Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

The question I don’t get to ask my kids anymore…

Lenten Reflection #32 – My Kids’ Bedtime Stories

“How was school?” This is one line we toss to our kids nearly 180 times per year, and it boomerangs back empty or with the classic, “good”.

I’ve learned to manage this empty answer for one reason…

Because after years of the same bedtime routine with our kids, (yelling, brushing teeth, prayers, etc.) somehow when they’ve returned from practicing the sport they love, finished their homework and eaten dinner, they finally settle and are ready to share a story or two.

Here are a few examples:

My youngest son talks about the football game he played in PE when he “dove to catch the ball with one hand, jammed his thumb, and was still able to somehow, “dive into the endzone”. `

My daughter and I banter a bit, and she tells me a funny story about a classmate whose name everyone yells out daily as soon as he steps into the classroom or answers a question. She hollers the name then does a spot-on impersonation of her teacher’s reaction. I compare it to Norm’s fame on the TV series Cheers and we both crack up.

My middle guy describes the angst he feels after he asks his Honors Chemistry teacher a question, returns to his desk and forgets what to do. Thankfully, his hunger to know how to do things supersedes any apprehension to ask again. He follows up with, “Oh, and I ran a 6-minute mile in JROTC today.”

Suddenly the “good” response transforms into stories of their day at school.

I call them our kids’ bedtime stories.

One last thing I crave asking the kids again — and Kathy Radigan from the blog My Dishwasher is Possessed puts it best in her blog post: My Special Mom Talent is Annoying Teenagers:

I miss asking them if they did their homework then asking them again if they did their homework, then asking them one more time if they did their homework.

I know I sometimes only half-listen to all of their answers, and I know the kids miss their routine, sports, and friends, but this won’t last forever. (I know that because Sanjay Gupta on CNN just said so, and he knows).

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Goodbye Carpool Line…

When you’re a mom, job security is still a thing.

A few years ago, I worked in a Pre-K Special Needs Classroom with one of my favorite people in the world, Debbie. When daylight savings time came around, she teased that she was the ONLY one who knew how to accurately adjust the time on the classroom clock. “Job Security” she declared, hoisting herself on a chair to take down the clock.

So when my two oldest kids drove off to school in our “new to us” car, I saw a bit of my mom-job security circle the drain. No need to take them in early or pick them up after meetings. IMG_1115.jpegThe “always late” bus complaints will be a thing of the past. Here’s the bus today…guess they’re right.

Wait, should they be out there on their own? I’ve heard discussions both ways…there are those parents who are SO excited to have their kids drive themselves to school, practice and “to the store for milk”.

Not me.

Since the get-go, I’ve been the mom who lugged everyone everywhere…storytime, grocery store, soccer. Outings just made the day better. On our drives to elementary school, we built our stories. There’s the time I accidentally rolled over a rabbit and told the kids, “Yup, missed it!”

Sorry.

Or during morning prayers when we’d say, “Good morning sweet Jesus our Savior…” and our young Zavier would laugh and laugh thinking we were praying to him.

Even now that the kids are older, I relish our time in the car.

Fine.

I despise the arguing, poking, seat adjusting, music changing craziness that goes on, but the conversations can be pretty good, the singing mostly on key, and the stress level relatively low…since I’m at the helm.

Over the years, I’ve discovered change truly is our only constant and it’s up to me to loosen my hold and afford them the chance to share their experiences with each other.

Wow, those words really sound better than they feel.

Naturally, I worry as I stare at the bouncy faces I see on the Life 360 App zooming down roads, and I am crazy stressed about the late-to-work-speeders, moms-on-the-phone, and texting-teens circling them like sharks. But now it’s their responsibility to figure out the best time to leave in the morning. It’s their turn to find the most strategical place to park to avoid long carpool lines, and most certainly their turn to watch the gas gauge closely.

As I stand on the other side of the driver’s door in the morning, I give Cora the international “roll the window down” sign by moving my fist in small circles. I kiss her again on the forehead, reminding her to be careful and to let me know when they arrive. “If you need anything, just call.” They drive away and I feel anxious and proud like I’ve just handed them the keys to a Nissan and the world.

This is the cross-country course of parenthood. Full of roots to stumble on, downhills to relish and inclines to power through. I suppose if there were operating instructions for  kids they would say:

  • care and coddle when they are young,
  • provide a cozy, loving chrysalis as they grow, and
  • eventually, release them and let them fly — THE SPEED LIMIT!

So what if my job security was threatened this week? Thankfully being a mom has about 3 million other duties — ha, I’m suddenly reminded they are still just kids as I imagine them belly laughing as they blurt out, “You said duties!!”

I suppose the DMV can continue to issue permits and licenses to our teenagers but my kids know my “helicopter mom” license never expires, so I’ll be watching.

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Other, Parenting/Running/Pets, siblings

Parenting and exercise – 5 ways to make it work without the guilt

IMG_0540LENTEN REFLECTION: #28

I ripped this page out of a 1990-something Runner’s World Magazine to remind me why I run and it’s hung on our refrigerator ever since. It’s the subtle reminder I need when the guilt of exercising overwhelms me. It screams, “Lace up and go! Now!”

