By Grace Diaz Herrera – Proud Mother of Three
As we celebrate and honor all mothers this Sunday, I find myself thinking back to a blog I wrote a few years ago.
5 years ago, married with three kids, I dared to do something for myself. Just. For. Me. It was just an hour. I wanted to workout! I was a typical busy mom running around all day with errands, chauffeuring the kids for hours, sitting through taekwondo, basketball, hip hop classes, etc….every day, prepping for school/work, trying to keep up with housework, and slowly chipping away at the endless to-do lists that never quite end.
I found Illumine and fell in love. Illumine and all the wall balls, and the running (yeah, even running) became my guilty pleasure. Like all Moms, anything I did for myself felt guilty – even burpees! Once I took my first class, I still had the typical life of a mom of 3. Busy 9 and 6-year old boys, and dragging in tow my 2-year old daughter everywhere we went. My guilty pleasure was sporadic at first. It took about a year to even commit to the decision of starting at Illumine, but I was finally ready to be selfish!
Little did I know how my selfish journey would benefit my kids.
As I dragged them with me to classes, often having to stop to either check on the sleeping toddler, or to warn the boys to stay out of trouble, off equipment, and out of harm’s way, they soon became more aware, interested and focused on the same very movements and fundamentals I was learning. Or so I thought. The movements were the easy lessons for them, but what I didn’t expect were the life lessons they were about to gain! There truly are so many, but here’s the obvious:
· Hard Work Does Pay Off – My kids never really got to see me at “work” or the hours put in, but witnessing my sweat, aches, humility, frustrations, and even some tears, they are more excited for “mommy” as I accomplished new skills.
· Face Your Weaknesses – We all have them, yet most people downplay or avoid talking about them or just “talk up” their strengths. Yet at the box, struggle is evident every day as we tackle weaknesses with the goals. My kids have seen my weaknesses and have become my biggest cheerleaders at my side.
· Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – Failures happen to the best of us. When my all-star son told me holding back tears that he didn’t make the soccer team, I cried for him. But that same day after watching the determined athletes at the Illumine do things like box jumps and even muscle up with multiple fails, he was inspired and decided he would be trying out again next year. I couldn’t be prouder.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius
· Self-Respect – As we try as parents to teach respect to our children, I have found more importantly the need to help them develop and discover self-respect and self-esteem, especially in this day and age where bullying has become a nationwide issue. At Illumine, we receive praises, bright spot recognition and high-fives daily! We know its okay to jump up for joy and yell for pride after finishing a workout, getting our first muscle-ups, or beating your last benchmark time – heck, showing up! It’s a huge lesson that kids know its okay celebrate and feel the love of their successes (small or large) as they gain more self-confidence and self-respect.
· Compassion for Others – We all came to Illumine to get a “good workout” in, but what we didn’t realize was how emotionally close we get to each other day in/day out. No matter what our own struggles and issues outside of the gym, we have also come together as a family to support our fellow athletes. My kids have experienced other athletes’ personal issues with regards to family, dogs, relocation, illnesses, deaths, etc., while having the opportunity in addition to volunteering, donating, raising awareness and money for those in need. They have shed tears, supported, participated, wrote school papers, and each year recognize our Illumine vets at their school. Again, another proud mom moment.
· Teamwork and Sportsmanship – Working with a team or partner during partner workouts or participating in a competition brings on enthusiasm and exhilaration when tackling difficult workouts together, while there is the anxiety and pressure as you do your parts. Seeing the strategizing, the moving parts, and roles we all play to make it work best, has taught my kids what is needed to work together. And, as we may not win and even have to accept the bad calls, they see we are still congratulating and applauding opposing teams. It’s important for kids to know that good sportsmanship carries the respect and how to hold their heads up high knowing they did their best.
Tying all of these together, the lesson of putting it all out there has been a huge eye opener for me as an adult as well. Whether its not being confident, uncomfortable, worried what people may say or think, or just facing my own pride, we usually don’t like to show all our cards and our vulnerability. Never would I have believed that I would be in my 40’s and taking on the movements I do, like box jumps, and even participating in some CrossFit and Olympic Lifting competitions. Whenever I have been scared and intimidated, even with my husband and kids at my side, there came that liberating feeling that overcomes and pushes you. It’s something that has made me want to go after more challenges.
I don’t want my kids to be afraid to go after what make them scared or what may not seem like the cool thing to do. Being vulnerable and putting yourself out there is about letting go of any failures, being honest and okay with yourself. I don’t want my kids to miss opportunities or miss making differences in people’s lives. I don’t want them to be afraid to fail, and especially I don’t want them to be afraid to succeed.
My plunge into Illumine did take care of my body, mind and soul as I should have expected it would. But I realized that it was NOT selfish. My body, mind and soul are crucial and I taught myself and the kids that it’s necessary for a healthy, emotional and positive life for all of us. What I did not expect is the impact on my kids my journey would bring.
We forget that we are their first teachers, their first role models, their first idols and their first loves. They learn best from our examples…good and bad. And that’s the real challenge: being that positive example as often as possible. I am thankful for Illumine and my “selfish” journey. It has and continues to bring more opportunities for my children to learn firsthand from the experiences my husband and I have shown them, as well as our awesome athlete. These life lessons (and many more) are those you just can’t teach. Hopefully its lessons they will carry and use for the rest of their lives.
Happy Mother’s Day!