Today I accomplished an amazing feat: I left the house BY MYSELF, to go and do shopping FOR MYSELF. That's right, an entire trip to the mall without a single purchase for either kid. Five years ago, I could never have imagined how rare this would become. Prior to Stroller Strides and the gradual process of reclaiming my own identity in the midst of the new mom whirlwind, it only happened once in a blue moon, despite the encouragement of my husband.
What I love about what I do, is that it is not just a physical fitness program. There are Stroller Strides t-shirts that say "Fit for Motherhood" across the back. I have always liked this, it is a clever play on the exercise component and yet there are so many deeper meanings. Regular workouts that include cardio and strength training are critical for improving stamina and energy, and giving moms the muscle strength to carry their kids/carseats/baby luggage everywhere they go, to walk the halls with a sleepless infant or lift a toddler safely out of their crib. Improving sprint speed to catch up with a running kid hell-bent on a parking lot or a lake is no joke! But the benefits are so much beyond physical.
Exercise gives us more patience to weather the trials of motherhood. Countless times in the last month I have found myself in a grocery store or other setting, while my kids are pushing all my buttons, doing "Three big breaths, and our final and most important stretch of the day: A SMILE" in my head, forcing myself to relax and breath deep, find a smile and be the best mom I can be. I say this phrase to classes of moms every single day, and I love that it helps me live and love the rest of my day.
Another aspect of Stroller Strides that has also been life-changing for me - aside from being in better shape now than ever - is the absolute certainty that one day each month, I have a date with some of the most inspiring moms I know. Moms Night Out. These are magical words! Whether we are grabbing a bite to eat, heading for a hike or going to a yoga class, and even if we spend a good deal of the time talking about our kids - these are some fabulous opportunities to build a supportive community of moms. Getting to know each other outside of class is awesome. When we go out and everyone shows up in not-workout clothes with their hair done, we may hardly recognize each other. These events are a chance to reclaim a little of ourselves outside of our kids, to go by our own first name instead of "Baby's Mom".
So today, when I left the house BY MYSELF, I went shopping. I got some great deals (surprise sales at the mall, gotta love that!) on some very cute new shirts that I bought because I know I have some hot dates with some hot moms in the next few weeks. Tomorrow, I will get up early and leave again BY MYSELF to do a run with a friend who is also going to run BY HERSELF with me.
It's okay to give yourself permission to experience a little of your own company in the absence of your little ones. Going to the office doesn't count, working moms! Make a date with a friend, come to a Moms Night Out (we will meet this Monday 9/12 at Organic Oasis at 7pm!) or just head out for a walk or run on your own - NO STROLLER - and don't forget to keep sight of the ME in mommy.