Why Do I Show Up Everyday?

They say that everyone has a big “WHY” when they decide to change something in their life. I’ve been thinking alot about mine. 

When I was 15, my mom was in a car accident that left her in a coma for months. I’ll never forget that morning. I woke up and went to school. My siblings stayed home that day. It was my sophomore year and school had just started a month earlier. I was pulled from one of my morning classes and brought to the principal’s office where I had never stepped foot in before. A police officer sat waiting for me. I was dismissed from school and taken to my house where we were told as a family (me and my 3 siblings) that our mom was in the hospital from a car accident the night before. We were all taken to the hospital where we were soon met by one of my aunts and some other relatives. The prognosis was not good~ she had a 5% chance of survival. I’ll never forget the tube poking out of her head to drain the fluid on her brain and the hole in her throat hooked up to machines helping her breathe. The night of my homecoming dance, I went to the hospital in my fancy dress even though she was not awake to see it. I turned 16 as she laid in that bed, and she was not awake to see it. Me and my three siblings were ushered into her hospital room to tell her goodbye before we were moved 500+ miles away to live with our Aunt who was gracious enough to take all four of us instead of letting us get split up, and our mom was not awake to hear the goodbyes.

And then a miracle happened, not only did she live, but she woke up. Sure, she had to learn to walk and talk again, but she was alive and awake. She had to learn how to live with a traumatic brain injury, but she was alive and awake.  We had to learn how to live with her with a traumatic brain injury, but she was alive and awake. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that quality of life far outweighed quantity of life.

The accident had been caused by alcohol mixed with a deranged lover. I spent a lot of my adult years being so angry at her for “putting herself in that situation” that I couldn’t even see that I had followed in her exact footsteps. I was a teen mom with terrible taste in men. I worked my butt off to take care of my kids, but when the weekend hit, I was double fisting Long Island Ice Teas & shooting tequila until I couldn’t remember the night before or how I got home. Some nights, as I staggered back to my car, I would get this feeling or nudge that would tell me to just sleep it off in the parking lot and maybe don’t drive home and for some reason, I always listened. I had three kids by then and even with my risky behavior, I spent a lot of time worrying that I would die before they were old enough to take care of themselves, but even that fear was not enough to make me stop drinking altogether. Or to stop getting behind the wheel when I had a little too much to drink. 

I’ve joked over the years that I should not have lived through my 20’s with all the stupid shit I did. But it is no joke. 

I loved my kids so much, but every now and then, I would selfishly do something that would be a near death or near miss experience and bring me back to the reality that I needed to do better. So I would straighten up for a bit, but eventually, my self-sabotage would win and I would be right back at a bar blacked out behind the wheel. 

I’ve had many guardian angels over the years who refused to let me drive and got me home safely and got me out of situations that would have likely involved rape kits and police presence. 

As my kids grew up and one by one moved out of the house to start lives of their own, I often gave thanks for being able to witness their happiness and the fact that they are all amazing humans. They are so amazing that sometimes it’s hard for me to even think I deserve any of the credit, but maybe lots of their lessons were learned the way I learned mine, “don’t do what your mom did.” And I was always the first to tell them that. 

But there was always something inside of me that wanted my kids to WANT to be more like me and I always felt like a failure because there was nothing “special” about me and I wasn’t “doing” anything that was noteworthy. 

After my wish of being alive to see them all graduate high school and create lives they love was a reality, I had a new dream. I didn’t just want to live to see them turn 18 and know they could take care of themselves. I wanted to live to see them thrive. I decided that I want to live to see THEM grow old and I wanted to grow old with them. My oldest son recently had the revelation that I am ONLY 18 years older than him, the same age as one of his best friends. And it dawned on me that I am so lucky that I was a teen mom. I had the privilege of growing up with my kids and now I get to grow old with my kids. 

But 2.5 years ago, I didn’t feel like I would make it to “old” with my kids. I was always so tired and ragged and run down and just like when I was drunk in my front seat deciding whether to put the key in the ignition or wait it out, I had this nudge that I needed to do something different. And so I did. 

I picked up some weights and I started a wellness business knowing damn well that I did not really know shit about this lifestyle. 

I knew what foods were good for me, but I didn’t know how to eat them in a healthy way. I knew I should be working out, but I didn’t know how to do it effectively. I knew that all I had to do was stay consistent, but I didn’t know HOW to do that, because I was a perpetual quitter. 

But with all the things I didn’t know, there was one thing that I did know. I knew that there was never going to be a time that I would be OK with my kids having to sit next to my bedside and tell me goodbye thinking that when they left the room, I would be disconnected from life support and they wouldn’t see me again. I knew that I never wanted my kids to have to give up any part of their life or their freedom to take care of me. I knew that I never wanted to place anything burdensome on my kids. I burdened them enough when we were growing up together and now I was able to make the choice to be an example. 

I love when my daughter sends me messages that say, “dang, that’s awesome” when I send her my cycle stats or when my sons tell me they are proud of me. Or when my youngest son who is always in the gym is impressed by a move I can do or that I actually know what he is talking about. I feel like I can finally be the mom that they deserve. So when people say I’m obsessed with working out, that’s not it at all. I’m obsessed with living a long and healthy life so my kids don’t wake up every day worried that “mom’s not taking care of her mental health” or that “mom’s so overweight, I’m worried” or that “mom hasn’t left the house in days and won’t answer the phone” or that “mom, please take better care of yourself, we’re concerned.” 

I don’t ever want to place that burden on my kids. So I guess I say all that to say that my big “Why” for showing up everyday is not actually for me. Yes, I know I will feel better when I move my body. Yes, I know I will feel better if I eat better. Yes, I know I will feel better if I get outside and get enough rest at night. But, what really makes me push every single day and try to do better today than I did yesterday is knowing that every single day I work on my health, I am adding more days and years to my life. More Christmases with my kids. More looking at their vacation photos. More celebrating their successes. More time. 

Are you giving that to your kids?  

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