I had a great mom growing up, and I am fortunate enough to still have her around to turn to for support. I consider her to be very influential in how I do my own parenting. There are many instances I find myself following her example. She was always there for me and my three brothers. She supported us in many things we wanted to try. She did crafts with us, helped us with homework, monitored what we watched on TV, games we played, and the friends with which we spent our time. She was a room mom and frequently chaperoned field trips, scout outings, and camping. She carted us to and from sporting events, dance lessons, music lessons, karate lessons, art classes, girl scouts, boy scouts, movies, and birthday parties. She hauled us to and from friends’ houses and often catered to a house full of our friends.
Once I had a birthday sleepover consisting of 15 of my “closest” teenage girlfriends. While juggling all of these things, she packed our school lunches, made dinner for us almost every night, handled mass quantities of laundry, and we even had a large yard with a garden. Eventually she also worked outside the home. She was an excellent role model. I truly believed that was what being a mom was all about. The role of a mom is to take care of her family. Right?
I often found myself wondering how on earth she managed to do it all. To this day, she is still juggling many things including often helping with my nephew and my own son. My grandpa now lives with my parents as well.
She is always taking care of everyone, that is, everyone but herself. I never see her doing anything for herself. This was not something I noticed right away. I often hear her say she does not have time to exercise. She does not have time to eat breakfast in the morning. She does not have time to do a craft. She does not have time to read a book. The list goes on and on. In short, she does not have time for herself. Reflecting on the many times I heard her say this when I was growing up, I have some guilt that I had unconsciously decided that is just what moms do.
Every mom wants what is best for their children. We love our children unconditionally. I don’t believe you would run into any moms intentionally teaching their kids that everyone else is more important than they are and that they should neglect their own needs. Yet, in essence, by sacrificing everything for our kids, that is exactly what we teach them the role of a parent is. Perhaps generation after generation, that is why we find ourselves in a world of children who want and expect everything.
As I said, I did not come to this realization right away. It was during a conversation with a health conscientious friend about my own struggles to find time to exercise let alone actually eat a meal that she pointed out to me that by not finding time, the example I was setting to my son was that other things were more important than my own health. She questioned how I could teach my son the importance of eating right and exercise if I was not taking the time to do it for myself. I pondered it over for some time, thinking about what she was actually saying to me and reflecting on what I had seen my own mom doing. I vaguely recall her going to aerobics classes when I was really little, but with four active kids, that stopped long ago. I knew she still had a bike in the garage, but the last time I could remember her ride it, I was small enough to sit in a carrier on the back. We used to do crafts together, but that had stopped as we got older. Had I really thought she was only doing those things for us? Had I failed to notice that she may have once done those things because she enjoyed them too but no longer had the time?
Without making any lifestyle changes, some time passed. As we all know, serious life changes are usually only made after a collaboration of influences. Upon going for a physical for a job, I found out my cholesterol was high. The doctor talked to me about needing to make changes. It was stuff I already knew, but I had not yet put any plan into action. It is funny though, how what we won’t do for ourselves, we will often do for others.
One night, I found myself having a telephone conversation with a long time friend. She was telling me how she was trying to find someone to run in a 10K with her in support of her community, but no one was willing. She was not someone who I would have considered athletic, super fit, or competitive, so I did not find myself intimidated by her offer. Knowing that I needed to make changes and knowing that it was a year and a half away, on whim, I said I would do it with her.
After hanging up the phone, I told my husband what I had agreed to do. Chuckles followed. Panic stricken, I decided to look up exactly how many miles were in a 10K. In case you are wondering yourself, it is a little over 6.2 miles. Thus began my journey of redefining myself as a mom, role model for my son that taking care of oneself is important. Please continue to follow as I share my journey and transformation as a mom in future posts.