Heart of the Family – Mom’s fitness example adapts and inspires

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One of the wonderful things about young children is how unabashedly they exude qualities we long to see in ourselves. Exuberance for someone or something is never fabricated. That regulator is not yet in place that will someday encourage them to weigh others’ opinions/judgment before deciding what they enjoy. Self-censoring and acting out of obligation haven’t entered the picture. They wear their little hearts on their little sleeves.

And our little ones are passionate about almost everything. The passion pecking order may shuffle quite regularly, but they don’t approach things half-heartedly, whatever the game or puzzle or attempt to color between the lines. Their passion and enthusiasm is innate and unbridled. We cynical, jaded parents can scarcely replicate its intensity (and certainly not its breadth). We have adapted over the years and have learned to narrow our scope—a more efficient and more practical approach to life.

But there are exceptions. Not quite a year ago, I mentioned, in this space, while introducing my family to the AFM readership, my wife’s passion for fitness. Julia still approaches fitness and an active lifestyle with childlike enthusiasm and intensity. These are her passion. I would say this passion used to be reserved primarily, if not completely, for running. But, as much as she still loves and craves her runs, I’ve witnessed her passions expand to incorporate more and more forms of activity.

Becoming a personal trainer probably had something to do with this. Achieving her certification unlocked her creative fitness side as she conceived of more and more options for pairing cardio and weights into efficient, exhaustive workouts. Her inability to run quite as frequently also played a part. The pounding of five/six days a week was wearing down her knees and tiring out her legs. So she has incorporated more swimming and biking, revitalizing her body (and her running).

But the introduction of kids into our universe has factored in heavily as well. If necessity is the mother of invention, can it also sire passion? Julia loves a brisk jaunt to the playground with our brood, followed by climbing, swinging, and games of chase. She now has almost as much passion for running or rollerblading alongside scooters and a jogger as she has for a solitary run. Splashing in and running from waves with the kiddos is embraced nearly as much as a long, impact-free swim.

All this passion is contagious. I like to think our kids turn it up another notch when they feel Mommy’s enthusiasm. And between her passion and their passion, I really don’t stand much of a chance. The last thing I want to be is the house-bound anchor dragging everyone else down. My enthusiasm and passion for a life of activity has indeed blossomed. And my scope has widened rather than narrowed.

I may very well be worn out after the fact, but I can crave an intense round of tennis or racquetball and still come home geared-up for an inter-generational trampoline smackdown. And then cycle Davis and Hudson through pitch after pitch of batting practice with their miniature Louisville Sluggers. Why must we always conserve and allocate? My family knows not how to operate that way and I am glad of it. Long live the days of spreading our passion thin.

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