A few days ago, I did something out of the ordinary, especially for these socially distant times: I got out. Out, as in someplace other than the grocery store or nearby nature trail. Out, as in…my annual gynecologic appointment.
A part of me—admittedly, a very teensy-tinsy part—was somewhat looking forward to this diversion from my nine-weeks-and-counting insta-stay-at-home, homeschooling routine. “Is this really as good as it gets?” I wondered in a text to a friend beforehand, half joking—half not—as I pictured an examination room with female-anatomical drawings for artwork and latex gloves galore. Talk about ambiance.
As any good friend would, she replied with words of encouragement (and an “Lol!”).
Now, this kind of wellness checkup is supposed to be annual, but the last time I saw my doctor was…not last year. I’m fairly good about making regular doctor’s and dentist’s appointments for my daughters; I could be better with my own health.
Earlier this year, however, I learned an old classmate of mine had passed away from cervical cancer. She also had young children. We hadn’t spoken in years, but I felt very sad for her and her family. All of this was a wake-up call to me, and prompted me to make my (belated) appointment.
The day of my appointment, I began feeling stressed. What if something turned out to be wrong with me? What if, while I was out at a health facility, I somehow contracted COVID-19? I had also found out I needed to go to my doctor’s main medical office, in downtown Albany, rather than her neighborhood office that I could simply walk to in my suburban town, and I worried about where to park (I do not love city driving, as many of you know).
“Leave snacks for us, Mom,” Grace and Anna helpfully said, as I began getting ready for my big adventure. “And remember you said we could have screen time while you’re gone?”
Right-o. I sighed.
Stanton was nearby and glanced over at me. “Mel…the girls and I will drive you over, OK? And we’ll pick you back up when you’re done.”
“Honey.” I shook my head at him, knowing how busy he was with work. “That sounds like a waste of your time.”
“It sounds like a good use of my time,” Stanton replied, even-keeled as always.
In that moment, friends…I don’t think I ever loved him more. #littlethings
Talk about ambiance.
These days, it really has been all about the little things.
Recently, Grace was talking on the phone with my mom. I overheard my 8-year-old bragging, “My mom bought paints at the grocery store, and they were the last ones.”
It was true: I was delighted to find the last six-pack of washable paint at the grocery store (currently out of stock online). Once I got home and unpacked it, the girls oohed and aahed over the little bottles of purple, red, yellow, blue, green and orange. “Let’s have some fun painting,” I said, pulling out paintbrushes and construction paper, filling a bowl with water.
Ten solid minutes later…the painting fun had come and gone.
“Now what do we do, Mom?”
What to do, indeed. A common question posed to the activities director of Team Leddy.
Nevertheless, this isn’t unique. Many a mom is her family’s activities director, right? Pandemic or no pandemic, many moms fill this role (along with myriad other roles).
In addition to the 10 minutes of painting, our new activities have included putting together a 300-piece puzzle that I picked up, curbside, from the wonderful folks at I Love Books and exploring a new part of the Rail Trail.
My family and I love the Rail Trail. We so appreciate the ability to simply take a scenic walk or bike ride, steps from our front porch. The Rail Trail, however, runs for nine miles, unfolding between downtown Albany and the village of Voorheesville. For years now, we had only walked and biked on the three miles closest to our home.
“Do you know what we should do?” I said the other weekend, shaking my head at both the simplicity of the idea and the three-year time frame it took me to think of it. “We should check out the other parts of the Rail Trail.”
Grace was instantly on board. “I love that you’re so adventure-y, Mom,” she said.
I gave her a hug. “Thanks, honey.”
“Adventure-y,” of course, is a relative term. Check out a new section of a nature trail? Count me in. Navigate city streets, with their alternating one-way roads and penchant for parallel parking? Cue a mini panic attack.
That weekend, Stanton, the girls and I did love experiencing several new miles of the Rail Trail together. We really look forward to going back again soon.
When I’m outdoors these days, I usually don’t wear a face mask. I can pretty easily keep six feet between myself and those around me. Indoors at grocery stores (or doctor’s offices), I do wear one, per New York State and CDC guidelines. I’ve also noticed that major retailers like Gap, Anthropologie and Madewell have been selling (and selling out of) face masks on their websites.
So much has changed, so quickly. I don’t think I’ve processed everything that’s happened these past couple of months, or mourned the things that have been lost. When all this winds down (whenever it does), I think I’ll probably need to take a moment and, simply, cry.
There’s a time for everything, and it’s important to acknowledge sadness as well as the good times we want to memorialize in family photo albums and online profiles. I recognize this. For me, though, now is not the time to cry. Like so many of us, I just have so much to do.
Later, though. Definitely later, friends.
…shaking my head at both the simplicity of the idea and the three-year time frame it took me to think of it.
During one of my recent Rail Trail treks, I was walking on the right side of the path, as a wrinkled, white-haired woman on the left passed me by. I smiled, nodded. She was wearing a face mask, but pulled it down to smile back at me.
Then this lady gave me a thumbs-up and said, “Keep going!”
This little old lady and her wonderfully positive attitude totally moved me, friends. I don’t know why; it was just one of those “little things.” “I will,” I replied, a little choked up. Then I added, “You too!”
“Oh, I will,” she said. She pulled her face mask back up and, sure enough, kept on going.
When I’m old, I’d love to be as active and affirmative as this woman I happened to meet, for just a moment, on the Rail Trail that day.
There are times to cry. Times to celebrate. Times to wake up and go to the doctor for an annual wellness visit.
And in the best and worst of times, I believe we always should keep going.
Photo credit: Pixabay
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