On a whim about two months ago, my daughter Gabriella and I wandered into Jones Tae Kwon Do and Fitness. I was interested in finding an activity that the entire family could get excited about and martial arts seemed to be a perfect fit… it has cardio, strength training and most importantly, it is centered on discipline and respect. After a quick run through of the curriculum and pricing, we signed up to take the three free introductory lessons. The first lessons for Gabriella went awesome! She was taking to the instruction like a fish to water. Her long legs and ballet training as a toddler helped her to have awesome balance and some beautiful kicks. Her biggest complaint at the end of the day was that she didn't have a uniform yet because she wanted to look like the rest the kids in class. My experience on the other hand was a little different…

I had taken a few Tae Kwon Do classes back in my college days, and I thought it would be a fun way to start getting back on track with my health. (About three months prior I had rolled my ankle while running down the stairs and home, and had been couch ridden for way too long) I figured I would be able to jump right back in and show Gabriella that mom could do it too. Unfortunately only five minutes in, I rolled my ankle again while doing jumping jacks. I was in pain and mortified… so I hobbled to the sidelines and started to cry.

After a couple minutes of wallowing in self pity, I realized that Gabriella was watching me. At that moment I tried to pull it together and be the role model that I knew I needed to be. I did some stretching, pulled up my preverbal boot straps and got back in there! It was hard, but I did everything the best that I could. As the weeks have passed there have been many more of these moments but I always keep in mind that it is up to me to make the best of each class, plus Master Jones (our instructor) is always happy to give a modified version of a move or exercise to keep me in the game. It felt awesome to be able to push through my issues and come out the other side but nothing could outshine the pride that I felt just a few weeks later…

During warm-ups we have to practice the splits. Gabriella was holding position, and Master Jones noticed that she was looking a little wobbly. He asked her if she was ok… and when she looked up, he saw tears welling up in her eyes. He told her to jump up and shake out her legs for a moment but didn't expect her to continue. Gabriella took him up on his offer, but to everyone's surprise she went right back down in to her splits and finished the exercise. I was pleasantly surprised to see this, but couldn’t help but wonder why she did it. When we got home I let her know that I was really proud of how she handled herself, and then asked what made her not want to quit when she was given the opportunity… and she said, "Mom, you never quit, so neither do I.”

As parents we have to remember there is always someone watching. Our children are looking to us to learn how to deal with adversity, in both health… and life in general. It's in these learning experiences that we instill the courage and confidence to never give up the fight… no matter what the battle may be. So, with the holidays now behind us, it's the perfect time to get out there and show them how it's done.