A dead rat was certainly not something I expected early in the morning as I stumbled through the house as quietly as I could to get to the gym and back before the kids woke up.
I had started a new exercise regime, hitting the gym or running on the nearby park trails. With small children, a regular exercise routine was challenging, to say the least. I’d tried popping in an exercise DVD or two, but the little ones thought it was a game. They’d sit on my stomach as I tried to do sit-ups, run between my legs when I tried yoga, and I won’t even go into the trauma of kick-boxing.
Desperate, I was determined to get back in shape, whatever it took. So, I went to bed pretty early each night, much to my husband’s chagrin, and woke up in the wee hours of the morning. I snuck around the house, getting running shoes on, locating my MP3 player and filling my water bottle before tiptoeing out the front door and down the driveway. For over three weeks, my new routine was working. My husband was home, asleep but home, in case the children woke up early, but usually I was back just as everyone was waking up. I’d then make breakfast, shower, and be ready for the day. I was overjoyed and starting to see some success on the scale.
And then, the day of the dead rat. I kept the house dark as I got ready to go running, because I knew every inch, every step of my home. I skillfully remembered where toys had been carelessly left the night before and kept myself from loudly kicking toy cars and trains across the floor. I would usually remember the last place the children were playing with my MP3 player, and could find it even in the darkness. But, when my shoe-clad foot stepped on something unusual in the kitchen, I couldn’t figure out what it was. It had some give, but there was a soft crack as my full body weight bore down on it. I took two steps to the pantry, figuring I’d turn the pantry light on and partially close the door so I could determine what I’d stepped on without waking anyone up.
I turned on the light, stepped out of the pantry and closed the door half-way. I looked down at the floor, and my mind couldn’t process what I was seeing. Was this a child’s doll? Some leftover food that had fallen on the floor during one of my husband’s late-night fridge raid? In the partial shadows, I could see something glistening around it, but just couldn’t quite figure out the mysterious shape and substance.
Stepping closer, I stooped down and got really close. My hand automatically reached out to scoop it up, but luckily my brain stopped my hand before contact was made. “Dead Rat!” my brain screamed, and I jerked back. My daily efforts of maintaining complete silence in the early morning hours paid off, and I’m proud to say I didn’t even shout out. Instead, I yanked off my shoes, scooted back across the floor and sat there until my hands stopped shaking. My mind raced, and I decided I would take care of calling in a professional rat exterminator, because where there’s one rat, there’s probably more. I also decided to let my husband sleep in a little before making him clean up the mess.