Between all my assorted part-time jobs and taking care of the 3Es (now ages 4 and soon to be 3 and 1) there's no such thing as a day off. In fact, once my husband goes to his second shift job (a totally different kettle of worms, but it's a job), I spend virtually all my time with beings who cannot carry on an adult conversation.
We have some really interesting conversations. Don't get me wrong. There's "what kind of animal am I?" and "why you shouldn't hit your sister." We talk about coloring, how to spell words, why the baby smells funny. Which program should we explore on ABC Mouse? And what we'll have for our next meal/snack? ("Chickie nuggets!" Well, not always.)
I occasionally ambush people dropping off or picking up their dogs for an adult conversation. The mail carrier and UPS drivers are subject to the same risk if they leave a package at my house. Heaven forbid you call any time that I've got a minute or you may be sucked into a much longer conversation than anticipated. I have actually called people back and apologized for talking too much. Some days Facebook is as close to a non-family conversation as I get.
Then there's exercise. Granted I get plenty of it walking my kennel guests in the morning and chasing, lifting, playing with three little girls. But I'm also aware that to age in the way I want to, I may need something else in my routine.
But by the time the E train leaves Ma's house sometime after 8 p.m. (sometimes closer to 9), cause Mom works an odd shift, Ma's generally not fit for much of anything. I've tried convincing myself to do some yoga before bed (15 minutes and I'm ready to go to sleep) and occasionally talk myself into 30 minutes on the recumbent bike, but that's just more of the same and if the day has been busy it's not happening.
One of my doggy moms, one I knew in my pre-dog life as well, hooked me on Zumba years ago.
I loved the diversity of the group in the class. There are a group of regulars who range from dressed to kill in Zumba wear to just wanting some exercise. Some who I can tell hit every class, and some who are muddling through and burning calories but enjoying the experience. There's all ages, weight and abilities. I can carry on a conversation here and there before and after class.
Then I discovered a doggy rescuer (yes, I help with that, too) was teaching a class called PiYo at the same studio. While I had a break for the arrival of the third E this past spring I caught one of her classes. They call it a blend of pilates and yoga. I call it make you sick to your stomach because yoga isn't done at that pace. But afterwards, oh my, I knew I had stretched all those muscles I was neglecting on a day to day basis. I had also worked on balance. Once again, I was hooked on a class.
But the arrival of E3 closely corresponded with a change in the babies' daddy's work schedule and no more weekdays off. There were no morning Zumba classes. Trying to get to an evening PiYo or Zumba just felt like too much with three little ones to interrupt naps and wrestle into car seats. I sat home for months.
Then there was the random day when they weren't here and I caught both classes back to back. A doggy dad who had commented on how tired I looked one day told me the next morning I looked like I'd gotten some rest while the girls weren't there. I laughed and said no, I'd gotten nearly two hours of hard exercise. I realized it was something I needed to do more often.
When both classes became available on Monday as well as Wednesday (church night for the girls) I made a new commitment to myself. Baby daddy was home by class time and I was somehow going to get myself there for class by 5:45 p.m.
The next morning, I could barely get out of bed and required a bit of medicinal help to walk the dogs.
Week two, however, went much better and there were no breaks in PiYo; Zumba was easier; and I was able to get out of bed the next morning unassisted.
Today is PiYo/Zumba day and I get out of bed with something to look forward to. Never mind that it's raining and the daily dog walks that help keep me sane are off the table, I have something to look forward to. Never mind that the children are at Disney World and I could pretty much sleep all day, I'm up and at it with something to look forward to. Never mind that many people would choose a mani/pedi (I've never had one), a massage, a trip to the salon or some retail therapy for me time, I choose working out.
No, I may not look as polished at 8 p.m. tonight as someone who takes a different route. But my heart and muscles get a good workout. And I'm looking further down the road than how I look tomorrow. I want to be flexible and have good balance as I age. Looking at the lifespans of my grandparents, I should have a good three decades left and I want them to be decades I'll be fit enough to enjoy.
Besides, I've got three little girls to keep up with and be a role model for as well. And that counts for something.