A man that I know is hiking the perimeter of Texas and recording his journey through Tweets, Facebook, news articles and his blog http://www.texasperimeterhike.blogspot.com. I highly recommend perusing his blog as it's a very good read and I in particular enjoy the vicarious position it puts me in. But it is this vicariousness that prompts me to write this blog now.
I am choosing to live vicariously through someone who is, essentially, going for a walk. A very long walk, granted, and one full of any kind of danger the modern mind can conceive of (and even the not so modern - a panther's scream in the night, anyone?) but a walk, still. Ever since having children, I have become annoyingly aware of the freedom I no longer have in my life. Going for a walk, which used to be a sort of whimsical desire that took nothing more than putting on some shoes and socks, grabbing a jacket or coat (depending on the weather) and going out the door, is now a process. I have the following to consider:
Have the boys eaten recently? If not, will they get hungry in the middle of the walk?
How long will I be gone and how far should I go?
Will we be gone long enough to justify schlepping along a gigantic diaper bag full of snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes, and changes of clothing?
Where did I put the damn stroller?
How warmly should I dress the boys?
Will Ben get too tired to walk? Ethan can sleep in the stroller but I don't relish the idea of dragging a cranky toddler down the road.
How bad will the traffic be on the chosen course? (Something I should have worried about when I was "alone" but nothing makes you aware of mortality like your own children.)
Slogging through these worries and others like them, the whimsy of the thought "I'd like to go for a walk" gets thoroughly crushed. However, I am not arguing that children take the whimsy out of life. Only as a parent can you push a cart down the aisles in the grocery store while cheerfully pointing out colors in an animated voice: "Green! See green? And BLUE! Do you like blue? I like blue." Or carry on a conversation consisting of an exchange of delighted, punctuated grunts : "Dah! Bah! Gah! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmah!" I suppose you can try this without children in tow but be prepared for public scrutiny and wayward glances. Having kids with you means that you can spontaneously skip, hop, sing, or dance. But you can't just go for a walk.