One of the nice things about my daughter is that she makes a great personal trainer. Just the other night, as I was attempting to read her a bedtime story, she turned to me and said, “Why don’t I color instead, and you can do some exercises?” She wasn’t content until I agreed to do my long-forgotten abs routine right there on her bedroom floor. When my stomach muscles started burning and I paused for a moment to rest, she looked up from her coloring with a stern expression and said, “Why are you stopping?” I had been planning to quit, but not liking the feeling of being judged and found lacking by a four-year-old, I started right back up. I kept at it until she pronounced both of us done, put away her coloring, and gave me a kiss goodnight.
I remember a time when I was little and my mother put me in charge of her diet. It was my job, as the kid with no interest whatsoever in food, to serve her reasonable portions and put away the rest of the dinner before she could go back for seconds. At the time I thought it was fun, despite being an added chore to my day, sort of taking on the parent role for a few precious moments each day. But now I get it on a deeper level. Moms have this way of holding themselves even more accountable when looking at themselves through their children’s eyes. After all, we aren’t just caregivers, we’re role models. Sure, it may just be a few crunches you hadn’t planned to do that day, but even still, why quit if you don’t really have to? I’d like her to grow up thinking of exercise as a normal part of any day. And thinking that you don’t quit just because you start getting a little tired.