I’m Balancing Life, Who Needs Exercise?
When I learned how to drive, I remember being behind the wheel of the car, staring intently out the windshield as my mother told me the goal was to keep the car between the lines, an assigned task to which my response was the mental scratching of my head and a “how?” It seemed as if, no matter how hard I tried to keep the wheel perfectly still, it wavered every so often one way or the other. My grandfather is blind and I remember driving him somewhere one day as a teenager. Mid-way home, he remarked that I was doing a much better job keeping the car controlled: that I wasn’t wobbling as much. In other words, I was keeping the car between the lines. Balanced.
Around the same time, give or take a couple years, my sister started going to the gym fairly regularly. To keep her company, I would tag along. Exercise and I have never had a very good relationship. And saunas, my sister’s choice, made me so dizzy that I was unable to stand. I stand inside a gym and probably look like a scared, confused alien. But I soon discovered the one machine that did not intimidate me: the treadmill. This, I could do. All I had to do was walk. When that got boring, or I felt adventurous, I could change the incline or the speed of my walking. Seeing the number of calories I was burning was satisfying. So I would turn on my earphones, start walking… and simply not stop. I walked, literally, for hours. I walked until my mother called, wondering where I was. I walked until there were blisters on my feet, formed through socks and tennis shoes. My legs were numbed, but I didn’t feel them. I was just focused—the machine was still going, if I didn’t put one foot in front of the other, I’d trip so, I just walked. For hours. Also, during this time, I’d carry my food into the bathroom and flush most of it down the toilets. I was not maintaining balance.
Today, I don’t do traditional exercising very much, unless chasing kids through parks and squeezing in and out of tunnels counts. I do carry kids on my back, pick them up and even sometimes carry them up and down stairs without a second thought. I have a Y membership but the only thing I ever use it for is to take the girls swimming and, when you take kids swimming, YOU don’t actually swim very much. Instead, you walk around in the water making sure they don’t drown. Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that I don’t really “exercise.” But not today. In fact, today, I had an epiphany, if you will. With all the things I have to keep balanced in life—who needs exercising? I mean, let’s think about it. I am a mother so there’s a whole boatload of things that need balancing….
* I home school my girls. Doing this requires that I search out and find stuff for them to do outside of the home, and with other children their ages, because if I don’t, they’ll likely become hermits with underlying trust issues. BUT, be careful, homeschooling moms lest in your zest to properly socialize your little ones, you accidentally over-schedule them, causing them to feel unnecessary stress. Exactly how many times can you leave the house for a play date, social adventure or what have you before it magically becomes “too much”?
* Writing. Okay, this is really, really hard to do. By the time I was in high school, I’d written well over 100 books, half of which were well over 1000 (no, that’s not an accidental 0: one thousand is what I meant to say) handwritten pages and a few of which were over 2000 (no accident there, either) handwritten pages. This requires almost constant writing. Since I was very young, I’ve written in nearly every spare moment of every day: in school, I wrote in between classes, I wrote on napkins in restaurants waiting on the food to arrive, I wrote on my palm in the car, I practically wrote in my sleep. I still do. This past week is a prime example: this is the 3rd post I’ve written in 3 days, and I still have two more entries forming in my head as I write. Plus, I am working on a novel. But I’ve had to learn to keep writing balanced. I didn’t want the girls to even know about my writing, because of my topics, and I didn’t want them to remember that “mama wrote all the time” so I just don’t write during the daytime. It’s actually not all that difficult because I stay busy homeschooling, playing and generally being with my girls. But it’s never far from my mind. Today, I went to lunch with my sister at O’Charley’s and the little road signs they have as decoration sparked a blog post so I had to take a picture of the sign so that i could use it in a future post. Writing is always with me. It’s balanced, but it takes conscious effort: it’s something that simply must be a part of my life.
* Being a mom vs being a woman. I know, I know, I already know that this is way just not even close to being balanced. Being a mom is what I live for, it’s what I was put here to do, and to be. If my girls are happy and safe, then, I really don’t care about pretty much anything else. Everyone tells me I should care about it, everyone tells me that I have to “take time for me” but I always wonder, “why?” and “how?” Plus, I mean, I do stay up until almost 3:30 practically every night so i have plenty of “me” time (in my head) from the time they go to sleep until the time I collapse. Most of that time, granted, is spent doing things like prepping for their schoolwork but also, like, say, now, I am writing and writing is considered “me time.” So… what more is there? Relationships, you say? Friends? ::sigh:: Right. Well… my track record isn’t very good in either of those departments so I think I’ll stick with what I’m good at. Wouldn’t you? If I worried about this more than I do already, believe you me, I could win an Olympic challenge, so sharp would I be. Unfortunately, I’d probably also pass out from the sheer emotional and intellectual weight of it all. Who wouldn’t like to lose 5 pounds? Who still has the five pounds she promised herself she’d lose by February 1? March 1? This area is my five pounds. I’ve learned to live with the five pounds.
* Money, bills, blah, blah, blah. All that normal stuff everyone in their lives must keep balanced, least the apocalypse arrive on the doorstep. You know… the picky eater won’t eat anything but yogurt. Dr. says “tell her this is for dinner; if she doesn’t eat it, she doesn’t eat it. Do this enough times and she will start to eat whatever you put in front of her” but my mom brain goes “But she’ll be hungry and I don’t want my kid to starve.” I want her to eat more than yogurt so that she’ll get the nutrition she needs—but I don’t want to have to cook dinner twice: once for me and Breathe, and once for Alight, every night, nor do I really want to teach her that if she just complains long enough, everyone will cater to her wishes because all mature grown-ups know that they won’t. Sharing is another good example: I mean, I want them to share but…. I also want them to feel as though they have some things that are simply theirs. I wouldn’t expect, for example, my eight year old to share her diary with her sister so…. who sets the rules about when to insist that they share versus when to help protect their sense of “mine” vs “common goods”? While we’re on this list of children….. sun tan lotion. I lather it on, then send them on their merry way. Twenty minutes later, at the first hint their skin looks like it’s flushed, and I lather more on. Can you ever have too much suntan lotion? If so, how do you know when too much is?
Much like the Energizer bunny, this list could just keep going and and going and going and going. I mean, really ,if my brain could shed calories, and I managed to keep my life balanced, I’d weigh practically nothing. It’s really just like exercising: some days, I have a perfect handle on it. I get up, ready to climb mountains, end world hunger and, while I’m at it, trek to Alaska on foot. Other days, I say, “nah. It can wait til tomorrow” and fall flat on my freckled face, while trying to guess how many Cokes I can drink before falling asleep. But then again, if I didn’t have up days and down days, then I would be extremely organized or extremely messed up, either of which would mean I was very UN-balanced. So then, since I have days where the stats on the blog make me think I’m world famous while other days they make me feel quite lonely, while some days I DO excel only to fail miserably the next, I must be doing a decent job of keeping the car between the lines, of maintaining balance in my life.
(Please take careful note that this post is not intended to imply that we don’t need to exercise to maintain our health).