Every other Thursday, Casey, my four year old, and I head to Baltimore for our 1:30 appointment at Johns Hopkins. I should be be thankful for this - so incredibly thankful- because we travel there for a peanut allergy clinical trial that very few people are able to participate in. If all goes well, at the end of three years, Casey will be, for lack of a better word, "cured." And that's huge.
But going to Baltimore from DC so often has proved to be a pain.
Every other Thursday, I pick Casey up early from school. I take him to the McDonald's drive through and get him a happy meal. And then I battle traffic for the hour drive up 1-95, drive through the swanky and then the mean streets of Baltimore, and arrive at the kingdom that is Johns Hopkins. Casey takes his dose, we sit and watch TV for an hour before we are cleared to go, and then we come home, and battle the traffic once again. And before I know it, two weeks fly by and we are back at it again. Back to Baltimore.
In the midst of everything else going on in my life, I generally grimace when I realize it's another Thursday. Because it's just SO MUCH on top of everything. On top of normal school pick ups and activities and napping babies and other doctor's appointments and diaper rashes and teaching a class and furniture delivery windows and feeding the family 3 meals a day. On our Baltimore Thursdays, I usually leave the house at 11am and get home at 4pm when all is said and done. That's 5 hours out of a day that is extremely hectic as it is.
This morning was a doozy. The babysitter showed up at 11am to watch Colin, my 14 month old, and as soon as I was getting ready to walk out the door, I realized I couldn't find my car keys. ANYWHERE. I ended up having to take the babysitter's car to pick Casey up, have my husband meet me at Casey's school to give me his spare key, go pick up McDonalds, drop the babysitter's car back off, switch cars, and then head to Baltimore 15 minutes past the time I had planned (and I hate being late. HATE). I realized as I was getting on the highway that I had forgotten to call my oldest son's school to let them know he needed to go to aftercare, since I would be in Baltimore when school let out. I then realized that I didn't have blue tooth in the car so I could not make said call. As I glanced at my phone to connect the Bluetooth (which did not ultimately work), I realized I had 6+ emails from students from a class that I am teaching, all of whom wanted immediate answers. Then the babysitter called. The cleaning people had arrived, and they couldn't find the check I had left. And Colin wouldn't go down for his nap and was crying hysterically and what should she do.
I had to exhale.
I had to drive to Baltimore.
Casey slept the whole way. And I thought.
I thought about how I've been running on empty lately. How I keep waiting for things to calm down - for the Baltimore appointments to end, for the house to be settled into, for the class I'm teaching to finish, for daylight savings to come, for the love of God. Because then, I can just be still. I can relax. Be present. Actually enjoy what I'm doing. I can finish this race I'm on.
But the longer I'm at this whole motherhood thing, I'm realizing it's a never-ending race. It's always going to be something. ALWAYS. Whether it's sick kids or activities or work or lost keys or trips to Baltimore, things are never easy. Good, but not easy.
My sister just had a baby - her first. My niece is four weeks old and is tiny and precious and amazing and I just want to eat her every time I see her. But a newborn is a newborn. My sister is doing great with it all so far, but she has had her bumps in the road - a post partum hemorrhage, latching issues, clogged ducts, etc. During a recent conversation, she alluded to the fact that these nitpicky issues seem to be never-ending - that when it's not one thing, it's another. That she can't wait until everything just calms down.
I had to smirk. Because of course, things will calm down in one way, but once they do, other things flare up. Teething and allergies and huge goose egg bruises on foreheads. Flu seasons and food refusal and random rashes that have no source. Childcare and preschools and will everyone please just be nice to my kid? New houses and new jobs and trying to maintain a sense of self on top of all of it. And then every other curve ball that life throws at you. Some are good, and some are bad, but they all keep coming.
It's always something.
On my drive to Baltimore today, I realized I needed to stop waiting for something to be over. I need to enjoy all my somethings. And you know what? I did enjoy Baltimore today. And so did Casey. He was groggy when we arrived from his impromptu nap, so I carried him through the parking garage. He hugged me the whole time. He brought a Ninja Turtle into the hospital with him and introduced him to everyone. He proudly sat in the chair for his "arm squeeze" all by himself, and then took his dose of peanuts easily with apple juice. He watched a show while we waited, and I was able to sit. Just sit and be. And I tried not to think about all of the things happening back in DC. I tried to be present in Baltimore. And it was nice.
What's the saying - it's all about the journey, not the destination? What's the destination here anyway?
There really is no reason for me to dread these Thursdays in Baltimore. The fact is, some day I will long for a Thursday in Baltimore with Casey.
Life doesn't get any better than where I am right now. Somethings and all.
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