When our oldest was one, we began a tradition of taking my mom on a whale watch. Every year we trek down to Provincetown for the first boat of the day. There is an amazing Portuguese bakery where we get coffee and croissants and then we are off to visit the whales.
This was our sixth whale watch and each one has been completely different. Of course the weather varies, but so do the whales. When I was younger, the humpbacks had pretty much left the area and you were lucky to see a minke whale or maybe a fin back. This year we saw minke whales on our way out of the harbor. It wasn’t long until we were surrounded by humpbacks feeding.
The whales were bubble feeding, where they essentially work together, swimming in circles, blowing bubbles and basically trapping the fish. Then they swim up the center, mouth open to eat the prey. We had learned about bubble net feeding at the Mystic Aquarium on a family trip. The kids were so excited to see it in person. We were literally surrounded by bubble nets. There were some whales swimming across the surface with their mouths open, drag feeding. Often when you go on a whale watch, you see the large backs and of course the fluke (tail). Rarely do you see the head so well.
The kids’ experience has been different every year. In the beginning they just knew everyone was excited and they could see the whales but didn’t really understand. Now they have read about whales, seen information in aquariums and local museums. Our youngest, kept going inside to our stuff to circle the animals we were seeing in the guide they gave us.
It was also the first year that the boys were spotting whales themselves. Having so many nearby helped, but they were getting good at spotting spouts and fins. Even the youngest was pointing away. Watching them put all of their resources together was really fun. They knew lots of information and they were excited to share. When they didn’t know something, they asked. It was a great experience for all of us.
My husband and I watch ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and we LOVE it! The show is inspiring on two levels. First, is the person making the transformation. They are looking at the daunting task of losing hundreds of pounds. Not only do they have to change their eating habits and work out hard for the year, but they have to do the emotional work as well. Second, is the trainer himself, Chris Powell. His ability to motivate each person and show such compassion is a skill we can all learn from.
As we watch each week, we have noticed a common thread for the people who have had the greatest success – family support. From the outside, it would seem that spouses and parents would want their family member to find a healthier lifestyle; but it isn’t always the case. There are family members who continue to complain about the healthier food or the time required to work out. They eat the unhealthy choices in front of people desperately trying to make the healthy choice. For others, everyone finds a healthier lifestyle and truly embrace the transformation. The story we watched this week involved a man who lost 281 pounds and his wife lost 45 pounds. She truly supported him and made the changes herself. It was a great success for both of them!
I started thinking about myself and my students. We all need that support. This weekend I attended a fitness conference where I earned credits towards my certifications. I was there with people of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. We all had support. I was lucky enough to take classes with friends and I needed it. Some of these classes are far out of my realm and it is nice to have someone to roll your eyes with. As our muscles were reaching full fatigue we just laughed with each other.
My students have the same relationship with each other. The people who come regularly have made friendships and they support each other through class. They giggle and groan just as my colleagues and I did at the conference. It is important to have the person who lets you laugh.
Just as you find a mom to share kid stories or someone to discuss work with – find a workout buddy. It may be someone you know from your social circle or a playgroup, maybe work. My husband and I both exercise regularly, but we do different things at the gym. He is a treadmill guy and I like classes. We support each other by finding the time to go to the gym. My students and colleagues are my support system once I am at the gym.
Laughter is the best medicine – especially for tired muscles!!
So far the summer has been filled with lots of fun and growth. The boys have made great strides in their swimming and social skills – not to mention independence. Early on, I learned that I had tried to fit too much into each day and took a big step back. The boys continued with morning sports activities, but they went to the same camps. On the mornings that I teach, they came with me and went to child watch. Our afternoons and weekends were filled with the beach and friends.
My older son met two brothers last year in his swimming lesson and he was beyond thrilled when they were in his class again this year. My younger son, who tends to warm-up to others at his own pace, also made friends with boys in his swimming lesson this year. They get so excited to see these kids arrive at the beach. They have also found kids from previous soccer and baseball teams and included them in the fun.
For me, it has been an interesting transition to sit back and watch. It seems for so many years, you try to regulate and be sure that your kids are being polite and including others. To watch them interact from a distance has been fun. Overall, the entire group has played well. They have shared shovels, boogie boards and buckets. They dig huge holes and build elaborate sand castles. Of course, there is some Star Wars and military games that go on too.
The formal activities have ended for the summer, but there are many more beach days to come. Hopefully, they will continue to play with their summer friends and be ready for the beginning of the school year. While they have continued to read (or be read to) they have also continued their social growth. The youngest will begin kindergarten in the fall and ride the bus with his older brother. This will truly be a big change for him (and me) but I am confident that he is ready to make new friends and have a great year. The oldest has continued to grow and has done a great job including his little brother. I am assured that he will help show his brother the ropes of a new school and an entirely new adventure.
Watching the boys grow on different levels has helped give me perspective as I also enter a new phase. A year ago, I was anxious to try anything and look for new opportunities. Eventually, a few stuck and now I am in the process of deciding what direction I want to go in this year. Each venture or idea will take a lot of work and I need to set my priorities. This is an interesting balance as a mom. Slowly, but surely – I feel that I am finding the direction I want to head in. It’s currently a matter of what falls into the hobby side of things and where do I see career potential. I am not sure right now, but I am sure it will come.
For now, I am looking forward to enjoying the end of the summer with sand in our toes and smiles on our faces. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen and so is our summer fun!