Finding Nirvana at the Gym

Motherhood tends to change your perspective on a whole lotta things.

One of these is my view of exercise.

Before I joined the honorable and blessed estate of motherhood, I used to think of exercise as a chore. I look back upon those days of my newlywed bliss and remember with regret all the perfectly beautiful moments I let slip thru my grasp where I could’ve been at the gym or outside running or on a treadmill or watching an exercise video or SOMETHING! This also had something to do with the fact that I was in my early twenties and my metabolism and I got along just fine.

Today Mr. Metabolism and I are NOT BFFS. At all. I hate him, actually.

Hogan YMCA ©fuquaarchitects.com

Once you become a mother, the way you view exercise changes. It’s no longer a chore in my eyes. It’s ME time. Freedom. So I may be about to pass out from exhaustion and my aging joints may be screaming for me to stop, but when I am exercising, I am an independent being. I don’t remember the last time any of the other people in my Body Pump class threw themselves on the floor at my feet because they couldn’t tie their shoelaces. No one has ever asked to drink from my water bottle, nor have they spit in my water before returning it.

It’s like Nirvana.

Only I am sweaty and stinky and surrounded by other sweaty and stinky people.

When I am exercising, all the moments of stress and emotional fatigue just begin melting away.

Why the heck do the inches not melt away as easily? For cryin’ out loud. The humanity of it all.

I enjoy this freedom and relaxation for one reason alone: I have decided that sleep is overrated. I do NOT bring my kids to the gym with me for childcare. I attend a class that starts at 5:15 AM – this means I have to get out of bed at the criminal hour of 4:52 (I have timed it down to the second). It’s painful and it’s just wrong. But still, compared with the alternative…

Option 1: Exercise WITH my kids. I’ve tried this one. The jogging stroller, the little bikes with training wheels. Mmhmm. It lasted about one block.

Option 2: Bringing my kids to the gym with me?! I have witnessed this over the years. Perhaps you are one of these poor souls.

I imagine it goes something like this:

“Hey! Let’s get ready and go to the gym, kiddos!”

Sighs. Moans. Crying. Tantrums.

At my house this announcement would be like saying the apocalypse was upon us. It would not be well-received. (I can’t say that I blame them…the kidcare at my gym has no windows, has kids crawling all over each other, and the music from the classes blares into the room. It’s not exactly comfortable.)

Thirty minutes later, everyone would be calmed down and I would begin packing snacks for them. Thinking I should probably not pack M&Ms or Little Debbies since we are going to a GYM, I’d try to sneak in some apple slices and carrots or veggies and hummus. Halfway thru slicing the apples I’d have to stop and put out a minor disagreement over whose turn it was to put the dog out.

Finally, we’d be in the car headed towards the gym. If I hurry, I have just enough time to get there in time for the spin class.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I’d see that no one is wearing shoes and that I left the snacks sitting on the countertop. We’d have to go back, making me late for my class and wasting another 15 minutes.

As I walked everyone into the kidcare room, I’d try to ignore the kid in the corner wiping his nose on the toys. I’d try to look away when a little boy in the bathroom forgot to close the door as he sits on the miniature potty. I’d give my girls a bright smile, hand them their snacks and wave at the disturbingly tired looking adult sitting in a rocking chair as I headed out the door to catch the last half of that spin class.

And I would definitely ignore my kids’ sad eyes looking at me like I’ve just left them on the steps of an orphanage. Good grief, people, we’re talking about forty-five lousy minutes! I will not be gone long enough to take a trip to China!

Yes, I’ve observed these moms trying to do battle with their desire and need to exercise and their attempt to bring their children along. I understand. I really do. I mean, none of us wants to have to slip into a pair of Mom Jeans. We do have a little bit of pride left in our physiques, after all. It’s imperative that we get some exercise so we don’t become the poor person at the store that toddlers loudly proclaim to “have a BIG bottom” while their humiliated mothers shush them.

And yet, the price is GREAT. The diaper bag, the snacks, the video games for older kids, the complaining, the shoe tying, the rewards for kids who cooperate…it’s just too much sometimes.

As I type this, my kids are watching G-Force downstairs and I am seriously contemplating breaking into my daughter’s birthday cake. After all, if I can’t have the happy endorphins from exercise, I may as well substitute with the quite pleasing endorphins from sugar, right?

I’m convinced Weight Watchers and kids have something going on under the table. It’s a conspiracy. The makers of Mom Jeans are in on it, too. It’s mothers against the world, ladies. We WILL exercise! We WILL be fit! We WILL…

Oh, whatever. Where’s that cake?

Who’s with me?