A Walk With Winston

Winston Sullivan

"Mommy, I have a great idea. After school, you can pick me up and we can walk to town and get some ice cream."

My 4-year-old son, Winston, says this nearly every day during our morning commute.

It sounds so Mayberry, doesn't it? 

Mind you, my family lives in a suburb of DC that has 1 million people and growing. And my husband and I live a pretty hectic life (as do most parents, I think). We both work outside the home and our days start early and end late. 

But at least once a week, I catch an early train home from work and pick up Winston from his pre-school. We walk a half a mile or so on a great path where we give a "thumbs up" to every bike rider wearing a helmet (I know, I am dooming this child to the life of a safety geek). 

When we get into town, the first stop is ice cream (his current favorite is chocolate, chocolate chip with gummy bears). We fuel up, then head to the playground or the fountain, where Winston empties my pockets and we proceed to trade fanciful wishes until the coins runs out (his current favorites are, “I wish I had my own toy store” and “I wish I had a pool with dolphins in it”).

I have to be honest, sometimes these walks are dreadful. I'm tired, Winston's tired, it's hot, it's cold, and, now that I'm expecting our second child, that half mile walk can seem like a marathon.

But more often than not, these walks are magical. We find cool rocks; we see mice scurrying along the canal; we pet sweet puppies and talk about getting a dog; we swap stories about our day; we sing; we shout "echo" under the bridge. 

So much of parenting is logistics: meals, getting dressed, nap time, bath time, bedtime. When I think about unstoppable moms, I think about the little things we all inevitably do each day to make sure our kids are healthy and safe. 

Yet these experiences with Winston also help me realize that perhaps the best tip for being “unstoppable” is to do just the opposite: Stop. Savor the walks into town, the wishes at the fountain, and even the sticky ice cream hands. Soon my son will be more interested in his friends and his hobbies and his morning requests for a walk after school with his mom will likely fade away – even if I hope they never do.

But for now, I have to take my own advice. There's a little boy eagerly awaiting a walk into town.