One of the earliest stories of my infancy could be a fairytale. As the story goes, I was an active baby, so much so that I was crawling up stairs at the age of 5 months. Mom and dad would barricade the bottom of the stairway so that I couldn’t get to the top, but somehow, miraculously, I still managed to find my way through. I listened to this account with only minimal interest for years until… I became a mom. Suddenly this story became quite absurd. I deemed my boys “gifted” when they were walking at 10 months, but none of them were even thinking about crawling at 5 months. Maybe a little scoot, but no forward, measurable movement. When I questioned the credibility of my parents recollection, however, photographic evidence stared me in the face. Me…in diapers…well on my way up the staircase.
I came to realize early on that there was some athletic inheritance at play. I watched my grandpa play softball with the best of them and I idolized my aunt, only 5 years older than me, who was a killer shortstop on her high school team. My dad was always an active softball player, too, and I’d always accompany him to his games hoping to get the “nod” to play and, occasionally, I did. I started t-ball at 5, played little league with the boys until 12, switched to girls fast pitch softball at 13, joined the high school team as an 8th grader, and played all the way though college. Is it any surprise that one of my first words was “ball?”
One of the worst birthday gifts I ever got was a doll. I made it clear that would only happen once. Thankfully, that same birthday was redeemed by my favorite birthday gift of all time… a pink Itza football. Anyone remember the Itza football? Think Nerf… but rubber and bouncy. It was the perfect size for a kid’s hand and perfect for our many pickup games in the neighborhood. I even overlooked the fact it was pink…
In my world, there were no dresses, no dolls, no barrettes. If you look hard enough, you MIGHT find one or two photos of me in a dress thanks to my temporary status of “flower-girl.” It’s much more likely you’ll find a photo of me running around the neighborhood without a shirt on, something I flinch at now (and my mom flinched at at the time!). My clothing of choice, though, was always pants or jeans, like the boys. And when jeans with patches on the knees were the fashion, I was in heaven… they were the BEST! I guess it was my idea of bling.
Thank goodness today I have 3 boys! I don’t know what I would have done with frills, barbies, or pony tails. Though some of my tomboy days are behind me, there are pieces that have stuck. Most days you’ll find me in a hat. With short hair and no pony tail option I don’t bother with all the drying, product, and styling. I still prefer flats over heels. You’ll find maybe two very dusty pairs in my closet. I’d rather go to a ballgame than the ballet, hockey rink than the dance studio, and sports bar than a fancy eatery. I love spending time on the golf course with my oldest, tennis court with my middle, and backyard playing football with my youngest.
I guess it shouldn’t be any great surprise then that my early passions have found their home, once again, in the world of athletics. Because of the limited team sport choices for this now 40 something, I found an outlet in my unfinished basement with Tony, Chalene, and Shaun T. Though not competing against a rival school or fierce competitor, I’ve found my greatest accomplishments have come from competing against my harshest critic… me. Each day I’m encouraged to push more, be better, try harder and get stronger. The words from these top-notch trainers challenge me, encourage me, motivate me, and remind me to “do my best and forget the rest.” As a result, I’ve re-connected to those genes that first revealed themselves at 5 months on those apartment stairs.
And, now I can wear the jeans I love in a size I love…no knee patch required.