I Don’t Have Time For This(?)

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Whenever someone asks me where my kids go to school and I say, “Oh, we homeschool,” their answer pretty much looks like this:
“I couldn’t do that, I don’t have _____________ (patience, enough education, a good relationship with my kids [that one always makes me sad]) and…” 99.9% of the time…

I don’t have time.

Like I do. Like I have time to shuttle four kids from activity to activity, like I have time to teach four different age levels math, science, reading, writing, history… Now this last bit rolls through my head while I smile and nod because she doesn’t really want me to try to talk her into homeschooling anyway.

But what we all seem to have in common (whether her busyness looks like 5 kids under the age of 5, busy working mom with kids in school, wife and mother and executive, single 20-something with a new job, new apartment, pile of bills, you name it), basically…

In 21st century America we are always busy doing something, even if that something looks like munching popcorn while binge-watching Netflix.

And I think I speak for many women when I say Do we really have time for all the things we do, let alone dump another activity onto the pile?

We drag into bed at the end of the day exhausted and wonder what exactly happened. We do too much of not really important, we do a lot of good things that add up to harried days and no-white-space-in-my-calendar schedules.

But this isn’t about homeschooling or even how we need to carefully choose what we fill our lives with (though that does factor in). It’s about why I choose to drop a few “good” things so I can add a very important thing: learning how to protect myself.

Two mornings a week I do what I never saw myself doing. I walk into a women’s self-defense class.

During a pretty intense hour or more we punch, fall, roll, run, learn various ways to use everyday objects as weapons… I’m never sure quite what to expect, but it’s always good. In one class we learned how to use short and long umbrellas to nail any attacker, causing enough pain to distract him. We learned how to double him over with groin pain, gag with a jab to the throat, legs collapsing from a blow to the back of the knees – a personal favorite — or a good whack on a floating rib or two. Great fun to try them out on the instructor, who happens to be my bestie, Stephanie. And we train our minds into new and exciting paths: the way of a woman warrior.

The fact that I even darkened the door in the first place, much less return on a bi-weekly basis, is a bit of a mystery to me. As a kid I was a skinny, fluffy-haired outsider when it came to sports, staring at the ground when kids were picked for gym class games knowing I’d be one of the last three chosen. Chronically afraid of the ball and having a tendency to daydream seldom serves the team in the thick of a game. Joining a sports team? Unthinkable.

So why would I willingly join a group of ladies to literally throw myself on the floor, putting myself in compromising positions, sometimes with a man doing the compromising? What would make me choose to be put into choke holds, pinned to walls, or lay on the floor with some lady or guy on top of me so I could learn how to throw them off and run?

Seriously, who has time for this nonsense?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But I keep coming back. This is what I know:

  • I am worth protecting. This is a new concept for me. I’m a mother of four; the mama bear instinct is strong in me to protect them. And if you say something against my man or my friends, look out. But me? My go-to? Avoid conflict (run away – run away! Insert Monty Python guards here). It’s slowly seeping into my heart: God made me, so I’m valuable. I am worthy of protecting. So, by the way, are you.
  • I need tools and techniques so if I’m in danger I can use my training to overcome. I refuse to be a victim – but if I just blindly flail in the conflict, attackers will likely have their way with me.
  • I need to do hard things to train my body and mind regularly so I’m ready for whatever comes. Attending class is often inconvenient, but it’s worth it. Heck, it’s becoming almost a compulsion, as I leave exhilarated. Every time.

When Stephanie, who’s been studying Ninpo for a couple of years now, first brandished bruises on her arms and legs I thought she was a little loopy, calling them her “training trophies.” So I smiled and nodded, indulging her — but really, that’s a little nuts, don’t you think?  Then awhile back I got a skinned elbow from throwing her off when she pinned me to a cement block wall. I felt oddly proud of my one-inch wound. I guess it’s a warrior thing, because now I love to feel the muscle pain the day after a workout, and scanning my limbs post-class for my own trophies. Another bruise? Yes!

So this scared little girl is finding her grit. In class, when we yell “Get OFF me!” and “No!” — our self-defense kiais — I feel the power surge. You will not violate me. I am worth protecting, and I need to keep disciplining myself to keep doing what seems counter-intuitive. Do the hard things in class behind closed doors, prepare for the unexpected. And keep practicing outside class. Because there’s an enemy out there, and he doesn’t play fair. And I will defeat him if I stay focused and disciplined.

We can show our daughters and sons, those in our circle of influence — what taking care of ourselves looks like. It’s so much more than simply eating right and exercising and doing the things a healthy family does — we teach by example that living as a victim is unacceptable. That loving yourself looks like valuing the body you’re living in enough to learn ways to protect it. Let’s show them the warrior in us and they’ll want to be like that, too.

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There is time for the most important things — things like this.

Thoughtfully assessing what we do on a daily shows what we really value. Let’s face it, there’s always time to do what we really want to do. Sometimes the hardest thing is cut out the good to make time for the best. Investing in overcoming fear, doing the hard work to be strong inside and out, becoming the woman I was made to be — I’ve found is definitely worth a few hours a week. It’s paying off in courage and skill, and it’s part of an increasingly streamlined life (cutting off the minimally productive for the best). I want to be someone my kids — and my family and friends — can look up to. I want to be a powerful ally with my Creator. I want to be courageous enough to do all I’ve been placed on this earth to do.

Becoming fearless has been — and continues to be — worth it.

So what is keeping you from walking into a women’s self-defense class?
Maybe, like me, you’ll find you really do have time for this. I hope so. I’d really like to see you in class.

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