Some days I’m just not feeling it. I don’t feel excited to be alive, grateful for my charmed existence, or anything at all good.

The feelings that fill the gap are often an irreconcilable combination of lethargy and restlessness – like oil and water, they slosh around in my chest, continuously rubbing up against each other and refusing to let me settle to anything. They make me distracted and irritable. Impatient. Frustrated. Grumpy.

I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do with these feelings is to take them for a walk. Not metaphorically, but literally. The other morning, finding myself in such a mental state, I did just that. I stuck a hat on Arty’s head, grabbed my bag, and headed out the door. Restlessness and lethargy, who are apparently all about the FOMO, followed along.

Arty was feeling neither of those things that morning. His mood was bright, and his frame of mind inquisitive. For him, our walk wasn’t about trying to shake anything off, it was just about seeing what we could see. Slowly.

I held his chubby little hand, and hurried him along the footpath. Every half block my arm would be yanked almost out of its socket when he’d plant his feet firmly to stop and observe something. A yellow flower. A bottle top. A sock that someone had put on a fence post.

I was desperately trying to outrun my grumps, and this kid kept letting them catch us up. I was exasperated, and he was starting to notice. I was letting him feel my crappy mood, which was a dick parenting move, and one of which I was duly ashamed.

That shame joined restlessness and lethargy in the conga line of fail that I was trying to outpace, and I redoubled my efforts, striding along as fast as I could without leaving my shorter legged companion behind.

Then. Inevitably: YANK!

“Arty!”

“What?”

“You have got to stop yanking my arm like that. It hurts!”

“But I need you to stop, it’s berry important!”

To my further shame I allowed an extremely doubtful tone to infuse my words when I said, “oh yeah?”

“Yes!” he insisted, earnestly.

He let go of my hand, backtracked a few steps and picked something up off the ground.

“It’s a weally weally good stick!”

half a stick by mama finch

He was right. When you’re three-and-a-half, a weally weally good stick is very important. Even my grumpy impatient brain could accept this incontrovertible human truth.

He walked back towards me, holding the stick out in front of him to show me it’s excellent proportions.

It was a weally weally good stick.

When he reached my side, he looked at it for a moment, and then immediately snapped it in half.

“What did you do that for?” I asked. He held out half of the stick to me.

“So then there’s half for you and half for me.”

He took my hand again. We walked on, each clutching our half of the stick. Our pace was much more reasonable.

All of a sudden, I had nothing left to outrun.