“Mum. Mum, I have a nosebleed.”
The baby’s wiry shadow stood by my bed, his hands clutching his nose.
“Are you okay?” I muttered, poking myself in the eye with my glasses as I pulled myself out of bed.
We stumbled to the bathroom and I assessed his nose. It wasn’t bleeding very badly. A few quick applications of pressure and he was back in bed.
I returned to my bed and nudged the husband’s knee out of my spot before curling my pillow back under my head and closing my eyes.
I expected to fall back to sleep immediately but instead a convention of worries began in my brain. All of the regular players were there: How Will We Ever Pay Our Student Loans showed up with Maybe We Should Try to Sell the House. Should I Get a Second Job on the Weekends came stumbling in followed by I’m a Terrible Parent, who promptly put the lampshade on her head and ended the night by peeing in the front yard and calling her best friend a bitch. Again.
These are all the kinds of things that are not affected whatsoever by worrying, especially not at 4:30 a.m., thereby making my worrying pointless and self-indulgent.
My body started to tense up the way that it does when I’m worrying like this. My jaw clenched, my shoulders rose, my legs wouldn’t relax. I whipped the covers off of me and went downstairs, feeling the need to direct the tension elsewhere.
I did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen a little bit, every few minutes poking my head through the blinds to see if there was any hint of daylight yet. A weird idea had crept into my unexpected, early morning housekeeping: go for a jog.
I had started jogging about 5 months ago and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. Or rather, I enjoyed how I felt when my jogs were over and found myself getting antsy on the days that I didn’t have that release.
Estimating that sunrise was only about 10 minutes away, I pulled on my jogging gear, grabbed my phone and my key, and quietly made my way outside.
I warmed up by walking down our quiet street and down toward the main drag where there was more light. The only other people that I saw were the bakers in the two bakeries along the way. They were busy making the morning’s treats, doughnut-scented traps that nearly lured me in.
Finally, at the end of the main drag, I broke into my run and immediately had to confront a small hill.
The run wasn’t easy. I’m not used to hills and the lingering darkness of the lazy dawn and my uncertainty of my timing had me a little worried. My only companion was the automated voice of my running application that told me how far I had gone.
But I kept going, up into the next neighborhood and very nearly into the one after that. On my way back, the sun was finally starting to blink its eyes open and emit that sleepy blue light. A few other runners and walkers were out by then. They all grinned at me as I huffed past them.
When I got back to my house, I was no richer than I had been, but I felt somehow lighter. I peeled off my sweaty clothes and rinsed my still sleepy muscles in the warm water, thinking maybe I could go on for one more day.