Now, as the mother of four, those excuses look weak and make me think I simply lacked the self-discipline to work out regularly.
If the drive to the gym with kids were an Olympic event, surely I would earn a gold medal for perseverance.
“It’s time to go to the health club. Let’s get our shoes on.”
Seven-year-old daughter: “Do we have to?”
Five-year-old daughter: “Why do you have to go to the stu-uuupid health club?”
“Come on guys. Every time we go to the health club, you have so much fun with the other kids that you don’t want to come home when I’m done working out. Let’s go.”
Grumble, grumble. Look for shoes. Put on shoes. Open the van door. Fight ensues over who sits where. Finally everyone is buckled in and we head up the road.
We pull up to a stop sign as my five-year old smiles and asks, “Whose house are we going to?”
“We’re going to the gym,” I remind her while bracing myself for the response. “Oh, yeah, the stuu--uuupid gym.”
“Come on guys, do you like it when I turn into Monster Mom? You know—grumpy and not much fun to be around?”
“Oh, yeah, we don’t like monster mom.”
“We’re almost there,” I reassure myself. My toddler breaks into my thoughts asking if I’ll sing “Wheels on the Bus”—a request I can’t refuse. This song has become my way of entertaining Baby Houdini so she doesn’t wiggle out of her seat.
I suspect it’s our custom-designed verses—the ones that animatedly describe the pigs on the bus, the cows on the bus, and even the hee-hawing donkeys on the bus.
Honoring her request, I drive and sing –“The cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo…moo, moo, moo…” while beginning to wonder if this mid-day trip to the gym is worth it.
The drive to the health club can be rough, but I’ve come to think of it as a mommy-muscle workout. En route to the club, I get to refine my negotiating skills, practice staying focused on the goal in the face of compelling opposition, and learn to creatively invite teamwork from players who aren’t sure they want to be on the team.
There are other positive benefits to visiting the gym. My kids get to practice putting someone else’s needs first—a skill that rewards them now (i.e., happy mom instead of monster mom) and that will serve them well in the future. Also, my daughters learn that sometimes they have to do something they don’t want to do (putting their shoes on, riding in the van) so they can do something that they like to do (playing with their friends at the gym).
Even recognizing these rewards, I realize that there’s something more that gets me to the gym. The kids and I pile out of the van and scurry into the club. After checking in, I drop the girls off at childcare and head to the workout floor. Smiling, I step on the treadmill, start walking, and then jogging. I take a deep breath, and clear my head, understanding now why I didn’t work out regularly before I had children. The truth is, I simply didn’t know how relaxing it could be.