When my kids were very young, we had just a little money. There were no babysitters or nannies. We didn’t even have grandparents to help us out as we had chosen to live on the opposite coast. When my son, Dash, was around four years old, I decided that it was time for him to bond with his father. So with gentle persuasion on my part (my husband might describe it as a little more like a brick hammer) they enrolled in this karate class together.
Then, of course, my hubbies job kicked into high gear and he had to work on Saturday mornings, when he was supposed to be bonding with his son, so naturally, being an over ambitious mother, I decide that I can bond for both of us. I start karate too.
Then my daughter Olivia is born and I want to get back into good shape. By this time, all three of us…mom, dad and Dash are all front kicking, kibadaching and counting to ten in Japanese. When Olivia is six months old, she starts crawling around the classroom. I am starting to get some very dark looks from other people in the class. All well and fine, ‘cos I always appreciate the blackbelt apprentice disliking me intensely. Except for the wee fact, that the Sensei had expressly told me that he was very supportive of my child experiencing her full crawl technique in his classroom…something to do with the idea that his pupils should always be aware of every movement in their vicinity, and fear of kicking an infant would keep them all wide-awake and alert. When Olivia was not exercising her new found ability to get in other peoples personal space, she definitely had the need to hold on to my legs, sometimes one, sometimes the other, mostly both…this really put a wrench in my front kick ability.
Why continue you might be asking yourselves right now? Well, oftentimes, I didn’t. I would just sit out for half of the class. But there was something about watching my son get exercise, when I so desperately needed it, that made sitting and watching from the sidelines too frustrating.
There came a day when I was practically in tears by the end of the class. Olivia had decided that she wanted to do the class with me cuddling her. When I held her, she was soft and cooing like soft little kitten and if I put her down she decided to work on her hyena crying technique.
I was ready to give up. The whole class was looking at me like I was crazy, everyone was progressing more quickly that I. It was just so frustrating. Trying to hold my tears under control, I went to the Sensei to quit.
Before I could speak through my wet eyes and croaky voice, the Sensei said…Nicole, never give up. You can only do what you can do with what you’ve got. Don’t expect anything more from yourself or anything less. Be comfortable in the space that you are in. You have two wonderful small children, a class that supports you (Did they really? Maybe they did). It’s okay to be here in this moment.
So that’s what I do now. When it seems like I can’t climb the mountain, take another moment of parenting…I just remember that I am doing what I can do with what I have. It makes me feel better.