This week, for the first time in about two years, we stayed home from “boom boom room” or “cry at the Y,” the fun, chaotic parent-child boot camp class at our local YMCA that has defined my mornings since H was a newborn.
It started about a month ago: As soon as we walked in to the gym, he shook his head, no, and said: “No. All done. Home!” I ignored the request. After all, he’s 2, so “no” is basically the background music of my day. But boy, did he ever mean it. He clung to my leg the whole class, and I eventually picked him up, doing squats, lunges and planks with him in my arms or on my back (talk about extra resistance!).
The trend continued: He kept protesting. I kept ignoring his protests, thinking: But we do this every morning! This is the way I get exercise with a toddler, and how he gets social interaction. And there are tricycles! And balls! What’s not to love for a kid? We tried the Y’s daycare, but that proved to be an even less popular option.
After a few weeks of clinging, one morning last week, he started exploring the gym, like he used to do. Finally! I thought. He climbed up to the first level of the bleachers, and I walked over in case he needed help getting back down. Then, I saw her. The 3- or 4-year-old girl sitting higher up on the bleachers, scowling at my son. Before I could run over, she put both hands on my son’s chest and pushed him off the bleachers. Thankfully, he only fell a short distance. But in an instant, I saw it: My attachment to the class was clouding my vision so much that I couldn’t see his perspective. The happy madness that he used to love now felt a little scary and overwhelming. The class, which was supposed to be fun, had become burdensome for both of us—even I had started dreading it, knowing it would be a hard sell for my skeptical little workout partner.
Here is the irony: When I first brought H to the class in his infant carseat in 2016, I was having a hard time letting go of my last “thing”—the long, leisurely yoga classes I’d taken before H was born. Then, too, my attachment to what I thought was my thing didn’t let me see that the boot camp was a great way to meet new friends and spend time with my son.
The weather in Saratoga Springs has been heavenly, springlike but cool, perfect for running. So on Monday, I strapped Henry into the baby jogger and ran around town with him. We stopped at every construction site, and I stretched or did push-ups as he admired the excavators and lifts. Oh, I thought. This could totally be our new thing.
This, too, will change. But hopefully, the next time our lives shift, I’ll be clear enough to go with the flow, embracing whatever comes next.