Article by Catherine Woyee-Jones, Army Spouse
My husband is deployed and no matter how much he is serving our country during his deployment, a part of me and my family just wants him back home and safely with us. For those of us who have family deployed, we share the feeling of sleeping with one eye open and alert praying that wherever our loved one might be, they shouldn’t come to know harm. During this deployment, prayer and fitness have become my best friends. Whenever my husband’s around, we all do some sort of exercise routine. You should have seen us all lined up for our Saturday morning run; doing a variety of exercises to help us lead a successful day, being the tough military man he is, we did wake up that early on some occasions too work out. It has actually rubbed off on me too!
Keeping up with the daily lives of my three children is sometimes a handful, but with 17 years of experience I’ve learned that I can do most anything, including convincing them that their punishment is some sort of reward and there’s a positive side to everything. Besides, it’s one way we can all feel productive during a deployment and cope. While we trained, we found that we thought about my husband often when we’re tired, or when we didn’t want to get up for a sweltering hot morning 5K. We realized no matter how long and steep a hill is when we’re running, it’s nothing compared with what my husband goes through daily.
Without warning, the school year was approaching and deployment was looming, my kids began to act differently than normal. My youngest daughter began to act more edgy, but to have an attitude occasionally. What in the world? My oldest child started driving, senior year adventures and decided he’d rather hang out with his buddies instead of doing his chores. My middle daughter, made a few attempts (and that’s about all it was) to outsmart me by switching her schedule at school, without my permission! Mm? I thought to myself, what a great opportunity?!” I have the perfect antidote for these 3 musketeers. Whenever my kids forget to take a shower, clean their rooms, turn in their homework, talk back, or take out the trash, instead of yelling at them or the much anticipated onslaught of mean words, I hatched a new plan .I decided to use their punishment- so to speak as a way for them to work out, you know, to get healthy and fit. It couldn’t hurt right? What’s a few laps (10), a few mountain climbers, a few bear crawls, a few pushups and squat jumps? My daughters absolutely hated every second of it! I think I got the mom of the year award for that one.
It is more stressful for the parent left behind because you have to deal with all the questions and emotions from children who love their deployed parent so much that they feel like getting deployed themselves. Since the questions and the concern were becoming too much, I decided it was time to change things over and help me and the kids distract our thoughts. Together with all the three children we settled on an exercise program that has seen us totally transform our lives for the better. We decided that we needed more than the usual training we are used to and settled on a bigger vision, training for 5Ks at-least once a month. This goal has seen us exercise more to better our performance for the race every time we run.
As a mother who loves her children and her husband and everybody’s success, I am happy to say, exercising with my children for a common goal has made all our perspective of each other. I am also happy to report that we train as a team. The team spirit has not only managed to help us participate and finish our monthly 5K races, we have also created a special bond that helps us remember my husband as he does his duties serving the country. Every exercise session and every race we run, it’s dedicated to him and his fellow service men. Every exercise session we do together, brings us closer. We often laugh about how each one of us has a certain flow that comes out during the exercise routine and how we all make funny faces while trying to win the 5K. Whether we are running in honor of a family member or to raise awareness for an issue dear to our hearts, organized athletics has help us set and reach goals, challenge ourselves, and it’s just a great way to make new friends and remain active.
Get your hopes up of seeing your spouse soon and join an exercise program, gather some friends and sign up for an event, stay fit and form strong bond with your family. Like military life, be prepared for the inevitable, once you’ve completed one event, you’ll want to sign up again and again.
About the author: Catherine Woyee-Jones is an Army Spouse of 12 years and the Wake County area, North Carolina chapter Director of Blue Star Families. She is also the coauthor of Beyond the Scale, Changing the Risk of Obesity within a Generation.