Here’s how I learned to fit exercise in when my kids were younger…

I had everything timed. While my boys were napping, I would do an at-home workout. At 2:20 as the P-90X or Shaun T cool down concluded, I’d switch off the DVD or treadmill and quietly walk about 30 steps to meet my daughter at the elementary school bus stop. Most days I arrived dripping in sweat from a workout. I repeated this ritual for nine years.

Eventually, the kids got used to my semi-sweaty hello kisses and groaned less each time.  In a sense, I was training the kids to know exercise was part of the day. Kind of a Pavlov effect. Sweaty mom equals a happy mom.

I remember speaking to a friend at church about fitting in workouts. He said, “When my wife complains about my running, I have to remind her I really do it for her.” I nodded, saying, “I get it. I do it for my kids.”

It’s one of those conversations people may overhear and think we’re selfish and crazy…well, maybe.

Frequently, Catholic guilt lurks behind the corners of my decisions and since naptime was retired years ago, I naturally feel bad if I exercise while the kids are home now that they are older.

But now we understand each other and often times, they’ll encourage me and my husband to go run or go to the gym. We take them to practices for their respective sports and never once have they said, “I’m going to exercise really hard for 2 hours, but I feel really guilty about it.” It’s just part of our lifestyle.

Now for the last 27 days, I’ve felt that same remorse blogging. I write during stolen moments of guilt while our kids stare at their exhausted devices and labor over homework. But I can’t stop. Writer’s high is akin to the one of running and is highly addictive. There is joy in sharing my untidy life story and hope that a tiny bit of my parental insight might benefit another soul.

I’ve learned to let the guilt go. After all these years, my kids understand me and can even exercise with me or edit my blog posts. They appreciate that our family values lifelong fitness.

After all, I really do it for them.

Fine. Mostly me.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to fit exercise in and minimize the guilt:

  1. TAKE TURNS WITH YOUR PARTNER – Take turns exercising. One works out, the other helps with homework.
  2. ASK YOUR KIDS TO WORKOUT WITH YOU – Do a 10-minute workout with your kids. Depending on their age, you could run around the block together or they could ride a bike while you run alongside. If they are younger, do simple Yoga stretches like butterfly and cat/cow.
  3. ACCEPT A SHORT WORKOUT – realize even a short 20-minute run or workout will do. Some days I set a goal to do 100 burpees. I’ll break it up throughout the day, or knock it out in sets of 10 with a 45-second rest in between.
  4. HAVE A PLAYDATE WORKOUT – Meet a friend at a playground, play with your kids and mix in playground exercises like push-ups at the end of the slide, monkey bar hanging hold or chin-up hold and planks.
  5. FOCUS ON NUTRITION – Make a healthy meal with your family. Think about the 80/20 philosophy. When you hit 40 years of age, maintaining good health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Sad, but true.

Run on!

Spiritual Workout: Take a walk with your kids and just listen. Don’t try to fix, just listen.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets

WHY I RUN – 11 REASONS

LENT REFLECTION #24

The other day, my husband and I went for a run. As we reached our turn around point, a group of college-age runners sped by. Leading the group, was a young girl with legs about the length of my body, and a long ponytail chasing her on her seemingly effortless run.

By her pace, I thought perhaps it was her speed day or maybe a long run. Whatever it was, she knew why she was running. All runners know.

Running reasons always start with the basics: lose weight, lower risk of heart disease, and improve overall health.

But running is so much deeper. Running gives more, even when you don’t ask for it, even when you don’t expect it. Running is generous and painful, fulfilling and grueling. All we have to do is show up.

When I lace up for a run, I always picture myself going so much faster than I actually can. But that’s not why I run.

When I was younger, I had PR’s and long distance goals. I ran so I could justify dessert or shed some water weight. In my first race ever, a college campus 8K (random distance) in Flagstaff, I ran with my friend Dan. We came in dead last. In that instance, I ran for the t-shirt and to say I did it. And I did it.

Now, I run for the peripheral stuff running gives, not to beat a PR or score a dri-fit shirt. Much like our past ancestors, I run for survival. Not the original hunting for prey such as antelope or gazelles type of survival…

…just mom survival. Here’s why I run:

  1. Simplicity: it only takes shoes, desire and about 45 minutes
  2. Perspective: it makes the mystery of what’s for dinner, not a big deal
  3. Refocus: it opens my mind to new ideas (dinner again)
  4. Meditation: this is my meditative time, just me and my labored breathing
  5. Body Awareness: feeling the wind on my face, lungs breathing, and sweat pouring
  6. Afterward: the gift of a pounding heart, thankful legs and arms, and a clear mind
  7. Recalibration: working through injuries, relishing rest
  8. Family fitness: being a positive example for our kids, even though they all run faster than me
  9. Success: knowing my mind and body can fight through every incline and rough patch even when everything hurts
  10. Exposure: all travel should include a run to experience the area
  11. Clean slate: even 30 minutes of running can wipe my worry slate clean

Ultimately, running is the catalyst to joy, freedom, fitness, and longevity. It has helped me become a better version of myself and a calmer mom. All a work in progress. Time for a run.

Spiritual Workout: whether you walk or run today, include a Rosary as you accomplish your workout.

Workout: Run on!