E is for Emotions (and energy and ego and exercise)

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I am a better parent when I exercise.  I’m an academic at heart, so I tested it.  On days when I’m not at the gym, I struggle with my temper.  I’m impatient.  I’m snarky.  And I’m more tired.  

But if I go to the gym for just an hour and bust my ass, the day goes so much more nicely.  I’m more patient.  I’m slower to react to fights, feuds, and familial angst.  I smile more.  I laugh more.  Im better able to enjoy my children, because as the title of my blog suggests, I’m deep in the trenches of parenthood right now, and I don’t really have a local tribe or village or any family to speak of.  I’m deep in the trenches, more-or-less alone.  But I’m a better parent when I take care of myself too.

So why do I feel selfish and guilty when I sneak out the door at 5:30am to go to the gym?  I logically understand that it’s basic survival.  Just like if you’re on an airplane, they say to put on your own oxygen mask first. before you help those around you.  You can’t be any good to anyone if you’re not taking care of yourself.  My brain understands this.  I know I spend my every waking moment taking care of the needs of my children.  I know that I can’t do this well if I don’t take care of myself, but I’m still struck by this feeling of guilt every time I go to the gym.  It’s  guts wrenching.

I love my time at the gym.  It’s my time.  It’s me-time.  But mommy-martyr syndrome is no freaking joke.  It’s a daily struggle.   

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