Just a few short years ago, the desire to take a walk around my neighborhood only required that I locate a pair of sneakers. Granted, sometimes that took some effort depending on the status of my closet, but for the most part, I could be striding along in a matter of minutes.
Then I added a dog and a baby to my life, and walks suddenly became a bit more tricky.
Getting out the door is an event in itself. I've considered slapping a sticky-note checklist on the wall so I don't forget anything: dog leash, plastic bag for any messes, stroller, blanket, burp cloth, toys, kitchen sink.
Up until last week, I had been too afraid to attempt controlling an overly enthusiastic puppy while maneuvering a stroller around jagged sidewalks without the help of my husband. At least with him, we're evenly matched -- two adults vs. two miniature volcanoes that could erupt at any time without warning.
But when the weather warmed to an irresistible 80 degrees, I suddenly decided I could handle it.
After rounding up the troops, we set off in a direction that I was familiar with. Things were going so well that I decided to keep going when I got to the spot we normally turn around and head back.
After another mile, which turned out to be mostly uphill, I suddenly realized I was on the opposite end of town and thoroughly exhausted. My lap dog, who is a few pounds overweight because he's an expert at convincing us he deserves treats, was nearly ready to collapse. He kept looking up at me with his tongue drooping out of his mouth as if to say, "OK, seriously -- where's the couch?"
Having both hands tied up with the stroller, I couldn't carry him, so I tried some verbal encouragement. "C'mon, buddy! You can do it. We're, um, well ... probably halfway."
I did my best to attempt a few shortcuts, but I only ended up forging up unexpected hills, which is no picnic when you're pushing around a 16-pound baby and all of her gear, not to mention that stroller wheels can suddenly lock up from a rogue piece of gravel.
Surprisingly, going downhill isn't any easier. My arm muscles were so strained that it took every ounce of willpower to prevent my daughter from careening solo to level ground.
By the time we got back to the house, my dog and I couldn't get water fast enough. He headed straight for his bowl and I almost stuck my head directly under a faucet. Thankfully, my little lady had been lulled to sleep from the marathon, so I just wheeled her into the living room where I collapsed.
The couch never felt so good. Normally I would never flop down when I was sweaty for fear of ruining the fabric over time, but at that moment, I didn't even care. I could've been covered in tar and I still wouldn't have given it a second thought.
Eventually, my dog clunked down with a thud beside me.
As we sat there, I couldn't help thinking about what I could've done differently.
Then it hit me.
I needed to add one more thing to my list of going-on-a-walk essentials: a cell phone to call for a taxi.