Thursdays this month are for 100 mile one-way drives to gymnastics. Today a friend is driving but for the past two weeks I have driven. This all started with Miss A’s big idea. All she wanted to go was go to gymnastics this summer she said earlier this Spring. Easier said than done.
I know you probably have gymnastics in your town.
But we don’t on the prairie.
We live 100 miles from gymnastics. A decade ago, even 18 months ago, it would not have been feasible for me to pull off gymnastics for our kids, 100 miles from home. But now with changes in my career and juggling family life, I can.
It’s not logical. Gas is expensive. Time is money when I work in consulting. But if I can’t take have a set schedule of taking off a few Thursdays to go to gymnastics with my girls I am failing at my goal of being a more at-home mom to them.
So maybe it was mommy guilt combined with Miss A doing self-taught cartwheels down our small town grocery store aisles that had me log-on to register the girls in May for summer gymnastics 100 miles from our home. But I did it.
Miss A exudes energy and originality with her big ideas and with that I want her to have opportunities that channel her energy. Each of our kids have different interests and ideas. I want them to explore them from the arts to sports.
Living rural doesn’t mean you lack opportunities for that exploration. We don’t have oodles of activities for young kids but with that I think brings simplicity to our kids’ lives. It is what you make it, after all. We do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
And sometimes we make time for big town experiences. Last week driving home from gymnastics across our lush, green prairie, I was reminded that going off the prairie for big town opportunities brings balance to our kids and their friends. They were laughing together, talking about the day. They get to see a bigger world, be faced with challenges and work towards a new goal, like learning to do a pull-up or three. But they are proud to go home, to their rural life.
Gymnastics this summer isn’t just about pull-ups or cart wheels for the girls and a few of their friends. I realize there are lessons for me, mother trying to take more time with my kids and opening a window for them to experience something new.
If all they remember in the future is a series of fun outings with friends to the big town, 100 miles for gymnastics has been a success, whether the cartwheels or pull-ups are perfected or not.
Success is defined by different metrics. But the lessons for me this summer in a few weeks of gymnastics have already been worth it to know, you have to take extra time, to create new opportunities for yourself and your kids, whether it is a visit to the library, a lemonade stand, a weekend outing to a nearby state park or five weeks of driving 100 miles to gymnastics. Or maybe you are saving for a big vacation. I dream of taking our kids across an ocean someday to experience different global cultures.
Life is full of opportunities, no matter your location. Miss A’s big idea of gymnastics this summer has taught me that and while she doesn’t know yet she is not a future Olympic gymnast. Genetics tell me that! But gymnastics is teaching her to work hard, dream big and set goals.
As a mama that is all I want for my kids in opening a door for them with a new opportunity. They are growing. They are learning. So am I.
And that’s why I’m driving 100 miles to gymnastics.