I’m driving home from work, my legs tired from a day on my feet, my back stiff. I get stuck in traffic on the bridge. I hope this doesn’t cause me to fully miss bedtime.
I pull into the driveway and rush along the sidewalk, lugging all my bags. I unlock the door and as soon as I open it, I hear the quick pit-pat-pit-pat rounding the hallway corner.
It’s my heart, running toward me, at full speed.
“Mommy!” he squeals while crashing happily into my legs. His cheeks are red and his hair is wet with sweat. I know he and Daddy have probably been running laps. Our house, which is a ranch, has become an indoor track.
“We’re reading books!” my heart exclaims, as he peels away then sprints back toward his bedroom.
“Ok!” I say in his direction, and start to put down my bags. I put on my pajamas before I’m summoned for our nightly kiss and cuddle and back rub.
My heart is jogging beside me, along the path that circles the local lake. He is tiny but fast. People aren’t used to seeing such a small person running like this and neither am I. They cheer him on and he calls out, “hi!” as we pass.
“Good job, Mommy!” he says, then stops at the bench for a rest. And runs to the next bench for another rest. And the next…
My heart has been running laps around the crib for 45 minutes, singing a song composed mostly of nonsense and an intermittent, “AND THEN THEY CRASHED IT!” I watch him in the monitor: I am partly entertained, partly annoyed. Go to sleep, I say under my breath and he eventually does.
My heart is running away from me with a mischievous smirk when I tell him it’s time to change out of his diaper. “Let’s just get it over with,” I suggest. “No big deal,” I add, and he runs further out of my reach.
My heart is running away from me when it’s time to put on his socks and shoes for preschool. He wants me to catch him but I calmly refuse, my blood pressure silently mounting. When we finally get on his footwear, he says, “I bet I can get out to the car first!” and he takes off, out the front door, down the sidewalk. I’m not thrilled with this competitive tone, but am relieved we’re finally out of the house. He tags the car then turns around to me with a look of pride and glee.
My heart is running in an open field spotted with dandelions. His arms and legs are pumping, his straight hair bounces up and down, and his smile stretches across his entire face.
Maybe my heart will be on the track team, I think…Or the cross-country team, or maybe my heart will play lacrosse or soccer. At three-years-old, it is too early to tell. Maybe he won’t do any of these things.
Maybe my heart will one day run a marathon like his Daddy. Or run laps around a lake in order to stay in shape as he feels the effects of age starting to creep in. Maybe his own heart will run next to him.
My heart, god-willing, will out-live me. And will certainly out-run me.
My heart is running toward me down our long hallway, while I sit on the couch, my feet resting on the ottoman. Here comes that unmistakable pit-pat-pit-pat and I brace myself for the inevitable leap onto my lap.
I am glad, for now, that I am able to run with my heart, that I can still keep up.
So when he asks, “Want to go for a run Mommy?” I say yes, despite the fact that I feel tired and spent.
I put on my slippers. My heart and I run around the track that goes from the kitchen, through the front hall, and past the dining room. We take a break, fall down on the wooden floor, and drink some water.
“Let’s go!” my heart says. Then we get up and we run some more.