This past week my children have been pushing my limits. Normally, when they push my limits, this means they’ve worn me down until I’m at the very brink of sanity, but this week they’ve been pushing me a little differently.
For the past few weeks I’ve been part of a fitness challenge. It is simply an online challenge that walks me through 30 days of increasingly intensive workouts. I’ve been cursing the program since I started, but I’ve shown up religiously each day.
The other night my youngest two decided to join in with my work out. For 40 minutes, we did planks and side crunches, jumping jacks and downward dogs – all kinds of horrific things! When the forty minutes were over, I was feeling pretty good. I’d built up a sweat and was ready to move on to the next part of my day. However, my daughter, who’d been having a great time working out saw the next video on the list. “Let’s do that one now!” she said pointing to the Advanced Core and Ab workout popping up on the TV screen. She was still bouncing with energy, and not one to be outdone by a 5- year- old, I agreed. For the following 40 minutes the next video tried to destroy me. I’m pretty certain it was simply 30 minutes of planks followed by a side plank, followed by leg lifts followed by me crying on the floor. But we did it! When my second work out of the evening was over and I was covered head to toe in sweat and tears, my son, who’d been working out along side us clapped his hands and said “good, now we’ve done our yoga, let’s work out!” and he passed me a set of weights he had found while I cried into my water bottle. So, I followed up my double work-out with a set of weights.
The next day, when I was sore and achy for all the right reasons I was begrudgingly thankful that my children had been there to give me that little extra ‘push’.
A few days later I had a long list of errands to get – baseball cleats, milk, swimming goggles, riding boots, deodorant. It was a whole mish-mash of items and I dreaded spending the following 4 hours getting them. Then it occurred to me that there is a store that one can go to where all the items I needed could be picked up in one single place. Relieved that I had remembered this store I loaded my kids into the car and we began my drive into town.
My eldest son asked where we were going… I instantly regretted telling him. About two years ago our family watched a documentary on ethical labour and fair wage. Horrified by what we saw in the documentary we did our research and discovered that there are a few big box style stores that do not source their products ethically and promote and use child labour. As a family we vowed never to go into any of the stores on that list. We have remained faithful to that goal. Until last week. Last week was busy and over scheduled, I had every minute accounted for and I wanted to save time and cut corners anyway possible. All I wanted to do was go to that ONE store. ONE stop to get the things I needed and be done with it. But my son would have none of that! “Do you think child labour is a good thing?” he asked me with a growl from the back seat. “No” I answered sheepishly. “Do you want to support people abusing children?!” he asked again, his voice rising in dismay. “No!” I agreed. “Then we are just going to have to go somewhere else to buy our things.” He concluded – and I knew he was right. We had very deliberately decided as a family not support places that used child labour. Did I want to go to a store that had everything I needed in one place? Yes! Would I have gone if my kids weren’t with me? Maybe. But instead I redirected the van and began the circuit of stores that I needed to get my products.
I was inconvenienced and convicted by my son’s inquiries, but that evening, when I was pleased with the cleats I found on sale and the quality of the other products I’d bought that evening. I was glad I had no guilt or remorse over my purchasing. I’d made good decisions, but only because my son had given me that little extra ‘push’.
The final push came this week by my son who has set a personal goal to be able to read chapter books by the end of grade one. This is not a goal set by his teacher or his parents, but one he came to on his own. Each night we read through his books, over and over again we read about little ducks baking cakes, and pigs building houses and dogs being scared of thunderstorms. My son’s doing really well, but the books themselves… more than a little tedious!
One night this past week I wanted to skip reading with him. I’d be out at a meeting, it was late, my husband was on night shift, I didn’t want to find out what was happening with Taco and Orson this week, I wanted to go to bed! So, I made a deal that we’d read extra in the morning, secretly hoping he’d forget.
The next morning my son woke up bright and early and met me in the living room, book in hand. “Do you really want to read this morning?” I asked hoping he’d choose early morning cuddles or 20 more minutes in bed. “I don’t want to read.” He said, book still in hand as he climbed onto my lap. “But I need to reach my goal, so I have to.” Then he opened his book and began to read.
He would rather have been watching his television shows or sleeping a little longer that morning, but the seven-year-old had a goal and he had to stick to his plan in order to reach it. Watching him push himself has given me a renewed sense this week of the need to push myself. To look at what is ultimately important to me, my goals and priorities and do what ever I need to do to make those a reality. That morning I got out my white board and created a detailed plan to reach my own goals. All I needed was his little ‘push’.
Kids push us, push us to be better, push us to expand our horizons and set new goals, push us to stick to our convictions, push us to work harder, plan better, and stick things out even when we want to give up.
I’m not always thankful for my kids pushing me, but this past week, I truly believe I was better for it. So, thanks kids for that ‘push’ and for making me be a better version of myself.