This post may fall on some deaf ears for those out there that are not currently parents, but I know a lot of grapplers who are parents or are new parents so I thought this might be good to post. It’s particularly for grapplers who are either new to being parents or parents who are new to grappling.
Everyone else: read it anyway.
Seven weeks ago my wife and I welcomed our second (and hopefully last) child in the world…don’t focus on the parentheses, two is the plan as I am a firm believer in man-to-man coverage. I think a zone defense is sloppy and can lead to very long, sad weekends.
Anyway, with our first child, it was a change. When I first started BJJ, I had taken some time off of boxing and kickboxing only to feel that pang hit me. So at first there wasn’t much probably in me diving in, training three, four, five times a week wasn’t any issue as it made me more plesant to live with and it was just my wife and I.
After our child was born, I suddenly had to be more attentive. I admit it, I can be a very myopic person and do what I can to structure the rest of the world around myself. That isn’t to say that I am neglectful as much as I try to engineer schedules to my own benefit.
Children have a way of telling you who the boss is: my wife.
Again, not a dictator as much as she is the voice that should be in my head saying “stop being selfish”.
So training shifted. We made it work. As the first child grew up, it made things easier, getting on a schedule and all that. I mean, with double coverage mistakes happen, but it’s good to know that you have a partner out there helping.
Then number two came along. Again, this was planned, as were both our children, but the thing is that my ideas of being a husband and being a parent and being a grappler don’t really overlap all that well. It’s more of a Venn diagram where some of each circle touches the other.
I admit it, I am a flawed person. I have concentration issues (if none of you could tell) and it takes a lot for me to figure things out in the best way to make sure I am not being a douchebag…a struggle I have been known to lose.
The thing is, when it was one kid, it was hard at first, adjustments were needed, but my wife was amazing with being able to deal with it and I was free to go and roll at night (for the most part). But with two children, it doesn’t really work that way. Now we have a high-energy toddler running around the house and occasionally pitching a fit and a newborn who, while a very manageable baby, is still a baby and needs attention.
How do you make it work?
It’s still about teamwork. My wife and I are a team. Sometimes the game plan breaks down or we don’t see eye to eye, but we are on each other’s side and we need to do all we can to make sure that the plan is in motion so everyone wins. I need to understand that my wife can’t be expected to do it all and that while I have duties as an BJJ instructor, that doesn’t mean I have an excuse for any extra time away from my family.
Those days are gone.
If you are young and single, have fun, get on the mats, train as much as possible. Part of being an adult and someone who makes conscious choices in life is that you live with those choices. As much as I love BJJ and couldn’t imagine living my life without it anymore, it doesn’t compete with my family. I want them more.
That isn’t to say that I am not a happier daddy and husband with BJJ, I am, but I also know that I can’t be selfish anymore. I need to take time (as best as I am possible) and understand that this is a hard time. Parts will get easier, but then harder, then easier, there is an ebb and flow to development and I understand that.
Sometimes it’s just hard when you remember those days of being able to live on the mats.
For those of you expecting your first child: don’t worry, you will get through it as long as you talk with your partner and explain the importance training has in your life. It is exercise, it is stress relief, it is self defense (ideally) and so much more.
But you are an adult and you have responsibilities.
For those just starting on the mats and wondering how you will juggle it all: you will. Stepping through the door is the hardest part, training is easy. If you know you have the time to train and a partner who understands what you want out of training, it will work. And you can get your kids involved when they are old enough.
There is nothing cuter than seeing the youngest grapplers go at it at competitions. It looks like two teddy bears just got thrown at each other and just kind of flop to the ground.
So yeah, it’s a challenge, but that’s life. Welcome to adulthood. If you really want something, you make it work.
And sorry about all the sports analogies for those who don’t follow football, but 'tis the season…
See you on the mats.