“You Know How Everyone Has A Superpower?”

The last few weeks I’ve really enjoyed commiserating with other moms about their children’s return to the classroom.  I was more nervous this year than I’ve been for the last few.  For two years of preschool plus Kindergarten my son had the same, absolutely amazing teacher.  A woman with 30+ years of 3-6 year old Montessori teaching under her belt, and someone who provided a nurturing, enriching, safe and consistent environment for my son who was entering school during a difficult time.  The warmth and love that my son received at school everyday is something that I will always be grateful for.  In addition, the fact that this woman has taught three year olds for 30 years proves that without a doubt she is a saint.  Bless all the great teachers out there!

First day of school ever.
First day of school ever.

This year my son not only has a new teacher but a new school and everything that comes with that.  As usual, I have way more anxiety and nerves about the situation than he seems to. Despite being just 6 years old with cracked Lego building fingernails, an affinity for potty humor and a propensity to make everything in sight, including me, into a jungle gym; this kid already has me trumped when it comes to how he approaches many things in life.  As much schooling as I’ve had, life experiences I’ve been through, etc.…maybe it is true, “all I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten”.  There are a number of qualities that I’ve observed in my son that I want to emulate.  I’m so proud of this child, and so grateful for the way he unknowingly makes me a better person everyday.  Here are a few of the countless ways he does this.

Stop and Smell the Roses

When my son was three I had the opportunity to take him to Disney World.  I was so excited to bring him there, but obviously it’s very expensive and we only had two days, which I was determined to make the most of.  “Making the most of it”, for me, meant we had to arrive early to beat the crowds, get on every ride, and see every attraction possible in our limited time.  Fortunately someone had their head on straight.  As soon as we got off the tram to the theme park and I started rushing us along, my son insisted we stop to look in a pond to find Nemo.  It was a wonderful and necessary check.  Stop.  Breathe.  Enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.


Hop Some Fences

The CrossFit Games was quite an experience this year (as if it’s not every year), but there were a couple of moments that I think (*hope*) will change me as a person.  One of those moments was the “Sprint Chipper” which required us to jump over a wall.  When it came to jumping that wall all I could think of was my son and the times he’s asked me to jump the fence with him at one of the playgrounds we go to.  While I’m happy to be the kind of mom who’s kid things they might jump a fence, I’ve always told him no, because usually I’m sore and my joints hurt from training.  That stinks.  I’m finding that overall, it’s not very satisfying constantly preserving myself for the next workout or next competition.  Sorry, but if I can jump over a wall because Dave Castro programs it, I can darn sure hop a fence or two to enjoy day to day adventures with my son.  This is just an example of how I feel a disciplined lifestyle skirts along the edge of missing out on life’s little joys.  My son makes me want figure out a way to be in the moment and live a little.

Sleep Like It’s Going Out of Style

This kid sleeps like it’s a profession and he’s a leader in the field.  I’ve struggled with my sleep for years, and I’ve thought to myself many times, “if I could just emulate him, I’d be golden.”  Uninterrupted sleep at night and naps?  Clearly he has something figured out that I don’t.

“I Want To Make Something”

My son has found his own means of relaxation and self-expression.  To some, it may seem overstated, but I bet there are other parents of Lego builders who will know exactly what I’m talking about.  When my son starts building he can go into a zone for hours on end. It appears to be nothing short of therapeutic.  This is what working out is for me, however there’s one aspect in which I need to take my son’s lead.  I’ve found that increasingly my workouts are focused on the desired outcome, not the process and not the enjoyment and release I get from it.  I even refer to it as “training” now, instead of “working out”.  For me, there’s a substantive difference in these words, “training” indicates preparation for some specific end result.  When I watch him build, it’s just for the joy of building.  I’ve seen him spend multiple hours building something amazing, excitedly show it to me, then (to my hidden horror) immediately dismantle it.  Presumably, for him it’s not about creating something to hold onto forever.  It’s about simply loving what you’re doing and that being enough.  Goal orientation, competition and wanting to produce has pushed me to new levels physically and mentally.  At times though, I feel less connected to what I’m doing on an internal level.  I’m thinking more and feeling less.  I want to get back to the cathartic experience that drew me into “training” in the first place.

Things to do at the gym. Michael Brian Photography
Things to do at the gym.
Michael Brian Photography

Roll With The Punches

When I divorced I secured a new place for my son and I.  I was terrified.  I felt that the apartment was symbolic of the beginning of our new life and the transition period would obviously be predictive of the rest of our lives.  Of course. I worked really hard to get things set up for him, but due to time and financial constraints he walked into a bunch of boxes and an air mattress to share with his mother.  And guess what?  He couldn’t have cared less.  He was amped because of his new toothbrush.  “You got me an Eeyore toothbrush!?”  He used the boxes to drive his cars over.  That’s when I knew this kid’s level of awesome already far exceeded anything I could achieve, but I’m going to keep trying.  Things aren’t ideal?  Be thankful for what you have and keep it moving!

“But I Want You To Tickle Me!”

Who doesn’t want to emulate kids when it comes to having fun?  Fun is literally the epicenter of life for them.  This kid loves to be tickled until he can’t breathe, play tricks on me, make up jokes. Each morning as we leave we race to see who can get outside first and when we come home he runs ahead so he can jump out and scare me.  Every day.  He’s probably the only person on Earth who can make me be silly, and I need to help him create more of that.

Don’t Concern Yourself with the Opinions of Others


Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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  • Dear Elisabeth,
    We all know how much you love CrossFit, but you might consider a career in writing.

    Now, your son will be so excited about the new school that your concerns will banish in the first week 🙂

  • I’m a huge fan of yours!

    Would you please let me get a short interview with you?

    About being a mom and a pro crossfiter? I’d be so grateful!

  • Wow! You are an amazing mom and athlete. Love reading your blog. The comparison of ” training” and “working out ” really hit it home.
    Thank you for being such an inspiration.

  • Absolutely adored this post! A lot of the things you touched on I’ve been trying to change myself – relax, have fun, be present, focus on what I want, what will make me happy, and of course, appreciate life and all of it’s idiosyncrasies. <3

  • Thank you for sharing… I was a single mom while my son was 1 to 6 years old.. The view of life from their eyes is amazing. We know how much we love our kids, but don’t realize how much we fall in love with our kids.

  • Oh, what happened to the rest if the article?

    “Don’t Concern Yourself with the Opinions of Others…” … And then?

    Self reflection is a delightful thing. Fearlessness is another. Asa the engineer 🙂

  • I’d like to offer one simple suggestion, file this post away someplace for the future. Maybe when your son turns 18 or starts a family of his own, ask him to read this post. I’m betting would fill your heart with joy to know what he learned from you during his childhood.

  • Elisabeth, I am speechless (which is hard to do). I think you are an amazing athlete, and an awesome Mom. I love reading your blogs! Keep doing what you are doing in all aspects of your life! Brenda…..