It was that time of year again. Between the Halloween parties and events at my kids’ schools, I needed a costume for myself. Ughh… I had been thinking maybe this year I should just buy a mask, especially since I had been comfortably wearing one for weeks. The funny part is I did not even realize it until it slipped off when I was at the gym a week before.
Let me explain. A few months ago, I pampered myself by buying a few training sessions at my gym. Lately, my schedule had been hectic, but I was determined not to cancel. On this particular morning, my trainer started me off on the bench press. As I lay on my back, I started pumping the bar up and down like it had balloons on the ends instead of weights.
“Calida, wow! You are strong today. What did you eat this morning?” the trainer said, laughing.
“Oh… a cup of coffee, a piece of toast and left over scraps of sausage from my daughters’ plates?”
He gave me a disapproving look, and then stated, “Well you are really going hard today. You must have gotten a good night’s rest.”
“Not really,” I said. “I haven’t been able to sleep through the night for the last few days. I actually only got four hours last night.”
“It’s like you are on steroids or something.” he chuckled and added on more weight.
“I don’t know. I guess I just have had a lot on my mind.” I huffed. “I have a few projects under deadline, and after I leave here, I have to take my youngest daughter to the hospital for a procedure.”
And like a switch, the water works started. In the middle of my workout, I began to sob uncontrollably.
The trainer, clearly perplexed by my sudden outburst, was frozen speechless.
“Are you okay?” he asked cautiously.
“Yes, yes,” I said lifting the bar into his hands. As I sat up, tears streamed down my face. I tried to wipe them away quickly, so all the testosterone-fueled men wouldn’t see a hysterical women crying between sets.
“Let’s go to the next machine,” my trainer said, escorting me to a chest machine in the corner of the gym.
“Exercise is good for stress. You need this release. Four sets,” he commanded. For the rest of my time at the gym, I worked out in silence — no more tears, but momentary flashes of welled-up eyes occurred. “I made it through.” I thought. My trainer, I’m sure, was thinking the same thing.
We awkwardly scheduled our next appointment then I left quickly, embarrassed about my gym breakdown. When I got home, I recounted the entire story to my husband.
“I must be really stressed out about our baby having this test done,” I said, shocked that I had been able to block my feelings until now.
“It’s okay,” the hubby responded, trying to comfort me. “Take a shower and let’s get ready to go”.
We were going to my youngest daughter’s gastro appointment. She had been having digestive problems for some time, and her doctor recommended we schedule a test to see if we could find the cause of her mysterious symptoms. He warned us that the procedure would be invasive and somewhat hard for a child to bear. We took heed then scheduled the procedure as coolly as a tune up for our car. I hadn’t discussed it with any one until the day of the event. Now here I was on the day of the appointment terrified about what my daughter was about to endure.
I once again made it through. And after the procedure was over, I looked into my daughter’s eyes for some weakness or fatigue, but there was none. Instead, she got herself dressed and gave the hospital staff a giant smile and a string of high-fives as she walked out. Then, she looked up at my husband and asked, “Can I still go to karate class?”
Now, it was my turn to be speechless. I couldn’t believe my daughter’s relative ease at getting through the appointment. It helped lift a weight of off my shoulders, and afterward I realize how exhausted I’d been trying to keep up a strong front for my child and from myself for so long.
The results came back, and thankfully my daughter is fine. I am just going to become one of those mom’s who feeds her kid gluten-free everything. But I am not complaining.
Through this entire ordeal, I began to understand how often we all have to wear masks to keep it all together—for ourselves and others. It’s taxing to say the least, but without it, our emotional ups and downs would take over.
All in all, I am happy I have a strong woman/mommy mask on deck even though it can slide off from time to time — and often during the most inappropriate times!
I hope you enjoyed your Halloween. And, more important, I hope that if you find yourself wearing a mask, it never falls off while you’re doing the bench press!