Now that I have no kids at home during the day, one of the things I get to do is go for walks. I love going for walks. When the girls were little, I'd pack them up in the stroller just about every warm day and we'd head out for a walk around the neighborhood. We did this in St George, in Michigan, and even here in Illinois. We'd walk to parks and let them play. We packed snacks and games and books to keep them occupied. I would often go walking with a friend, which, let me clue you, if you want to get to know someone really well, make them your walking buddy. Something about walking allows you to talk about anything and everything. When I think back on all the walking buddies I've had, I realize that I'm really naming some of my most treasured friendships. But I am even happy to go walking alone, I put my earbuds in and listen to my favorite podcasts. (This American Life, Radiolab, Serial, The Mystery Show, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Invisibilia, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, in case you were wondering.)
Julia got too big for walks in strollers a couple years ago (she looked pretty ridiculous huddled into our double stroller), and Ella grew out of them about a year ago. Handily, Ella was also in preschool about a year ago, so I was able to do my walking while she was at school. But school was only 3 mornings a week, and sometimes going to the grocery store and taking a shower took precedence over a walk. The same thing happened this fall, she was in school every day but those 2 1/2 hours flew by so fast, I didn't always get in a walk.
But now. Now I can go walking every day. I most definitely have the time. And I can even go in the afternoon, when things have warmed up a bit. There is something so refreshing about being outside, feeling the sun on your face, hearing the birds (even in January!), and knowing that your body is completely functional and you are able to go however far you want. It's all very freeing.
This week's walks have been particularly enjoyable. Why? Because of the ice. I know that sounds crazy, but I promise it's not. Early in the week, we had rain, which then froze overnight. The sidewalks all had a very thin sheet of ice on them. Slippery, yes. But who says slippery has to be bad? I had such fun "ice skating" down the road! If I needed a break, I'd walk on the snow covered grass. But I didn't need many breaks. I felt like a kid, wearing socks on the wood floors, "skating" everywhere I go.
And then yesterday the ice started to melt a bit. Which meant there were little ice sheets along the edges of the sidewalk, just waiting for me to crunch. There is something strangely satisfying about breaking an ice sheet. I'm not entirely sure what it is, the feeling of power, the sound of the crunch, the web of cracks left behind by my shoe? Maybe all of the above. Today the ice melted even more, which meant more ice sheets to crack. It also meant the ice on the pond I walk around was even thinner. It took a lot of will power not to find a big rock to chuck into the middle of that pond. Oh, I wanted to do it so bad. But if I look ridiculous skating on sidewalks and smashing the icy edges, think how I'd look chucking rocks into a pond, trying to break the surface. I am all for finding your inner child, but let's not go overboard.
This is all to say, I'm enjoying my "retirement" from being a mother of small children. There are times when I am sad to say goodbye to that beautiful yet exhausting phase of life, but mostly I'm excited to be embarking on this new phase, the one where kids are more physically independent (even if we are on the edge of the emotional breakdown known as puberty), and I can go walking every day.