One day I’m going to write a humorous children’s book. I even have the central character all picked out. It’s a camel. Truth be told, I’m the camel. As a mom of three active boys I always seem to be carrying a lot, and I don’t just mean stress. Even my handbag is weighted down. I call it my “Mom Bag,” and it contains everything from my youngest son’s Epi-Pen for his life threatening food allergies, to bandages, my emergency Luna Bar, mints, a lint brush, a deck of cards, an inflatable raft, a tire jack, a fire extinguisher… well, you get the idea of how heavy my Mom Bag is.
My Mom Bag is famous and, like Mary Poppins’ magic bag, my boys have come to expect that anything can come out of the Mom Bag at any time. One Fourth of July, while walking to see fireworks, we passed another mom tending to her daughter who had fallen and cut her knee. The little girl was crying inconsolably and the mom said, “Well, do you just want to go home then?” I stopped, whipped an antiseptic wipe and bandage out of my Mom Bag, and helped the mom tend to her daughter’s knee. I then handed the little girl a tissue and a glow stick and distracted her with a story about how boys are always getting into scrapes until she smiled and, as we walked away, the mom thanked me and then joked that I was the better mom. That last part isn’t true, but I’d put my Mom Bag up against anyone’s, any time. My oldest son said to me, “You were like a mom super hero!”
I live in multi-level house and, whether it is carrying the laundry basket up and down the stairs, bringing down recycling, carrying up groceries, or juggling the boys’ guitar, trumpet, fencing bag, stray play date, or whatever else they’ve either left around or forgotten, I’m carrying it. So much so that I’ve long since nicknamed myself “Chaklubah the Camel” and Chaklubah is going to be the central character in my future children’s book.
I’m not sure when I started referring to myself as Chaklubah, but I always seem to be carrying more than my fair share of stuff. This fact, however, won’t stop a child from looking to put one more iPhone, pair of glasses, toy, gadget or gizmo up on Chaklubah’s back. I can’t just blame the boys as, between my family, businesses, fitness blog and workout schedule, I multitask and juggle responsibilities like a circus clown. Perhaps in the children’s story Chaklubah also juggles to the delight of the villagers in the market place. One of my closest friends tells me that, rather than a camel, she feels like a donkey, pulling everyone and everything else behind her in a cart. She jokes that no matter how festively they try to dress up and decorate the donkey, it’s still a donkey. I can relate to this analogy as well, so perhaps Chaklubah’s sidekick is a donkey named Daphne.
Well, as the idiom foretells, there’s usually a straw that breaks the camel’s back. In Chaklubah’s case, I mean in my case, it was a bag of ice, not a straw. I was helping out at my middle son’s school dance. You’d think by now I’d have learned that no good deed goes unpunished and would have avoided being signed up on a committee, but you’d be wrong. I had been helping move bags of ice and loading up coolers with drinks for the dance and, the next day, I realized how much I reinjured my apparently-made-of-glass, spine. Everyone who is familiar with me knows that I truly have made working out like brushing my teeth, something I just do as a routine….no matter what. I say it’s my fear of “tomorrow turning into never” that keeps me in line. I talk to plenty of people who tell me all kinds of reasons why they can’t work out and I always try to impart on them that there are ways to modify your routine so that you can at least do something each day. After I hurt my back it took a lot for me to come to terms with the fact that I truly couldn’t do anything physical for a few days. All I could do was ice my back, go to my chiropractor or acupuncturist, and even get purple circles again from cupping, and just wait to feel better. After a couple of days of rest, I was able to do small amounts of time on the exercise bike.
Since “finding fitness,” as I describe it, I’ve realized how much self-awareness is required to stay on track. It takes a lot to know whether you really should rest to avoid risking injury, or if you can modify what sort of workout you do for the day… even if you’re looking for the slightest hangnail as an excuse not to have to exercise. So like Kenny Rogers sings in the Gambler, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” So, on the days when you feel like Chaklubah or Daphne, with the weight of the world on your shoulders, sometimes literally it seems, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether you need to take it easy so that you don’t prolong your inactivity by aggravating an injury, or if you’re able to vary your workout to incorporate something less strenuous and keep in the habit of being active. Since the ice incident, I’ve also realized that lightening up my Mom Bag may not be such a bad idea either.