Why I Take My Kids To The Gym With Me
About twice a week after I pick my “big” kids up from school, I drag them to the gym with me. And while a little piece of me feels incredibly guilty for making them sit in the little side room or playroom that my gym has that really is very tiny because it's a small gym, I tell myself that it's important to take them.
If the gym happens to be empty, my girls will join me with their own “workouts,” jumping rope or running through an obstacle course that I will set up for them.
Other times, if there are a lot of people there and I don't want them to possibly get in the way or get hurt by a weight gone flying (it's happened before) I let them munch on snacks and totally zone out on Netflix on my phone while they are there, because even with that, in the grand scheme of things, I think they are learning an important lesson.
I think it's important for my girls to see their mom working out. I make a point to tell them, over and over, how I exercise because it makes me feel happy and strong. I compliment them on their strength and they flex their biceps for me as we snap silly pictures and giggle together. I tell my oldest how impressed I am with her strong legs when she kicks a soccer ball and how awesome her sister is when she joins me for some jumping jacks.
I can assure you that I am definitely not a fitness model or anyone you will see rocking flat abs anytime soon, but after stumbling through some dark times as a mother and knowing that depression will be a life-long battle for me, I have found that exercising is my saving grace. Not just physical for me, but mental. I call it my therapy, because for 30 minutes to an hour most days a week, I forget everything. My mind clears and I focus on the simple acts of breathing, of lifting, of the sheer physical capabilities of my body.
Somehow, in my days as a stay-at-home mom, when I feel reduced to a machine that is going through the motions of changing diapers and cooking and cleaning and doing load after load of laundry and feeling a little bit like I am slipping away from the world because I don't really matter, lifting weights while my children play or “work out” next to me, changes me.
I fear that my daughters will fight their own battles as women and mothers some day–it's never an easy road for us women, who must somehow reconcile living a life with bodies that will be judged and hated and admired and used and changed with finding our own self-worth inside of them.
And for me, that journey has started with the act of picking up some heavy-ass weights and realizing that I am stronger than I thought. I just hope they are watching and realizing the same thing for themselves.