I have raised my kids to rush from place to place and I only come to terms with it after I’ve found my sanity in the bottom of a bag of potato chips with my makeup running down my face. Call it a ritual at this point. I don’t stay this way of course, as I usually find myself taking advice from a five year old taking pity on me, covering me up with a too-small blanket and asking me to just take a break.
But I can’t just take a break. The world would stop spinning.
I live on a hamster wheel and there are times when I do stop but only if I spin out first.
Look, it’s no surprise that being a mom of 7 kids is chaotic and downright exhausting. And you can go ahead and say it: What did you expect? You brought this on yourself.
But the alternative is what? A dull life? Sheer boredom? Living the same, day after day piloting two, maybe three kids? If the short end of the stick means that I occasionally experience the blunt force trauma of having a life of 7 kids catch up with me, then so be it. I wouldn’t want a normal life. I’m happy to not even know my freaking name by the end of the night; to be so tired that I sleep well—that means I’m happy right? And when I wake up and it’s a new day, I can get dressed knowing that I’m not fooling anyone—I’m not living a life that I really didn’t want. And I’m definitely not going through the motions. Going through the emotions, maybe, haha…but definitely not caring whether or not I’m coloring inside the lines with raising a family.
The thing that gets me through it all is being different—unconventional. Taking a traditional upbringing and turning it inside out. What does this build? Character? Self-awareness? Resiliency? I think yes to all the above. Our big family does not have a solid foundation—it is always moving; changing so much the concrete can’t set. As a result, someone is always unhappy, someone is always thrilled, or lucky, fulfilled, crying, feeling left out, or feeling too crowded. The list goes on, the emotions are always changing and sometimes just as fast as their ages.
To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t clone myself if I could, because even she wouldn’t get it right. I’d wind up firing her for fucking up, for not being me. There is no one else that could do this job. No one else probably would. But it’s all the same because it’s exactly who I am and I wouldn’t do any of it differently. These kids are a very different extension of who I am, of who I wanted to be and I’m so happy to see so many versions.
Crunch crunch crunch,
So Called Mom
The toughest thing about being a mom – or at least the thing that my friends and I complain most about – is staying in shape. There’s no time; it’s too hard to get to the gym or yoga studio – or I waste money because I never go; there’s no privacy. I’m here to argue that it’s so important for your sanity, that you need to make time. It’s not an option to do nothing. What follows is my simple fix.
I have four things I try to rotate on a regular basis (and I’m not suggesting you try all four, but just for options): yoga, dance, strength training, and things for flexibility or stretching.
My rule of thumb is simplify! I do most of my exercises in my bedroom. I wear as little as possible (so I can see my muscles at work), add some music and let it rip. It is me time with the aim of being disrupted as little as possible. Of course, this rarely happens, but as we say in yoga, it helps me to stay “On the mat” – which means stay focused. I used to stop what I was doing when they burst through the door, but I have learned to keep going and they either camp out on my bed and watch or even join in.
I use a blank wall for balance exercises and my dresser like a ballet barre, and the small space around my bed for everything else. Sometimes I focus on resistance training basics – you know, those exercises we all used to hate (and still do!)—I do as many sit-ups as my abs can handle, 10 pushups and about 120 leg lifts and lunges on each side. We have a pull up bar installed in our bedroom doorway, and I do 6 pull ups. Of course, butt exercises are a must.
Always push yourself – easy to say; hard to do. But try to always increase the reps. When you do pushups, start with ten and add one more every other day. The same for plies and planks and any other exercise in your routine. Mix it up. And most importantly, breathe. If you are holding a difficult pose, picture it as one of life’s challenges. Picture the air intake enveloping the muscle group you’re working on and use it to breathe out as a stronger woman.
Remember to use your workout time as your time. Let your kids see you taking care of yourself, there is no need to hide behind a locked door or stow them in childcare at the gym all the time. My kids see me dance in the kitchen when I’m putting dishes away. I read vogue while sitting in pigeon pose. When you integrate simple activity like this into your daily routine, and stagger it throughout the day, you give your metabolism and mood a boost. And, you don’t let a lack of time (or money) be your only excuse to getting the strength and endurance you want to feel great.
At the very end of the day, unwind in a tub of epsom salts, stretch out and massage your sore muscles in the warm water. You’re worth it after all!
Your Simple Fitness Guru,
So Called Mom