“Mommy, I know what’s making me cough. It’s my mouth water. My spit.”

She probably means her throat, or maybe post-nasal drip. She’d been coughing all night–a dry little barky cough that meant she had a touch of something and that no one was going to sleep much that night.

So I got out of bed at 6. When I heard her coughing again at 6:15, I said she could get up and watch some TV.

All this is so fantastically ordinary. For the next banal drama, should she stay home from school?

I did not want her to stay home from school. I was very very eager for her to go back to school. She’s had a three day weekend and I was tired of the age-typical games of “I am the boss of you, mommy, and you must do everything I say while I criticize and berate you. It’s pretend!”

Get out of my house. Go somewhere safe and beneficial and let me get something important done.

So I left her to have my morning run, enjoying apple juice and streamed PBS programming.

As I pushed my legs up the hill just like every morning, I felt guilt that I wanted to get away from her. I thought about the horrible TV show I just watched, a period piece, where the little daughter suddenly caught sick and even more suddenly died. How horrified and angry I was and still am at the moralistic tone. The TV mom took a moment for herself while the kid was with the grandparents, but because she didn’t drive the nails HARD ENOUGH to keep her securely on her crucifix she killed her daughter by her sin of trying to have a her own life.

It’s not fair!

It’s also not fair that this run that I do every day isn’t easier. Shouldn’t it count that I run these steps every morning? I’m still the same slow I’ve been since I started.

My daughter is not going to die. As I try to take longer or faster strides up this hill, I try to lay my mother fears to rest. Yes, children do die of illness. It is rare in my time and place, thank God, and highly unlikely. I can lay that worry down. It’s not helpful. I can trust my child’s attentive and caring teacher to notice and send her home if it is serious.

I may not get to that tree much faster than I do every day. Or maybe I did get there faster today. Is this the part of my playlist that is usually playing? Maybe I am a little faster today.

It’s only 15 minutes of running. I spent the same amount of time reading my emails and Facebook before I rousted myself to put the workout clothes on.

Ow. My knee has a crick. Keep running. It will work itself out.

I had just read on my computer yet another one of the free downloads for success at one of my projects. Yet another. Something about this one was kinda different though.

Was it really that easy? Could I just churn it out, like that?

Maybe success–or its synonym, progress–really is yeoman’s work. I keep wanting a jetpack, but it’s not like that. Maybe it is just one thing after the other, lifting my knees up the hill.

Lifting my knees even though there is a screaming banshee in my head of all the other things that I could be doing better or different.

I could do it better, I’m sure. But doing it at all is the real marker of progress. There will always be a banshee. The trick is not to mind.

When I got back home, I took my daughter’s temperature. She’s normal. No mercy, kid. Sorry you have a cough, but you gotta go to school. There’s the life lesson. Show up.

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