathroom fan and curl up on the bathmat for a moment. And when I do, I can emerge better, come back stronger. I do this for you. I do the best I can and sometimes that isn’t rosy, that isn’t butterflies and bubbles.
But because I love you, I know when to say enough.
Megan Taylor Krueger lives in Minnesota with her three boys, her husband and their running-addicted yellow lab. She wrestles up meals, runs with the dog, races the kids and hides away in yoga classes. Her blog is Running the Dream, Living with Boys.