My boys- all 4 of them- are my greatest joy and my greatest frustration.
Recently, they became something else… my greatest support system.
There have been times that I have felt very alone. Not lonely, Lord knows. Just..alone. Chris' job has recently required that he is work longer hours, and lately he has been distracted with projects that are on a time crunch. That leaves me juggling the housework, preparing meals, keeping up communication with relatives, trying to manage my own businesses, running errands, getting everyone where they need to be at the right times (and the right places!), and the bajillion other things that need to happen, not to mention the stuff that suddenly crops up on a daily basis. It's easy to lose track of yourself- to focus so much on all of those things that you forget to take care of YOU.
Some days, it's hard as hell to carve out time for myself. Thankfully, at ages 9, 7, and 5, my boys can (usually) be kept occupied for a half-hour so I can get some yoga in, or my at-home CrossFit challenge of the day. We are lucky enough to have a great park with a half-mile-loop walking path and 2 playgrounds a block away, and the boys never pass up an opportunity to head down there with me- even though they know it requires doing the trek the long way through the subdivision to get there (3/4 mile) and doing at least one loop of the path before they get to hit the jungle gyms.
I always figured they were just going along with the extra effort to get what they wanted in the end (smart ones, those boys of mine!). But recently, Alex surprised me. He was eager to jog with me- he matched my stride almost the entire time. We talked and laughed as we jogged.
Who knew I had enough breath left to laugh and talk?
He darted ahead a couple times (the showoff!), but he was very engaged with me nearly the whole way.
It was awesome.
I think it was even more meaningful because he's taken note of my efforts. About a month ago, he asked me if I had lost weight.
It blew my mind that my 9 year-old noticed.
The other day he'd gone with me to run a few errands. I hadn't paid much attention to the fact that I'd grabbed a shirt out of the closest that was 2 sizes too large (one of the old ones I'd left hanging around). I stopped to dig in my purse for a pen at one of the stores while talking to a woman, and the shirt slipped off my shoulder, (as too-large shirts are wont to do) flashing my bra and leaving me thankful I'd worn one of the good ones that day. I stopped to adjust my shirt and muttered under my breath, and Alex rather proudly announced that I had lost over 100lbs. Clearly he's been taking lessons from his grandmother <insert eyeroll and a wave to my mother here>, but it still made me proud.
Swimsuit season is upon us, and I finally broke down and bought one. Ordered from Ebay, thank you very much, and I rather like it. When it arrived, I snuck away to try it on while the boys were occupied. Alex rounded the corner as I was staring critically at myself in the mirror.
"Oh my GAWD, Mom. You look GORGEOUS!"
And of course, his brothers came running, and took up the cry.
Have I mentioned I love those kids beyond words?
It dawned on me that as much as I've wanted to include the family in these changes to a healthier lifestyle, I've pretty much been dragging them along for the ride. I've been doing them- and myself- a grave injustice by not really including them in the planning, the shopping, the cooking seriously enough. I was so busy talking at them about everything, I wasn't talking to them.
We've made a more concentrated effort to really sit down and talk to the kids about what meals and snacks we all would like and to figure out a schedule for exercise and family activities. We've started to include them even more in the prep work and cooking of meals. We've opened up dialogue about how they feel, physically and emotionally, at different times.
We've taken the steps and have given them the opportunity to not only be supported by us, but to become a support system for us.
It's been a surprise to realize that we could do it; more, that we should do it, more than we already were.
We've made a point to lean on the kids now and then for encouragement, for input, to get that support not just from Chris and I and our outside influences, but from within the family structure.
It's made us stronger. It's brought us closer. It's been a good lesson- and a positive change- for everyone.