About a month ago, I was at the gym. A small group of us was rotating through a circuit of six new exercises in the weight room. When it was my turn on the bench press, the bench was at a different angle, completely changing the exercise – making it feel so much heavier than it did the week before. As I pushed through the reps, the trainer spotting me as I struggled said, “Don’t think about it. Just get through it.”
It is not natural for me to find myself at the gym. While now it is just part of my weekly routine, I have never been a talented athlete. But over the years I have recognized the need to keep my body healthy. While none of us knows what the future will bring, when I think about the sedentary life my mother once led, along with her poor eating habits, I know I want to do things differently. So I exercise, in the morning, the time that works best for me. I am home before my children even get out of bed. But they know that I go to my class, working to keep myself healthy and strong.
But here’s the thing about the gym. There is no finish line, no medal to collect, no post-race celebration. Once I master an exercise, or sometimes, just get used to it, it gets changed up, either with heavier weights or an entirely new movement, leaving me back at the beginning, breathing hard, sometimes cursing, as needed. But I keep going.
Don’t think about it. Just get through it.
The same thing happens at home. The constant juggling of baseball, deadlines at work, running, grocery shopping, birthday parties, dance, time with extended family and friends, cooking, playdates, laundry, soccer – a different circuit of activity, often catapulting me to bed by 9:30pm.
Then, as soon as things feel comfortable or even manageable, it gets changed up, with a sick child, a spouse working extra hours, a holiday, an extended work seminar out of town, a lucky night away, and our precariously balanced life shifts, sending us sideways, sometimes cursing, as needed. But we keep going.
Here is what I have found: As life gets busier, and work gets more challenging, and the once-calm weeks seem to explode into a maelstrom of kid activities, we all, somehow, step up. We may not always be the best versions of ourselves. Or use our inside voices. It may not always be graceful, painless, or with perfect form.
But we get through it, together. And we keep going. Learning that we can get beyond our comfort zone and do more than we thought we could do. Finding joy and pride in all we have been able to accomplish, somehow, moving forward without looking too far back.
And then, we definitely all need recovery time.
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