My son is six months old. People said blink and he’ll be in kindergarten, but I didn’t believe them.
Somehow, five seconds after the hospital gave us our discharge papers and sent us on our way, I have a 19-pound ball of love who joins me for runs and smiles on command. Jack’s eyes are the color of blueberries, and his fuzzy, reddish hair shines like gold in the sunlight. He goes to all of my book signings (he’s my biggest fan). He has a favorite toy and a best friend at school. I look around my house, with its white furniture, china and glass, and kick myself because I haven’t started childproofing yet. I see parents kicking a soccer ball with their kids and imagine teaching mine how to dribble and pass and make overlapping runs.
I’m a creative and a planner — an odd blend of sketchpads and poetry, Excel spreadsheets and productivity apps. I view life as one long story, and I’m always writing a couple of chapters at a time. I want to be ready for the next milestone, the next first, the next step in the journey.
But I also want to live in the now. I want to see it and hear it and smell it and feel it. I want to hold my son and feel the soft, warm puffs on my collarbone when he snuggles up to me long after we should both be in bed. I want to talk to him about things he learns at school — alligators and the color green, triangles and the number three. I want to take him on walks and leave my earbuds and my phone at home and tell him about the clouds and the trees and the birds and watch his face light up with each new sight and sound, all so exciting and wondrous because he’s seeing and hearing them for the first time.
I have three manuscripts in my head and a five-month-old published book to promote. (Still don’t have your copy of “Run to the Light?” Get it here.) Twenty-nine states and a rare disease charity to run. I can’t get to it all, even though I sleep just five hours a night and work through lunch most days.
But I want to live guilt-free, even if I don’t clean my house or run 15 miles or write 1,000 words a day. I want to look at my son and succumb to that smile. I want to give him the mother he needs, even if I can’t always be the writer and runner and rare disease advocate I want to be. And if I succeed, real life may be my best story of all.