When the honeymoon is over, the hard work begins. My husband and I decided, with that in mind, we were just gonna stay on our honeymoon for the first 50 years and decide from there. But yeah, it happened sooner, the hard work part.
The concept of hang in there and do the hard work definitely applies to marriage but, as you probably know, it also applies to basically any new endeavor we jump into. When I begged my mom for piano lessons I was 8 and so excited to jump in like my big brother and sister, I could hardly wait to get my fingers on those keys! The fun lasted the first year and a half or so… but what I didn’t realize was with Mom, once you started you had to persevere all — the — way— through — high school!
I hated it by the time I graduated, and the last thing I wanted to do was touch a piano again. But four years later, a family friend called to ask: Would I teach her daughter piano? I loved babysitting her back when she was 5. Without thinking I said Yes, and what do you know, I was touching those keys again and I never looked back. This time I wanted to do it, nobody was making me, and heck I could make some spending money in the process. Students came and went but at one point I had 10 and loved it. I started practicing every day — after all, I couldn’t tell my students to practice if I wasn’t. Several years later I accompanied my kids’ elementary choir, and now I play for fun.
I’m actually not sorry I kept at it through high school, surprisingly enough. It taught me many things outside the obvious music theory and learning classical music and hymns. I also learned to hang in there and do what I didn’t want to do.
I don’t always want to go to women’s self-defense class. Some days I basically drag myself through the doors and set up. I often come in with all the stress of the day swirling in my head, my mind anywhere but in the gym where I’m pushing puzzle mats together and setting up the table.
But then we gather on the mat as the music starts. I smile and as we stretch I arrive fully in the room. Stress quietly leaves as I fully give myself to whatever Steph’s teaching that day. Even if I don’t want to do it, I do my best. I give all I can as much as I can that day. I signed up for this, for all the discomfort and all the way out of my comfort zone that sometimes happens.
The other day Steph decided to give us a pressure test. She turned the lights off in the gym and had us stand in different areas of the gym. She said she would sneak up on us one by one and attack us. Not full-on but aggressively. We had to be ready to get out of whatever hold she chose. I stood to the left back of the gym, by the back exit. The other ladies distributed themselves around the room and as Steph turned the music up, we waited. I stood there mentally spinning the Rolodex file of self-defense tools gathered so far and tried not to overthink what was coming.
Suddenly I was gripped around the neck, choking in a rear-naked hold. I was instantly a little girl again, helpless and scared. I wanted to cry. Rushing in then was a NO you WON’T and it was like I tucked the little girl behind me as warrior me emerged. I tucked my chin, dropped down, stepped on her foot and dug my thumb into the back of her hand, peeling it off. The next thing I knew she was on the floor. I stopped her. I actually defended myself.
I still don’t know what I’d do in a real-life situation, and honestly I hope I never find out. But I do know that coming back, time and again, continuing when I don’t want to go and have a laundry list of possible excuses… Well after almost two years of keeping at it I know I’ll keep coming back. I also know I won’t always want to. But yeah, I’ll do it anyway.
Showing up consistently and doing my best is not all fun and games, as they say, especially when the hard work part kicks in. But when I leave class I’ve once again added to my skill toolbox and I’m glad I came. And I’m glad I keep coming back. And who knows? Some of the old honeymoon thrill just might come back, too.