I hate how my muscles hurt when I start, how the stretching hurts and pulls and how it’s really impossible to warm up until I’ve already started.
And then I start, and that hurts too. All of a sudden, the workout that seemed short on paper stretches out long, long, long in front of me, and I wonder how I can take all those steps or lift all that weight.
Stiffness wears off, and there’s a small part in the middle where I actually feel good, where it hurts but in a good way, and I can think about getting stronger and healthier and how that’s good for all of us.
But that crashes into the end, which sometimes starts in the middle or even towards the middle of the beginning, and the rest is completed only by focusing on the finish, by wanting to not just be done, but to have done it all.
The end, though, the end is blessed. The end is endorphins and a sense of accomplishment and that mixed feeling of achievement and relief. The end is the being done and the knowing that I did it all.
The end, that end, is why I begin in the first place. It’s the reason for the pain, the motivation that keeps me starting and then keeps me going. I want that end, because it is good enough to make the pain worth it.
The end even transforms the beginning. When it’s all done, the beginning, that painful beginning, was simply part of something very, very good. It wasn’t entirely pleasant, but it was a necessary step to get to the end.
If I quit in the middle, the whole thing would just suck. I probably wouldn’t even start more than once or twice, because it just wouldn’t be worthwhile. Once I reach the end, though, the whole thing is a big, huge good, a high point of every day, sometimes even a touchstone for whether the day was good or bad.
When I first became a mother, things were mostly hard. It was hard with moments of glory, but the hard outweighed the glory by quite a lot.
There’s a million reasons for that. Learning to parent is hard. Massive and traumatic upheaval in life is hard, even without a newborn. Having doctors who don’t listen and who say insensitive and uncaring things is hard.
The reasons don’t really matter, though. It was hard. It was so hard that I couldn’t even let myself say how hard it was for a lot of months. If I had let it hurt like that, I don’t know that I’d have made it through.
The second baby was easier, but two together was the hard part then. I didn’t hardly get to the point where I’d moved beyond treading water when I was pregnant again.
Baby number three, and having three, has been a glory and a terror. But this time, even though she was another baby and we moved twice in 4 and a half months and there were three of them, the glory has successfully lightened the darkness.
Changing the past is almost always the bane of time travelers. They erase themselves, or change things for the worse when they think they’re changing them for the best, or they make some drastic change when they think they’re making tiny tweaks.
I’ve seen “Back to the Future.”
And yet we think about changing the past and wonder if it could be done because, in the end, we’d really like to do it. Mostly, I think we want to undo wrongs we’ve done, to undo our own momentary stupidity,e specially when that has had massive and unforeseen results.
We want to transform our choices, even when we didn’t know they were choices at the time. And we want to turn the bad into good, to bend a few things and stretch a few others so that things don’t hurt as bad, for ourselves and for those close to us.
If only there was a way to do that that didn’t get us all twisted up in time and consequences.
I held Arden on my lap today. Dear, nearly-one-year-old Arden. And I thought about how fast it’s gone, as mothers are wont to do. And then I found myself wishing, for just the smallest split of a second, that we could go back a little bit, that this first year could have been stretched, somehow, so she could still grow but we’d have a little more time with each stage of her.
I don’t think I’ve wished that before. If I did, the split second was too small for me to notice.
But I wished it today.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking strange things, and wonder where in the world that came from, or what is wrong with you that you would even think something like that?
Sometimes I wonder if time travel isn’t something really easy, something simpler than flight, something we’ve all missed.
Or maybe, if we were just a little different, we could travel through time but traveling through the air would still be impossible.
Having Arden and completing this first year with her and with three has been a big finish for me. The beginning was still hard. The baby and the trauma and the anxiety and that awful doctor are still bad memories.
But now they are part of something good. Now they are part of something exhilarating.
I’m nowhere near done, but I sense that the part that feels like a dead sprint most of the time is coming to an end. I sense that there will be time to catch my breath, time to breathe and, at least, realize that I am breathing, time to appreciate what we’ve actually done in these last four-and-a-half years of tearing around the track as fast as we can, every single day.
I’ve had just a moment or two to survey our handiwork, and it is good. It is good.
It was always good.
That beginning, that hard, hard beginning, was necessary to get here. Being here transforms that beginning, not because I don’t remember the pain, but because I followed it to see where it would go.
It’s not a gain in understanding, or a change in perspective. The end, quite literally, has changed the beginning into a different sort of thing.
It’s not exactly redemption, either. That beginning has become something other than what it was before, a different sort of experience, because I have now reached the end of this season.
You don’t have to believe me. Time travel is, after all, the stuff of the most theoretical of theoretical study. But I have done it – I have successfully changed the past, my past, events I lived through.
Maybe I’m crazy. Or maybe we’ve been going about it all wrong.