Thursday, April 26, 2012

Piece of Cake.

My husband and I have children spanning the ages from one to twenty-two. The twenty-two year olds are his, he also has a nineteen year old. The one year old is ours in common and I have a seven-year-old. The funny thing about having five kids spanning the ages from one to twenty-two is that their stages sometimes overlap.

I mean, I couldn't help but think as I watched the twenty-two year old walk across the stage this weekend to receive his college diploma, that he's on the cusp of independence. He's about take his first tentative steps into adulthood. I'm sure his father would like to follow behind and hold out his arms to catch his son if he falls. Not unlike the way he wants to protect his one-year-old daughter as she navigates walking (and god help us) running.

I see the same overlap between my one-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. This weekend she was fussy and a little feverish. I also noticed that she was drooling, which is not something she's done up until now. It was clear she was teething, as her top two teeth have just come in and now she's got almost all four bottom teeth in too.

In the same weekend, my seven-year-old son lost his two front teeth. Currently he is missing two on top, and two on the bottom. He has developed an utterly charming lisp in the process. So strange to have one child pushing those baby teeth in for the first time with the other is pushing them out.

I asked my husband what he would say if he had a friend who was about to be a father again after the older children had already grown. I know for some people the idea is something akin to horrifying. My own husband got quite a bit of ribbing for it at work.

"I would tell him it's a piece of cake!" he said.

At first I thought he was joking, but he made it clear he meant it. I have to laugh at anyone who can come out of the first year with a baby and say, "It's a piece of cake." But I stop laughing when I realize he's not kidding. I find it overwhelmingly touching.

I see my husband with his arm slung around his graduating son's shoulders and I see him walking his one-year-old daughter down the sidewalk. In both endeavors he has the same look, the same proud smile. He loves them, that much is clear.

Lord knows the 2 a.m. wake up calls from a newborn were not a piece of cake. And raising a child from birth to college graduation is by no means a piece of cake. I think of 22 years of worrying about your children's safety, worrying about their progress, worrying about their feelings, worrying worrying worrying. But when you boil it down to its most basic parts, I think what you are left with is the love you feel for them.

Loving them, that part really is a piece of cake.

I wrote this post almost a year ago and never posted it. On second glance, I like it. Hope you like it too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meeting New People Is Not My Superpower.

So I've been wanting to try a new exercise class. I either work out by myself or with a personal trainer. I'm fine in a one-on-one situation. I know what I'm expected to do. I know where to go. I know how I will be treated. I can function this way with a bare minimum of neuroses at play.

A group glass triggers all sorts of red flags. First of all, a new class means new logistics, new location, new routines. What if I go to the wrong place? What if I'm early? What if I'm late? And a group class is filled with new people. In the form of a ... group. In my head, they become a group of fitness Superheroes. They will all hate me on sight. They will be forged in iron and they will leave me in a fat puddle in the middle of the gym while they scoff at what a Flabby McWeakerson I am. I will never be fit enough to work out with the Greek gods that are the fitness SuperFriends.

My brain is a scary place to live, I know.

I finally emailed the instructor and told him I was going to come to class. I thought if he expected me I would feel pressured to show up. But no. I skipped on Monday because my husband gave me an out when he said he had to leave early for work.

Wednesday morning I had no such excuse. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I put on my gym clothes and contemplated getting back into bed in my gym clothes. I went downstairs and put on my shoes in the dark. I decided I would walk on the treadmill and see if I hated life any less. If I was still miserable and suicidal over joining a group fitness class, I would just stay on the treadmill.


Once there, I decided to stay on the treadmill. Sure I was feeling better about life after ten minutes of cardio, but I wasn't feeling any better about how much I was going to suck at CrossFit. Maybe I would try it on Friday?

Or never.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the instructor enter the cardio room. I decided to zero in on the treadmill monitor and stare myself into invisibility. "Do not see me," I said, just like Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I even said it with an accent.

Then I saw someone moving toward me but I stared all the harder at the monitor. I could will myself into invisibility, just like I could will myself into Narnia when I was a kid being teased by the neighborhood thugs.

Oh yeah. That didn't work either. Damn.

"So are you coming?" the instructor asked me. He was standing on the next treadmill.

"Oh. Uh. Hi. Um. Well, I, er..." I pulled the earphones out of my ears and did my best to get out of it.

"Come on," he said and waved me over as he walked towards the gym.

"Yeah, uh, I, er, was thinking, maybe it will be too hard for me," I walked behind him, not wanting to be rude. "Maybe I should try it another time? When I'm more fit. I just don't know..."

He walked into the gym and I followed him like an obedient puppy. He introduced me to a group of people who smiled and welcomed me instantaneously.

"You're finally going to work out with the group?" one lady asked. She must have seen me working out with a personal trainer in the gym at some point.

The group seemed happy to have me. No one mentioned that 5'10" losers weren't allowed. I was overjoyed and motivated by both the class, and by the kindness of my fellow human beings.

Acceptance surprises me every time.

Also, I can barely walk today.



Somebody get me a wheelchair.