By: Cheryl Maguire
“Do you want to go for a walk?”
That was the gajillionth (yes that’s a real word, at least according to Urban Dictionary) time one of my 16 year old daughter asked me that question, and it was only two months into the pandemic. Everyone in our neighborhood was doing the same ‘walk for sanity,’ since we saw many of them for the first time strolling down our sidewalk.
“Who are all these people?” my neighbor asked.
“I’ve never seen any of them, and we have lived here for twenty years,” I responded.
They were either trying to escape the confinements of their house or investigating if the next Tiger King persona was lurking nearby—either one is a distinct possibility, but we all know they were hoping to see the next Tiger King round the corner. I mean, when you think about it, who really knows their neighbors? Obviously, not me since I recognized more people in NYC Time Square than I did sauntering through our streets.
As we walked more miles than Cheryl Strayed did on the Pacific Crest Trail, I couldn’t help but harken back to those early years when I used to escape my house. When I was a young, exhausted mother of twin toddlers—who could fall asleep standing up—daily walks around the neighborhood were sometimes the only time I changed out of my PJs and into yoga pants (but who am I kidding—we both know that is one in the same). It was the only time I saw the blue sky or remembered what it was like to breathe in fresh air that didn’t smell like a combination of diaper cream and Cheerios. My kids seemed to like getting out of the house, too, since they always asked to go for a walk and willingly remained seated during it.
I have been asked countless times, “Is it hard being a mom of twins?”
Um…it depends…would you consider it hard to run in two opposite directions at the same time? Well, that is a necessary skill when you have twin toddlers that are faster than a combination of Speedy Gonzales and the Road Runner, with a little bit of Taz’s spinning and grunting thrown in—you would have to be a cartoon character to catch up with them. And that is exactly why every day I would strap them into their double-wide stroller and walk around the block.
In those early days, my daughter would say, “Walky, walky,” motioning towards the door.
A typical stroll consisted of filling their snack tray with enough fruit snacks and goldfish that a doomsday prepper would feel envious. Then my daughter (who has the potential to be said prepper) would swipe a majority of her twin brother’s stash. It was like witnessing an episode of Planet Earth demonstrating how Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” works in the wild.
“Flag,” my son would say.
His obsession was to point out every flag he spied. I remember the week before the fourth of July. I was fully prepared to hear the word flag at least a gajillion times, give or take one or two.
“Bunny rabbit,” my daughter would say, pointing to a small stone figurine of a rabbit situated in an unknown neighbor’s yard.
“Want some?” she once inquired to the stone rabbit with a hand extended filled with fruit snacks.
Two things popped into my mind when I heard her query; my first thought is, have we really become so isolated that we are now conversing with inanimate objects? And my second (and more pressing) deduction was that she just offered the fruit snacks that she stole from her brother to an inanimate object.
Since that was the most excitement I had seen in at least a gajillion days, I decided to have some fun.
“That is so nice of you to share your fruit snacks. I’ll push you right up next to Mr. Bunny so that you can make sure he gets all of your fruit snacks,” I said, wondering if she would part with her precious pilfered stash, or if she found a new place to store her goods.
“He said he is full,” she retorted.
I definitely did not see that one coming. Well-played, young padawan. Game, set, match—you won.
Fast forward to this year, during one of our recent pandemic sanity walks, I noticed our friend Mr. Bunny. Despite my twins being almost my size today, Mr. Bunny has remained the same small stature, although he is somewhat weathered—I can relate.
My daughter no longer eats fruit snacks or sits in a stroller, but she still out-wits me on a regular basis. I can only imagine the humor stories she will write about me one day.
On a recent walk, I pointed out our friend Mr. Bunny, and my daughter turned to me and asked, “How many times do you think we have passed by him over the years?”
“At least a gajillion, give or take one or two.”