Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Best Me Today Makes Them Better Tomorrow

So this post is kind of twofold but it is kid focused.  My children are not my life but they are certainly at the center with their dad.  All three of them have impacted my life tremendously.  This is about the kids today.  Maybe I'll talk about the husband another day.

One of the biggest things I want for my kids is for them to "never look back".  This idea is from an article I read years ago.  The point of the article was simple that when kids grow up confident, they will move forward in life and won't look back to their parents - because they know that their parents will always be there.
Think about that for a second, really think on it.  Imagine, you wanted to be a stuntman.  You would start with small stunts and work your way up to leaping off buildings.  By the time you are flying backwards off buildings, there is one thing you are certain of - there will be something there to catch you.  You would be okay with doing those stunts because every other time you've done them, you've been caught.  You consistently fall but know you will always get back up.
Guess what?  Parents are that safety net, the giant inflatable catching the falls.
Every time kids try something new, good parents are right there. Whether that something new is easy or hard; hated or loved; stimulating or boring, the kids need to know that their parents are there.
And every time we adults support them, those kids learn we are there.

At first they will keep checking to make sure but soon that will stop.  Not because they are "too big" but because they know who's behind them.  Who is there to catch them if and when the fall.

I want my kids to move confident throughout their lives, so much so that they don't need to see me or talk to me to know that I'm there should they want me there.

I believe that self confidence is crucial to leading a content, happy life - to succeeding how you want to succeed.  I know from my own experience that my confidence wasn't that strong as a pre-teen.  Then a made a series of choices from where I went to high school to joining the military.  When I came home from the military, I felt the difference in how I perceived myself and it didn't matter what others thought.  Then the addition of a supportive relationship to work out some more kinks and there are people I know today who cannot picture me as the person I was.  Let's be honest, some of it is just growing up.  But I wouldn't have made the decision to join the service without knowing my parents had my back.  I had friends and teachers who told me that it was a bad choice and basically that I would be deployed and they would never see me again.  It sucked.  At home though, my choice was respected and that helped me push through the naysayers and navigate that minefield.
To this day, my military service remains (in my head) one of the best decision I ever made. 

Not to say everyone needs to join the military (I wouldn't even recommend it to some people) but at some point we all make a choice, a decision, that is made infinitely easier or harder by the people standing behind us.  And having the people who have been there your whole life behind you - that makes it easier.

So, in line with the idea of wanting to have confident children who grow into confident adults, they must first have an example.

Every action I take in front of my kids send them a message.  A message about me, about adults, about behavior, about relationships. 
My husband and I have never fought - no, I am not exaggerating.  We both grew up in households where there was yelling and made an agreement not to have that in our house.  When we disagree about something, annoy each other, or even hurt each others feelings, it is handled without a fight, without screaming.  We handle our issues through honest communication - talking and listening.  The biggest thing is honest.  If a topic is "put to rest", we both have to agree to that and let it go (it does not become something to harp on 3 months later).  We solve problems through calm conversation.
What do my kids learn when they see that?
I hope they learn how important a communication is in a relationship.  How important honesty is in a relationship.
When I make a mistake, even to the kids, I apologize.  Yes, I do say "I'm sorry" to my son and mean it.  I hold myself to a set of standards of behavior and that includes admitting when I am wrong.
I hope they see and learn that lesson too.
I always say "please", "thank you", "you're welcome", and "may I?"  Because how will they learn, unless they see someone else doing the very things we adults are always telling them to do.  And yes, that does mean that when I forget, my 7 year old will correct me.  I'm okay with that, since I correct him too.

This is why I part of why I want to be a better me.  If I am constantly pushing myself to try new things, to explore my boundaries, then that is what my kids will see.
I don't hide that I go to the gym to go running - my son wants to come with me.  I have to remind him he can't go yet but I'll take him once he's old enough.  When I try a new food, I'll tell him about it.  He is then more willing to try something new too.  Just not too new because you know he didn't like it last time he tried his batcave...when I wasn't there (Translation: Too new/strange looking, check back later).  I'll take the victories I can get and we celebrate him trying new food.

Of course, as my daughter gets older, there will be different issues and different examples to set too.

