As an online fitness coach and as a 41 year-old mother who is very aware of the ticking clock in her ear reminding her that she is aging, I am always encouraging my clients to let their kids see them working out. In fact, I tear up when they share pictures of themselves working out with their babies alongside them trying to copy their mom or dad’s activities. See my kids are 20 and 17 and not so little now…so to see pictures of these precious kids looking up to their parents is powerful. For as much as social media can be a thorn in our sides, it does have its advantages in situations like this.
Running parallel with the fact that I encourage my clients to be the example for their kids, is the thought that I have let mine down. I am extremely hard on myself when it comes to my children. They survived the divorce of their parents and then they had to survive the divorce of both of their parent’s second marriages. It’s not something I am proud of but at the same time, I know that those experiences had to happen to shape me into being who I am now. And during those tough times, I made a ton of mistakes along the way but nothing ever kept me from wanting the best for them. I always made sure their needs were met. I always provided what they needed no matter what. But I was always missing a key component…
And that was R-E-S-P-E-C-T….
No matter what I provided monetarily or physically, in the form of showing up to every play, concert, game or classroom party, they didn’t seem to respect me. My daughter had limos at her birthday parties and my son played on travel ball teams and went all over the country… All the things I made happen. And it was frustrating, and it hurt me that they didn’t seem to care. The thing is that those are activities a good parent should go to or do no matter what and it doesn’t necessarily derive respect.
Also, a big part of that stems from the fact that kids are kids and are not aware of what that even means. Respect is taught (and earned) and my kids were raised in blended homes and their parents were not together to stand united to raise them with like standards. That may be my biggest regret ever…not successfully co-parenting with their father better. We raised amazing kids but we could have done better. But that is a conversation for another day.
At the end of the day, there was one set of rules at one house and one set of rules at another.
So let’s move to the more recent future when my second marriage failed, and I had the biggest wake-up call of my life. I finally left a toxic marriage that I hung on to for way too long…essentially for my kids, as I did NOT want to be divorced 2 times and I also had no idea how to provide for them on my own. Even though I made less money than everyone, it had always been my job to provide for them. I always had to figure it out. I was terrified at how I was going to make this work but I also knew I could not go back to that life. It was going to kill me.
So, I prayed, and I asked the universe for help. I didn’t tell the universe what I needed. I asked for it to show me what it needed from me. I was at the end of my rope and ready to change. I knew that what I wanted may not be what was supposed to happen.
My prayer was answered in form of a humble, Godly man who was brought into my life to remind me of all the good that was still left in me that my ex had said didn’t exist. It was also answered by me having the mental fortitude to realize my drinking was preventing me from living my best life. No, I wasn’t a raging alcoholic as most people sadly envision when someone says they don’t drink anymore, but I did drink more than I should and it was a growing problem due to my unhappiness. 6 months after meeting Dan, I put down the drink for good. And he did too.
My sobriety along with life’s hard knocks and experiences gave me the drive to start doing things, not for the glory or notoriety of it all…
WOW, you went to your kid’s play?? So what??
…but because I wanted to do things the right way and be at peace internally. I wanted to do for my kids not for them to thank me but because I wanted to see them happy. I didn’t care who was looking. That’s the true definition of integrity. To do the right thing even when no one is looking. Not waiting for a pat on the back.
Slowly but surely, I have noticed my kids have started to do the things that I always wanted. My daughter who once was my biggest critic is now one of my biggest supporters. My son, who once forbade me from wearing yoga pants to his practices, now posts pictures proudly of me as his mom on social media.
Nothing more. Nothing less. They are simply proud I am their mom.
These were the things that I always wanted, but I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t do them for me. Well, they didn’t because I was going about it the wrong way. I was not doing things for the right reasons and not being the example by being authentic and genuine.
They now respect me. And it is humbling, and it gives me peace.
To come full circle with this, and to explain why I am even writing this, my daughter has unknowingly given me another gift. She showed me that I was the example to her in many positive ways and I didn’t realize she was even paying attention. This was something I did authentically, and I was not looking for a thank you in return.
Not too long ago she reposted a video of she and her brother to see who could hold a plank the longest while I timed them and there’s another where she is flexing her guns at 12 years old. She reminded me that I did have a positive effect on her growing up. We were a fit family. She saw me work out. She saw me have a positive body image. And now she is an extremely healthy young adult who cares for her body and her mind. And I know I played a tiny role in that.
So what this means is be the example. Take the pictures. Let them see you do healthy things. Don’t drink in front of them. Makeup if you fight. Apologize when you are wrong. Give them reasons to be proud of you that extend past your normal parental duties. Those are the things that will shape who they are. And trust me, it is NEVER too late to start. If you want to take them to the Hard Rock Café with their friends via limo, don’t expect a thank you for that until they are 25. Because at 13, it isn’t going to happen. 😉
Rhiannon is a Certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach focusing on Sobriety.
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Facebook: Rhiannon Tzimenatos Fitness