I am having a mom moment. This morning on the way to school with my almost 15 year-old son (our ten minutes of magic every day – there is a lot to be said for trapping a teenager in your car without any electronics attached to his appendages) we were listening to a radio show and a caller announced that she was going to run the Boston Marathon with her dad. We listened a bit and my son turned to me and said, “I think we should do that mom. Let’s run the marathon.” (ps: although an athlete, this is a kid who complains if he has to walk too far from our parking spot to the store and avoids playing the middie position in lacrosse as if his life depended on it. He is 14, 6’1 at the moment, 200 pounds with a size 15 shoe. Seriously—size 15.)
Okay, here is the mom-moment dialogue that went through my head:
OMG – THIS KID THINKS I CAN RUN A MARATHON. AND HE THINKS HE CAN, TOO. WHY DOES HE BELIEVE THIS MIRACULOUS THING?
My first thoughts were:
Here’s why he believes this: When he was 5, I signed him up for Tae Kwon Do and three months later, I signed myself up. He went on to see me spend eight years training and earn my second-degree black belt. He has seen me re-enter the work force after being home with him for 12 years and he has felt the power of tough-love as I helped him survive a very difficult divorce from my then husband of 21 years. He saw me start over with grace and fierce determination and a positive outlook. I taught him the power of truth and he knows that he will always get that from me - that is why he still talks to me about everything. He supported me through and witnessed me complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training and saw me begin teaching kids classes before the training was over.
Second round of thoughts:
A lost part of me was found when he was born. I taught him daily, everything I know and believe about living and I had to start living it again myself. Being positive, seeing the lesson, knowing life is a place to practice kindness and love no matter what. That karma is real. That we have control over our selves even when we do not have control over what is happening to us.
Third round it really hit me:
I have taught him how to act from a place of courage. How to never make a decision out of fear or anger. How to TRY and then decide. That trying is what matters, especially when you are afraid. And if you try and fail you have succeeded. Because it is the TRYING that counts, not the outcome. TRYING is the thing. I taught him that you are supposed to feel afraid when you do something new, and then you do it anyway—that is the only way you can know what you are capable of. I made him practice this his entire life. Whenever he was afraid of a new class, a new experience, a new food, a new city, a new social situation, I said, “Try it – if you don’t like it, then we can think about what to do next.” Was it excruciatingly hard at times? Yes. Did I have to endure tantrums, crying, arguing, and honest, painful fear on his part? Yes. Did I have to force him at times? Yes. Did I have to believe my own words and act on them? Yes. Was that hard for me to feel his pain and still push him onward? YES. And it worked. Life is a practice—a trying. Everyday and all the time. Life is exercising new muscles any chance you get. If you exercise the same metaphorical (and literal) muscle all the time, you can’t grow. And in fact you stagnate and over-use and eventually damage yourself and lose the juice of living. If you feel uncomfortable, then you are TRYING and therefore LIVING! If you are afraid, then you can bet you are about to accomplish something great, something life-changing. Not because of an outcome, but because you felt that fear and TRIED anyway. It is the TRYING that counts.
Having to raise my son and teach him to TRY has changed my life. Because I had to practice this with him. And prior to his birth, I had let go of this practice in my own life. My same muscles (metaphorical and otherwise) were over-used and I was damaged. Teaching him healed me. For the past 14 years I have said ‘YES LET’S TRY’ no matter how afraid or hard it seemed to do so. I start with YES and figure it out from there. And my son does that, too. He believes he can do anything. He will try anything. The TRY is alive in his system. And he uses it every day. Kids watch what we do, not what we say. Words are smoke, actions are the fire. I lived the practice I was teaching him. Now that practice lives in him. And that is my mom moment.
Oh, what I replied to him in the car this morning was: “Sure we can. We will have to start training now – we can find someone who knows how to train us. That will give us a year to get ready. We’ll need some good shoes, too. Better call Nike and tell them you’re coming—they might have to stitch two pairs together for you. (“Ha Mom…” eye roll) Let’s try.”
What was I really thinking? “Holy s-- t, this kid thinks I can do anything. He thinks he can do anything. I am going to have to TRY to run a marathon. I’ve created a monster. Thank God.”