While I was 12, my parents separated and my mom became a single parent to two preteens. Judy worked full-time and took care of everything at home. Now that I’m middle-aged, I have a greater appreciation for her habits and the choices she made while I was growing up. A few lessons stand out as I look back from 40-something years old.
You have to make time to exercise in order to take care of your body.
It took a while to understand it and embrace it: the love of exercise. My mother taught aerobics in the 80s in her leotard and leg warmers to songs by the Pointer Sisters and Micheal Jackson. (Sorry, I don't have any photos!) After we moved to Missouri, she no longer taught group fitness classes but she did sweat it out in the living room with the likes of Billy Blanks and Richard Simmons. Occasionally, she'd get me to join in despite my lack of stamina! Mom also regularly went for long, fast-paced walks. She made time to exercise while we were young and she made time to exercise as a single mother working full-time. I’m pretty amazed by that when I think about the moms I know and how busy they are. She may not have realized it then but the example provided to us as children helped influence both my brother and I to be more physically active adults.
You don’t realize you can do hard things until you do them.
I remember going for walks with mom and not being able to keep up very well. I was probably around 11 years old when I sat down on the trail complaining I couldn’t continue. She reminded me that I told her I could walk the entire thing and it was my choice to go along. My mom acknowledged that I was tired but assured me that to keep going meant getting stronger. I may not have completed it very quickly or energetically but I did it! A similar sentiment is also what got me through the first few weeks of college. This shy, introverted homebody had a VERY hard time adjusting. These two examples are fairly mild in contrast to other experiences but they illustrate my point well enough without getting overly personal. While in the midst of a trial or conflict, I've got to push through the discomfort of growth to reach the other side...or at least learn from the effort when I don't quite make it.
It’s okay to slow down. Actually, it’s a necessity. And no matter how hard you work, if you look for it, there will always be that NEXT thing that needs your attention and energy.
Sometimes, mom teaches us what NOT to do. Judy was always on the go. Work, cooking, house-cleaning, grocery-shopping, curtain-washing, furniture-moving, yard work…I hardly recall her sitting down for long periods of time because there was always the next thing. She never took much time for herself because she was always worried about that next thing that HAD to be done. Even as my brother and I grew older and eventually moved out of the house, it seemed she would never relax. It wasn’t until after she retired that she started to slow down and sit with her tea and watch the birds. Everyone deserves some time to just be. Focus on the most important stuff and the rest can wait.
Of course, all that I've learned from my mom over the years cannot be boiled down into a few paragraphs. To this day, if I have a problem, I still call mom. So cheers to all the moms out there and all of the big and little lessons you share with your children every day.
Happy Mother's Day!