Oh yeah. You read that right.
Ever since Calvin and then Jude started taking karate, I have been curiously fascinated with the idea of taking karate myself. It started out as a visual I pulled out when I needed a good personal chuckle, but after a few months of pondering it way back in the recesses of my mind, I finally half heartedly gave voice to my secret. I wanted to take karate.
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), I have a very encouraging husband who told me to jump in with both feet and give it a try. I hesitated. For three months. I really wanted to understand why I was so fascinated with the idea of studying martial arts. It has taken me awhile to understand what this desire has been about for me. Here's what I've come up with.
1. I crave achievable goals. Right now my life consists of either extremely short term goals (clean the kitchen, although it will be a mess again in a few hours) or insanely long term goals (instill values and good character in my children, and we won't know how that turns out for another decade). It is hard for me to stay motivated without seeing measurable progress. Don't get me wrong - I love my life. But sometimes I feel like I don't move forward.
2. I need a hobby. Just ask my husband. He has a hobby...no, a passion in his life (paintball) and I see the joy it brings him. I confess, I am jealous. I am finally at a life stage when the boys don't need as much physical care as they did as babies and toddlers, but I have still found myself floundering a bit. I have the opportunity to pursue some personal interests, but nothing really interested me...until karate. And it kept interesting me for months even while I laughed about the idea.
3. I want to feel strong again. If you've read my blog back in the early days, you know that running was my thing. I felt amazing as a runner, but once I got so sick all that work and strength disappeared. When you have been sick for over two years, you begin to doubt your body's ability to do anything. I felt weak and disappointed in my body. It sounds strange, but it was almost like a betrayal. Karate is all about strength, control, discipline, and improving all those things a little bit at a time. I want to experience finding my strength again.
4. It's something for me. OK. I almost hate to write that, because I just don't buy into the whole "I need 'me' time" deal we moms have had shoved down our throats from the moment sperm met egg. I get the concept, and I agree to an extent - but taking this too far can promote not only a self centered attitude, but cause division and strife in the family. Ask me how I know. It took me awhile to decide if karate could be beneficial and still fit in our life. Tonight after my first class, I was driving home and I realized that from the moment I stepped on that mat I didn't think of anything except what I was doing. As a mom (heck, as a woman!) we are in a constant state of multi tasking, physically and mentally. For 45 minutes today, I was focused on one thing with no distraction or interruption. It was some serious "me" time. It felt great.
5. I need to get out of my comfort zone. By no means do I have this mother/wife/homemaker gig figured out, but for the most part my life is fairly well contained in the arena of my "expertise". I was a nervous wreck signing up for 8 weeks of karate, and I honestly almost turned and walked out of the place before the class started. My life is predictable and safe. I can avoid most new and unpredictable situations, which sounds great but can leave a person stuck. To have courage, sometimes you have to put yourself in a position to be courageous. It was scary (which makes me sound like a total pansy). But I stayed, and I survived.
I have to say, I don't know when I have enjoyed an activity so much. I learned I am not nearly as flexible as I once was. I learned that there are muscles in places I had forgotten about since giving birth. I learned that seeing something doesn't necessarily translate into successful execution. I learned that while my hips may creak, they don't break. I learned that when you accidently kick the instructor, he will extend you grace. At least on your first day.
I go back again tomorrow, if I can walk. I don't know that I will ever be a black belt, but I am going back for a second class. I figure if I can get out of my comfort zone enough to stick around for the first class, there might be some good things waiting to happen if I keep going back.