As mother’s, we are selfless. We give everything that we’ve got to our children. It’s in our nature. At Crossfit Temecula, we have all different types of mothers: moms of large families, first time moms, empty nesters, grandmothers, you name it and I can put a face to it. I’m a mom of two, two and under boys. Chances are you’ve seen me running to change a diaper before “3, 2, 1…” or nursing my baby between squat sets. As a crossfitter who just had two babies in two years, the majority of the questions I get are about my body and my children. How I “bounced back” or how I fit gym time into my day. The questions are always tinted with mix of wonder and guilt. Shouldn’t I be focused on my kids instead of spending all that time at the gym?
One of the best pieces of advice as a new mom that I ever received was from a fellow Crossfit mom. It was my first week back to the gym postpartum. I was struggling to hold an empty bar above my head as my oldest fussed a few feet away in his car seat. Not only did I feel physically weak; I was in the eye of that post-baby hormone storm. I couldn’t shake the shame of trying to workout while my baby “needed” me. My friend could read it on my face.
She asked if he had a dirty diaper.
“And he has a full belly right?”
“And he can see you. He’s fine. He’s taken care of. You do you right now. You will be a better mom for it. Trust me.”
I think of her at least once every time I am at the gym. I spread the word anytime I see another mom with that all too familiar face on.
The focus on mothers in Crossfit is usually about pregnancy. What pregnant women are capable of in the gym, how they are fit for labor and delivery, how they bounce back.
All of that is awesome, it really is. Crossfit helped me have two healthy pregnancies, two smooth deliveries, and two healthy babies. I love my body more now than ever.
But that’s not all that motherhood and Crossfit is about.
The other day I was at the grocery store with both boys. I was frantically stuffing giant leaves of Romaine into a plastic bag, eyeing my two year old across the aisle, perched in the front of a shopping cart. I watched him pluck a grape from the stand next to him and pop it into his mouth. He reached for another and stashed it in his pocket.
“Alexander! No, just…”
I had already come up with so many reasons that day for him that I was stumped.
He side eyed me, trying to evaluate if I was aware of the grape in his pocket. I twisted the produce bag closed and tossed it into the cart. An older man in a Vietnam Vet cap chuckled as he walked by.
I took a deep breath and headed up front to check out. I dread the shelves of candy bars and gum, always envisioning a burst of Altoids and M&Ms scattering in the air like confetti.
He chomped down on the secret grape and stretched his juice-covered hands up to the sky, signaling he wanted to be picked up. I lifted him out of the cart and his shoe comes off.
He yelped, “My shoe!” before it even hit the ground.
I set him down and reached for the toddler shoe with a ketchup stain on the toe.
“No, I do it!”
I took a deep breath.
He plopped down and dunked his toes into the shoe, furrowing his eyebrows.
I am not inherently a patient person.
I am a type of tired that catnaps and words cannot reach.
But, he needs to do it.
Mothers are all too aware that these tiny moments in the day are the building blocks of the little people we are responsible for raising. That day, Alexander learned to put his own shoe on. After trying hundreds of time before, that was the day he jumped up with his hands in the air and yelled “Did it!”.
As moms we forget about ourselves. We forget that the biggest impressions we have on our children happen when we’re just going about our day.
This morning, like most mornings, I loaded up the double BOB and hauled it into the gym. Set both kids up with snacks and teethers galore in an attempt to get some snatch sets in after coaching a class.
I load plates on. I pull under and stand. Rinse and repeat.
On my second to last snatch for the day, the bar comes out in front of me and I bail the lift, landing on my butt. Alexander looks up for a second and then goes back to playing with his Matchbox cars.
I take a deep breath, get up, set up, and pull under it, this time standing up with the weight.
Two little hands clap, nearly missing each other.
Motherhood is getting up first and getting dressed last. Messes. Abandoned coffee cups in the microwave. Lots and lots of repetition. Crawling into bed at night wondering if you are doing a good job. Wondering what you need to practice.
It’s been two and a half years since I became a mom and I am just starting to see that the many parts of me that make me a mother, the uncomfortable parts, the hard parts, are what make me an athlete too. Patience. Humility. Dedication.
Every day I walk into the gym with a resounding faith that I can be better than yesterday.
We are steadfast in this belief.
Lifting a barbell isn't just about losing the baby weight or fitting into that new bikini.
It’s about leading by example.
We do not quit. We put work in, even, if on that particular day, it’s the last thing we want to do. We do it because it makes us better. Stronger.
As mothers we are strong so we can raise strong men and women.
And just because we practice this self-care does not mean that we are selfish.
Everyday our children should wake up with that same faith that they can and will be better than yesterday.
“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself into one.” –James A Froude