Thursday, December 10, 2009


The other day I was at the gym working out with a new friend. We were on the step climbers, trying to get our bums to lift up a bit and not sag down in our mommy jeans. I was feeling really good about our workout because we had already done the treadmill and eliptical trainer and were on our third aerobic circuit before hitting the weights. I was definitely all sweaty and smelling and while I could still hold up my end of the conversation, being a little short of breath was making me be a better listener. Seemed like a really productive time at the gym to me. I was feeling all healthy and athletic.

And then the Boot Camp lady with the amazing arms walked up and started pushing my friend's resistance up on her stair climber. Turns out my friend had taken Boot Camp at our gym last year a few times a week and was obviously not working hard enough for the instructor. We, as the perfectionists that we are, starting working out harder, at least until the Boot Camp lady walked away and we were safe to slow down.

I love the idea of Boot Camp at the gym. I would like to do the class one day. Actually I don't ever really want to work out that hard, but I would love to have those arms and abs. I would also like to know that I could do it, that I could survive that class without laying on the ground in the the fetal position in a pool of my own sweat crying to just let me stop. I want the results without all the work. And after talking to my friend, it turns out the work is not just getting into shape and then you are done. No, you have to keep working out that hard and then harder to keep those arms and flat stomach. I like the idea, but not sure I am up for the follow through.

See, I am in a place of maintaining in my life. This started as pure survivalism when I had the kids. I started at the gym because they had two hours of free childcare a day. It was the one place I could go, turn on my own music, read a book and just zone out and walk on the treadmill while someone else entertained my kids. And in the mommy world of self sacrifice, taking care of my body, my health, was one selfish thing I could do that I could justify as benefiting my kids directly. Over time, as my kids got more self sufficient and our schedules got busier, going to the gym became less of a necessity for sanity and more of a desire to get a bit of stress out each week while avoiding having to buy the bigger jeans. But when the necessity was gone the consistency was gone too. And no where was I going to the gym to really work out, to really work hard. I was not about pushing my body too hard, just hard enough to get what I wanted which was a little stress reduction and to tick off the workout portion of my list of things I should be doing. I keep telling myself that when the kids are all in school I will start getting more serious about my workouts, that right now I am just maintaining, doing enough to stay healthy, but not really doing enough to get in shape.

I started thinking more about this idea of maintaining. I am looking through my life and see maintenance as my motivation. Not excellence, not greatness. Maintenance.

I used to be a perfectionist, probably as a response to my people pleasing nature. But I realized that was not going to work for me as a mom. I could not be the perfect mom. I was never going to be able to do it all because I actually need a little thing called sleep. I can be the good enough mom. I can maintain in my life. I keep telling myself - Someday. This applies to the laundry, the clutter piled on my desk, my Trader Joe's frozen dinners, my liberal take on screen time for the kids, as well as my relationship with God. Someday, I will have a working filing system I use every day. Someday, I will cook every meal from scratch and my kids will eat it. Someday, I will spend time every day reading the Bible, spending time studying God's word, in prayer and meditation.



  1. serious.

    I know that's a lame response to well thought out and developed post - with examples and leaders even!) but it's all I've got a this point.

  2. "Not excellence, not greatness. Maintenance."

    Thank you for finding a word for it! I am there as well. And we seem to have perfectionist and "peace maker" aspects in common too (I am the "middle one" of 3 boys). However, perfection does not work being the primary care parent! I really need to stop stressing about that and enjoy the journey more...
    Love and Miss you.