“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” –Nelson Henderson
Ever since Oliver was six weeks old, I have taken him to the local gym with me. While I run, lift, cycle, and sweat out the frustrations that come with motherhood, Oliver hangs out in the playroom doing his own version of baby cardio. I’m told it is a combination of flinging toys, climbing on things he should not climb on, and exercising his lungs with a good old-fashioned scream when he is not happy.
This playroom and the amazing staff that works there have been a complete lifesaver. When Oliver was little (relative to his current ripe old age of 14 months), he cried. He cried a lot. As a new mother, I was often overwhelmed by the task of consoling a baby that seemed inconsolable. And to be brutally honest, I was also overwhelmed by the tasks of showering, eating, and remembering to put on clean underwear. I was complete mess.
The staff at the playroom always made me feel completely comfortable with leaving Oliver for an hour so I could get in my “me time,” which in those first few months sometimes meant falling asleep in the sauna or reading a magazine in the locker room instead of actually exercising. Later it meant having the time to train for a half marathon and the time to create an identity outside of “mom.”
There were times I would show up with a crying baby, on the verge of tears myself, and they would happily let me hand him off. They always assured me they would come find me if he became too upset or didn’t settle down. Their calm presence assured me he would be fine. That I would be fine. That everything would be fine.
I’m very grateful for the patience, compassion, and positivity of the gym staff and the relationship they have forged with my son over the last year. When I decided to do 29 random acts of kindness I knew I needed to include them. Today when I dropped Oliver off I left enough king sized Hershey’s bars for each member of the staff to have one. I attached a picture of Oliver with a short note of thanks.
In addition, Oliver and I gave them a big bag of Dum Dum suckers, aka, toddler tantrum terminators, aka major melt-down mufflers, aka, scary screaming stoppers. In other words, bribery. They hand them out to the kids from time to time when they are having a rough day. I’ve walked in a few times to find Oliver smiling devilishly with a sucker stick hanging out of his mouth. I didn’t inquire what he did to “deserve” it. I was too busy feeling ecstatic that he was all smiles.
Here’s to hoping my small gift can put a smile on their faces too.