Practicing Parents

Lessons I Keep Learning

~ by Lee Hull Moses

There are some things I will apparently never learn.

Every winter, I have to ask our property manager to remind me how to adjust the heat in my office.  I can never remember if there is a “d” in refrigerator. (Why not? There’s a “d” in fridge!) Every time, I have to look up how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup.

And every few months, I have to re-learn the lesson that exercise is good for me.

I mean, I know this in an intellectual way. In a theoretical, hypothetical way, I know that regular exercise is part of a healthy life. But when it comes to my life, well, I’d rather sleep later in the morning and eat ice cream on the couch in the evenings.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I made myself go to the gym and walk on the treadmill or swim laps. On days when I was feeling particularly tired or otherwise unmotivated, I had a little internal mantra I used to motivate myself. I’d think of that little life growing inside me and whisper to myself: healthy mom, healthy mom, healthy mom.

I didn’t even really know what it would mean to be a mom back then; surely I didn’t realize what a luxury it was to go to the gym whenever I wanted. But I knew that I wanted to take care of my body so that it would be there for this baby, whoever she turned out to be.

I do, still, 8 years later, want to take care of myself for my kids. I want to be a healthy mom for my kids’ sake. But now I realize that’s it’s not just for them – it’s for me, too. One of the healthiest older women I know attributes her good health to the fact that she has walked three miles every morning for the past 30 years.

And the simple reality is that I feel better when I get moving regularly. I forget this all the time. Life crowds in and I get lazy, or the time for exercising just gets squeezed out. I get extra cranky, or my pants don’t quite fit, or my back aches, and then I realize it’s been awhile since I even went for a walk. So then, I drag myself out of bed in the morning, or I work out some deal with my husband so I can get out of the house after dinner, and I get moving, even a little bit, and I remember.

I’m on a pretty good kick right now. I went for a run this morning and managed to keep myself to one cookie at the graduation party we went to this afternoon. But in a few months — in hot, muggy August, probably, I imagine I’ll have fallen off the wagon again and I’ll have to learn the lesson over again.

I guess that’s why we call it practice.

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