Before I had children (ah. How many times do parents utter sentences that start with that phrase?) I drove to the gym–I’m sorry, we’re supposed to call it a health club, I think because it offers nutrition advice and pedicures–almost every day after school, and most Saturdays could find me huffing and puffing at a BodyPump or BodyAttack class (do you love how the classes all have “Body” in front of them? I think it’s to scare you into knowing they’re going to kick not just your rear end, but your whole danged self, around the room for 60 minutes). I looked forward to the group classes–the competition to be faster, get stronger, jump higher–and it relieved stress better than a couple of dirty vodka martinis at happy hour. I liked that I could run up the stairs at work without gasping for air at the top. I took some pride in moving heavy boxes around my classroom without having to ask a dude for help. And I didn’t mind that the backs of my arms didn’t do that wiggle-flap thing in the the breeze when I’d wave my hand.
Once I got pregnant with Saoirse, I tried to keep up the gym-going as much as I could, but I admit that I got plain-old bored with trying to keep my heart rate down, and as I got bigger, it just wasn’t that much fun anymore to maneuver around the belly during the cardio classes. So this gym rat slowly turned into a gym robin (you know, hop around the front every once in awhile, then disappear for entire seasons at a time). Once I had SK and my, uh, mammary glands had settled down enough for me to bounce around without fear of something popping, I tried getting back into the rhythm. I coughed up the extra 15 bucks a month for on-site child care, and tried to ignore the crying of my baby while I was in the studio next door crunching my abs back into something that vaguely resembled their glory days. Finally, I couldn’t take the stress, the guilt, the crying (Saoirse’s, sometimes mine) anymore. I’d go back sporadically, but stopped when SK was around 15 months old because now she could actually tell me that she dreaded going there.
But I missed it so much. I missed being a regular, and seeing women outside of my usual day-to-day circle. I missed the endorphins, and since I was nursing, you know the dirty martinis weren’t happening anymore. And then my arm started doing the wiggle-flap. That was the last straw.
So now, I’m back. And for lack of a more appropriate verb, it sucks. I try to go on the weekends again, which means the household sort of goes on hold in the mornings until I get back. I aim to venture over there at night, but unless there’s a Pilates class to take (because then all I have to do is plop down on a mat. Duh), I usually find an excuse to stay home: like, it’s better for the environment if I don’t use the gas. Or, I don’t want to be too sore when I take the kids to the park tomorrow (pathetic, that one). Often, it’s Saoirse saying, “Mom, don’t got to the gym tonight. Eck-ercise at home. I love you, so I don’t want you to go.” Not that that’s enough to stop me if I really want to go–she goes to bed right after I leave, for Pete’s sake–but golly, it’s a good reason to qualify me sitting on the couch with a bowl of Breyer’s instead. If Dave works from home once during the week, or doesn’t have an early appointment, I’ll try to sneak out while he’s feeding the girls. Sometimes, it comes down to actually scheduling it into his calendar.
If that sounds erratic and completely hard to maintain, you’ve got it. It’s the pits. I much appreciate the comfort of a routine. But I refuse to take SK and Quinn back to the child care, especially since Saoirse said to me the other day that she never, ever wants to go back to “Mommy’s gym” again: “I don’t like your gym. I don’t want to go there. I cry when you take me there. You leave me.” Great: I took BodyCombat, my daughter developed PTSD.
But I’m going to try to keep it up. My doctor told me that women who’ve had two kids should pretty much give up the idea of ever wearing a bikini again without the help of a procedure that involves the words “tummy” and “tuck.” She said that a tankini is the way to go, because even if you have a six-pack, there’s always going to be what my friend Molly calls “elephant skin” (I know, that sounds horrific. But those first couple months after the baby’s born and you don’t think you’ll ever be seen on a beach again? Yeah, the description’s about right). But it’s not so much about the swimsuits for me (because it’s not exactly a runway show at our local kiddie pool, you know?). It’s more that I want to be stronger should I (eek! gasp!) carry another baby (in my belly, though stronger arms for hefting toddlers would be nice, too). I want to be able to chase my girls around the yard without falling over. And I want to be a good example to them. I tell them that Mommy exercises to be healthy and strong, not so that I can audition for the The Real Housewives of Central Pennsylvania (The farm shows! The Yeungling! The fight to see who has the better stick-figure decals of her family on the minivan!).
I was taking my BodyCombat class last Saturday (See? There’s that “Body” name again). It was right in the middle of the high intensity track, and as I was doing my roundhouse kicks and pretending to punch some imaginary scary person, I had a little moment of Hey, look what I can do! Then I passed out. No, I’m just kidding. But it told me that I need to keep doing it. Because working out doesn’t need to be B.C. (get it?). It can be A.C. (as in, after c-section. I crack myself up!). Somehow, even if it means missing the night’s episode of Modern Family, I will get my tired self to that, ahem, club. Because my children need to know that exercise is important. I need to stay as healthy and strong as I can in the hope that I’ll see their children run around one day (oh, my). And really? I can’t say I miss the ol’ wiggle-flap.