Take a Walk

My Facebook status from earlier this afternoon:

Going got tough at the house…so I am now keeping a chair warm with an afternoon tea— at Starbucks.

I posted it at about 5:15 and did not return to the confines of my home for a full two hours.  It was not my original intent.  In fact, before I left, I gave Jessie the option (which I was forced to snap at her hastily in the split second during which she took a breath in order to have the lung capacity to continue yelling at me) to either take a walk or I was going to.  She, with no hesitation, told me that it was I who should take a walk.  (“Yeah, maybe you should go” were her exact words.) I agreed,  pulled my boots back on and headed out the door.  Fortunately I had my wits about me enough to grab a few bucks as I walked out the door (with just a trace of a dramatic flair) with plans to purchase a cup of tea at the nearby Starbuck’s and return home: ten minutes round trip.

Once I got into the café, however, and was assaulted by the intoxicating smell of coffee and good-looking, yet tasteless baked goods, I knew I had no choice but to warm the big leather chair by the front window…even if just for a moment.  I remained in my scarf and jacket feeling only slightly bitter about the draft seeping in through the glass, holding my hot cup of tea up to my cheek the way my mother always does.  I then prayed for calm.

It was just one of those weeks.  I like to blame it on the time change, but I am unsure as to the factuality of that.*  I have been alternatively giddy, content, sad, angry, overwhelmed, energetic, exhausted, hopeful and resigned.  I have changed moods on a less than hourly basis.  So, too, has my youngest child.  (Harrison, on the other hand, has been steady as he goes all week.)  I cannot even put my finger on it, but Jessie’s flip out earlier (over something too benign, ridiculous and irritating to even mention) escalated quickly, in part because I was in no mood to sit back and observe a steady ascent so might have gotten a bit feistier a bit more quickly than normal.  It is a discussion (and I use that term extremely loosely) which we have had innumerable times (in the past three days, that is) and the conclusion she desired was simply an impossibility.  In anticipation of the energy I knew it would require talking her off the ledge, I got my back up more quickly than usual.  And then I had to walk away.


As the hot tea began to warm my body, I consciously adjusted my breathing and commenced to people watching.  I quickly grew bored but knew that returning home was not an option yet.  So, like any warm-blooded middle-aged woman in the same situation would, I hopped onto Facebook and updated my status, secretly hoping that some of my local peeps would come to my rescue and, if nothing else, share in a late afternoon tea.  Alas, they were all doing what people normally do at that hour: shuttling the kids, or making dinner, or driving home from work and not, as I was, doing Yoga breathing amid coffee beans and tea leaves.

I have learned to adjust to the fact that my life has changed a lot in the past year or so.  I went from being a married mom of two boys, to a separated mom of one boy and one girl.  I cut my long hair and (briefly) let the gray grow in.  I started a new job while giving up Diet Coke and coffee.**  And I learned to go take a walk when the going gets tough.

*I am not even sure that factuality is a word, but it works.  So there.

**Full disclosure: At the beginning of the year I decided that I was going to give up Diet Coke, coffee and booze.  Oh, well.

32 thoughts on “Take a Walk

  1. Diet Coke, coffee AND booze?? whew. Tall order there, sister. 🙂

    This time change is ruining my world. Seriously. When will I stop thinking “Well, it SHOULD only be 9:37”?? Sigh…

  2. You sure don’t have it easy and to most of us,you are handling it so well!I was waiting to hear how it went upon returning home….

  3. Oh gosh, Julie. Sounds like SO much has changed for you in the last year. I also have kids in these age ranges and also escalate yelling when I know I shouldn’t and then later feel like I am the worst parent ever. It is so, so, so hard. Raising toddlers is a thousand times easier. And I also think you can’t minimize the impact of separation with your partner on how kids react–you’re left with a double burden of your reaction and their reaction and no one to share the hard part with. Sending hugs. Katy (MI)

    • See, here’s the thing: I had two IMPOSSIBLE toddlers. I am talking legendary. To this day, people who knew Harrison as a toddler are dumbfounded at what a wonderful kid he is now. I would never, in a million years, use toddler and easy in the same breathe. LOL

      • Oh my gosh, so sorry. I had one high-maintenance toddler (now a high-maintenance teen) and they are tough. But Harrison is giving me hope for mine!

  4. No matter how you feel I think you are an incredibley strong woman. I have no kids to pick up or take anywhere I will meet you any time..

    • True. I have to learn to RSVP “no”. (Aside: my father always told me that when one finds themselves in a confrontation or uncomfortable situation the best thing to do is to not say a word. It is a very difficult thing to do, but it does, as he assured me it would, throw the other person off their game.)

      • It’s the hardest thing to do sometimes, I have to remind myself of that all the time when I feel myself getting pulled into an argument.

  5. I feel for you. Very glad you could just walk out. It’s really nice to have a haven to go to in that moment, despite the draft. I would hate to have to drive around without somewhere to go because I would stay in my head and just get more and more angry and wound up. I think.
    I kind of expected Jessie to show some chagrin on your return for being walked out of, but I guess not. Jessie comes across as having a very strong personality!
    (I wanted to recommend a technique re ‘command voice’ by I think Dr Tanya Byron, a UK child psychologist, but of course I can’t find a reference right now, duh. Probably wouldn’t have been all that useful). Hopefully your father’s advice well come in handy when there’s more ‘discussion’!
    Giving up soft drinks is great, but coffee? My main addiction, how do you manage? (And let’s not expect the impossible from ourselves re booze… Something like a white wine spritzer is lovely, and not too calorific).
    Sending you lots of hugs.

    • Thanks, Giselle. Just the other night I called a girlfriend, told her to pour me a glass of wine and appeared at her door 90 seconds later. I am over the giving up wine part.

  6. My dear, how I would have LOVED to join you at Starbucks to escape my own crazy world and share a laugh – a groan – a sob. I could identify so completely and thoroughly with your experience. I want to runaway FREQUENTLY. Sometimes I manage to escape for a bit, but too often the situation is even worse when I return home; and whatever solace I had during my break is completely gone within moments of arruving back on the battlefield. So overwhelming.

    • That is why you need to call before you go home! (Aside: when the kids were little and we would have a babysitter, it was a hard and fast rule that we would not return home without absolute verification that they were asleep. Many a night we drove around in circles until we got the okay to come home!)

  7. So, the finger you could not put on it was neither that of the warrior or the worrier. I guess that the walker finger would be the one in-between, then?
    Factuality is a word, according to LexiConnnie, and one that I find to be quite satisfactual, at that. 😉

  8. Julie, there is an article in the March 18 New Yorker  Magazine about a transgender FTM ( see, I’m picking up the lingo) that you may want to read.


  9. I knew your husband many many moons ago….I came across your blog.. not sure how.I commend you and symphathize with you at the same time. I raised a gay daughter….which is by no means the same…but has its challenges. Keep your chin up

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