A while back, I was asked to write a blog for a female CrossFit/strength training page. I was under the pump at the time, so I don’t believe it ever saw the light of day – I just found I in the notes of my phone. I thought I’d post it now, because it’s my truth, and it will always be relevant to me as I’m sure it is to many of you.
Last week I went to the launch of the Lululemon ‘Define Strength’ campaign. This is not my definition, but this is why I choose strong. Then, now and always.
It goes a little something like;
It got me thinking about when I had 2 babies in 19 months. Ryan was working FIFO (fly in fly out), and gone half the time. I used to do 7 days straight solo parenting 2 babies. I also was running a client based business from home, managing staff and clients.
Our house was a building site, the old deck had been knocked down (waiting a new build), so the doors/windows were boarded up through summer. I used to sit in a rocking chair in our ‘lounge room’ wearing sunglasses rocking/breastfeeding one (sometimes both) babes to sleep. It used to take me TWO HOURS – no exaggeration- to rock Ami to sleep. Day and night. And if I pulled up early, and attempted to put her down so I could grab a drink/food/cuddle another babe, she would wake up and I’d be back to square one. The start of another 2 hour stint in the chair.
My children didn’t sleep. Like DID NOT sleep. I’m not exaggerating when I say some nights were 2 hours of broken sleep. I had no one to help during the night, and no one to help the next day. If the kids did happen to miraculously nap at the same time during the day, I couldn’t rest because I had to prepare dinner or catch up on things that kept the wheels in motion. The joys of solo parenting. Ryan was very hands on when he was home, he’d often fly home after working 7 x 12 hour night shifts so his exhaustion level was high as well, and the first few days of his time at home would be spent recovering (both of us).
Some days were so long, and so hard. I’ll go so far as saying I was not ok for a while. On the surface, I’d tell you I was fine, but if that surface had been scratched, I was far from it.
The only person I would have taken comfort from at that time had died a short while before before I had my first bub, and I was doing it tough. I was struggling with immense grief, and immense joy. Some days I couldn’t tell them apart. Some days they felt one and the same.
I had some support from friends, my aunt and my dad.
I didn’t ask for help, and I frequently knocked back offers of assistance. I had people on the periphery, but I didn’t really let people in. In hindsight, I had a support network that would have done anything for me, but I let my tough/stubborn exterior get the better of me. I found it confrontating to watch my MIL take joy from my babies as my mum was denied such a pleasure. She was another supporter that I frequently didn’t call on for assistance when I could have. But I struggled navigating that relationship at that point in time.
Going to the gym or CrossFit, and challenging myself physically was my escape. My only escape. I found solace in punishing workouts. I found a sport that I loved (CrossFit), I found strength training, I found a community, a passion, and I found something to look forward to everyday. It was also something that was purely my own, purely for me. Something I could take ownership of, and be proud of.
I showed myself that by building myself up physically, I was also building myself up emotionally and mentally too.
I gave myself the tools I needed to get through the days. Quite often I was tired and worn down, driven to points of exhaustion I never knew existed. But I showed up anyway. People used to say ‘oh but you must be so tired’ or ‘do you really think you should be doing that’ and so on. I coped shit from many corners about it ‘you’ll get injured’ ‘you’ve joined a cult’ ‘you’re drinking the cool aid.’ (Insert much flicking of the bird, to put it politely)
I really had no other idea on how to handle the massive wash of emotions that I was, the massive job that lay in front of me let alone finding some energy and some fun for my babies!
So next time you see a mum taking her kids to the gym and, heaven forbid, putting them into the crèche, don’t be so naive as to judge. You have no idea what her days/nights look like! Maybe she just needs a hour to pretend she’s working out, just so she can take a fucking shower. Or maybe she needs some time without a crying baby at her ankle. Or maybe she’s just there, getting fucking strong for herself and no one else. Maybe we should give her a high five instead being judgemental?
I have learnt to accept help from others when they offer it. I have also learnt to ask for help when I need it. But through sport I have learnt to equip myself with the mental/emotional/physical fortitude that my journey of motherhood requires.
So there you go, that’s my story of why I chose strong. Of why I chose strong then, of why I choose it now, and of why I’ll continue to choose it in every chapter, and season of my life. I shudder to think of what may have been if I didn’t.