I always considered myself to be more of a yoga person, in need of relaxation, deep breathing, stress relief, but lately I have been realizing that I need to be strong. I wanted physical expenditure of energy, a good workout, a confidence builder. So I decided to take up taekwondo together with the boys.
I have been going for the past two weeks, taking the same mid-morning class that the boys are attending. When the boys started, the standard talk was: "From now on, it's "Yes, sir!" Is that clear?" When I signed up, I was told that Motrin and hot baths will be my best friend. The instructor was not kidding: my muscles are sore. What looks so easy for the boys is a challenge to me. All those moves, kicks and blocks that I saw them do take a lot of strength.
On Thursday, I was placed into no-touch sparring for the first time: three kicks from me, three from the opponent. My opponent, a higher belt, after watching me sort of lift my legs: "Do you know any other kicks?" It felt weird kicking towards someone that I feel neutral about, almost impolite. But I mustered some strength and went on with the exercise.
As we were coming of class, 11 yo told me; "Mom you looked like you were flying during sparring!" I scanned his face for traces of irony. Was he making fun of me? Was he referring to the time when the drill was shuffle-step across the dojang and I tripped over my own feet and fell?
My mother's voice follows me. I was born a preemie, back when they did not do much for preemies, did not expect much. She was told to expect difficulties coordinating movements. She made sure that I knew my limits.
A flashback to my grad school. I am working on fruit flies. I am injecting fruit fly eggs with DNA. It is a super-precise and delicate work. I am able to do it. I am clearly coordinated enough.
In my son's eyes, I am flying there on the mat, in the dojang, a fearless mommy sparring alongside. In a few years he might not be so kind towards me.
In "All Joy and No Fun" Jennifer Senior writes:
The most productive, generative adults see their children as their superegos. Their kids hover over them and guide all of their moral choices. If these adults falter of behave ignobly, they know their kids will see; the same is true if they do well. They are exquisitely aware of themselves as role models.They know they are being watched.
This isn't how everyone thinks. Roughly one hundred years ago, Freud observed that many people spend their time reenacting the dramas of their pasts, seeking the approval of ghosts. They think of their parents as their superegos, the imaginary judges they've constantly got to please. But this is not true of the adults who are most concerned about leaving a lasting legacy. In their eyes, "the evaluator shouldn't be the past generation," says (researcher) McAdams. "It should be the next." They are freed up to invent their own lives, knowing that won't be governed by the norms of a previous generation. They want their children to be their final judges.
I need new vocabulary for a mommy who is taking taekwondo.
And, a nod to Brene Brown,