I will seek to continuously grow and improve myself.  Not out of shame, disgust, peer pressure, or any other negative reason.  I will do it because I want to be better and more awesome than I already am.  And I will do it, so they know that you don't have to be perfect to be awesome and amazing and ultimately to be you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Worrying about Boys or Girls

I have come to the conclusion that I really loathe the statement (and it's various incarnations), "With a boy, you only have to worry about one penis but with a girl, you have to worry about all of them."
The sentiment basically boils down to - A girl can get pregnant and a boy can't.

So, why does this bother me?  Simple, it is inherently sexist and makes it sound like every daughter must be protected from villainous penises.

I have two kids, one of each.  I have to worry about both of them equally.  I would be just as concerned about my son impregnating a girl, as my daughter getting pregnant.  Why?  Because my son will be responsible for his actions.  If he gets a girl pregnant, you can bet he will be held responsible for that situation and all the headaches, heartaches, and changes that come with it.
He is being raised to understand his actions have consequences and he has responsibilities.  Right now, those have more to do with punishment for breaking stuff and making sure he dresses himself in the morning. 
If he ever finds himself in a situation with a pregnant girlfriend, he will be expected to step up to the plate in whatever capacity is required.

For my daughter, yeah, I don't want a pregnant teenage girl any more than a teenage expectant-father.  But I will not teach to run the other direction from boys.  I will teach her that she alone is responsible for her actions and her body.  And she can only hold herself accountable for them.

I want my children properly educated, so that whenever they decide sex is okay for them, they will approach it smartly.  Utilizing effective birth control measures if necessary (who knows, one or both may decide "not until marriage" and at the point they are okay with letting life happen). Not hooking up with someone while impaired.

I may have joked about a bullet-proof vest for the boy or picking buying a shotgun.  But truthfully, when the kids are teenagers, I just want them to live that time of their lives without worrying about an STD or baby or who knows what else.
I want them to experience high school as kids and nothing else.

Right now, these thoughts may seem out of place - my oldest is only 7 - but the foundation for the people my kids will become is laid down now.

I need to think about what kind of people I want my children to grow into now because by the time they become teenagers, some of it will be too late and some of it will require hard lessons.  I would rather start now and build a strong foundation.

Most important of all, I want them confident enough to be themselves inside and outside the home - whoever that self is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

To Run Again

At the start of this year and this blog, I had jumped back into the fitness game.  Then my work hours changed and the momentum that I'd built vanished.  I hadn't given up on it but I needed to reevaluate what was going on in my schedule and reconfigure things.
For the record, I'm routine based.  Changes to that, depending on the nature of the changes, can throw me off track for a while.
Hence, now, my work schedule has been altered again.  Which brings me back to a more favorable schedule.
I haven't been inactive since my "break" but it's be mostly limited to Saturdays when I'm out with the kids.  Our Saturdays involve a minimum of 1.5 hours of walking for me and running/walking for my son.  Typically, we are moving about for 2.5 hours.  But that is only one day a week and not enough for me.
So, I started thinking.  When I think of myself in terms of exercise, when did I feel at my best and most capable?  Running.  There was a time when I could run at 12 minute mile pace for what felt like forever.  I'd reach a zone and just go.  It was consistent and relaxing for me.  I also felt like I was amazing because I'd reached that point.
When this year started I focused on strength training because, in all honesty, strength training is the "most bang for your buck" in terms of exercise - particularly with free and body weight.  However, while I enjoyed feeling stronger, it didn't get to the same point that running did, the point where I just wanted to go.
One of the biggest things about any type of exercise is that if it feels like a chore, you are less likely to succeed.  There are always opportunities for excuses especially if it is something you really don't want to do.  However, an exercise you enjoy - soccer, dancing, weightlifting, etc. - you will go back to it over and over again because it isn't a chore.
I thought about that in terms of my own situation and realized while I like strength training, I didn't love it and wouldn't miss it.  I miss running.  I miss being able to hit my pace and not gasping at air.  I missed feeling awesome when I went a little bit further and little bit faster than the day before.  Those were success I could count on and feel every single time.  When I ran, I never stopped improving and never stopped pushing.  Running, I have realized, is my exercise of choice. 
Now it is time for me to pursue running again and I'm excited.  I'm looking forward to hitting the treadmill.  I'm thinking I might set mileage goals just for fun, once I get more established.

Right now, I might only do one day during the week to get started and back into the swing.  I need to rebuild a habit I lost and slow changes work best for me. This week, tomorrow actually, will be my first day back on the treadmill.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm looking forward to becoming a faster me.  Again.