I teach Pilates one night a week. I love it. It’s something I’m passionate about and something I am so grateful to be able to do. My class is at 7:30PM on Monday evenings and the studio is only a few minutes away from home so I’m able to have dinner with my family and start the bed time routine before I walk out the door. Usually by the time I leave the house, the baby is already asleep and the two big kids are dressed in their jammies and ready for stories with Daddy. As far as jobs go, this one is pretty easy on my family.
Or so you would think.
My kids give me a guilt trip every single time I leave the house to teach. Maybe it’s because they are tired after a long day and they want me to tuck them in. It’s not a little guilt trip. It is FULL ON water works most Monday nights by at least one of them. I can’t stand it.
The other night, Will looked like he was possessed when I was leaving. He was so mad at me, so upset that I would leave him to teach. For one hour. One night of the week. I explained I had to go – that it is my job and other people are counting on me. That I would be back soon – I always come back.
Things he yelled at me, while sobbing:
“It’s not your job! Your job is taking care of ME!!!”
“You don’t HAVE to do it! You WANT to do it!!!”
“Why do you have to go!!!!???? Don’t go!!! I NEED YOU HERE!!!”
It broke my heart to walk away from him, but I believe some day he will understand. I hang onto the hope that some day, in some way, this is actually good for him. Good for him to see me doing something I love. Good for him to have a mom who is multi-dimensional, passionate about lots of things, driven to fill her life with things she enjoys and to help others as a teacher. I believe that though he can’t see it now, he will one day understand that as much as I love teaching and coaching and creating growth charts – I love my children and my family the MOST. That there is room in my heart for all of my loves and passions and that nothing – and I mean NOTHING – is more important to me in this life than my role as mother to my children. That my other jobs serve many purposes, possibly the greatest of which is to make me a happier, better more balanced mother.
I can’t explain that to him now in a way that he will understand, at least not in the moment when he is losing his cool and unable to understand anything at all. I just have to trust that one day, he will get it and he will not only forgive me but be grateful to me for it.
I hate to think of the number of times that I have left my house on my own (whether to teach a class, to go for a run, to get a haircut or have a night out with my girlfriends) and have had to pull a screaming child off my leg, hear one or more of my kids wailing uncontrollably or worse all three of them in unison crying and yelling at me not to go. It is awful every single time. It doesn’t get easier. I feel extremely guilty for it, but in my heart I know I am doing right by them.
When I got to the studio the other night, Robert sent me a text a few minutes before my class started. He told me not to worry, that the baby was asleep and both big kids had calmed down. Everyone was happy. I could relax and let go of the tension in my heart. I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am for the man I married. When I walk out the door on nights like that or early in the morning for my runs and races, HE is the one left to deal with the distraught children who want their mommy. He is amazing in every possible way. He comforts them. He cooks for them. He engages their minds and their creativity. He supports me – and he shows them that it is important to support the ones we love, even when it would certainly be easier for us not to.
My class was AMAZING on Monday night. It was the largest class that I have ever taught – a full studio! My students come from all walks of life. Everyone has their own imbalances, their own challenges – physically, mentally, emotionally. They are all unique individuals and I am just so honored to help them along their journey to living pain free, active lives. To help them connect with their inner strength and do something that is SO good for their bodies, their minds and their spirits. I left the class feeling renewed – feeling so grateful to teach Pilates.
When I came home, my happiness was evident to my husband. He asked me how class went (he always does) and then told me that Abby was waiting for me upstairs. I went upstairs to kiss her good night and she said to me:
“Mommy, why do you have to teach on MONDAY nights!? I mean, Monday is my library day at school, and it just really upsets me that you have to teach on MY library day.”
Am I the only one that does not see the connection between library day and me teaching? I asked Abby what about me teaching on Monday night impacted her library day at school. It just wasn’t clear to me…
“Library day is just really exciting to me! And then when you teach, you RUIN that for me.”
Oh. my. goodness. Are you kidding me? I tried very hard not to smile. Or drop my jaw to the floor.
I explained to Abby that I was sorry she felt that way, that my teaching ruined her exciting day. That I hoped she could look at it differently, at least some day. I told her how happy teaching makes me, and that I hoped she would find something some day that she loves to do the way I love to run and teach Pilates. And that she would see that when she does, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her family more than anything in the world, not even close.
After kissing her good night, I walked into my room and took a deep breath. WHAT a roller coaster ride this mothering thing is. So many emotional ups and downs.
I KNOW that my kids know I love them. Often times when I tell them that, they sigh and say “I know, Mommy. You tell us that every day.”
I also know that my running and coaching and my teaching and my growth chart making all make me who I am, and that these things help me feel happy and balanced. And I believe that a happy mom is a better mom. My kids will see that one day. One day they will understand and they may even be thankful to me for it. I hope so, anyway.