When I look back on it I’m not sure who was more excited to go to My Gym every Thursday afternoon for those eight weeks—my daughter, who was 5 at the time, or me (who was very much not 5 at the time).
For those of you who don’t know, My Gym is a chain of gyms offering everything from classes to birthday parties to summer camp for kids. You can find them in just about any neighborhood you live in and they are the next logical step for first-time moms and dads after you’ve graduated from the bouncy Gymboree freaky-clown tumble-and-fumble experience.
On the surface it appears to be a place for your child to explore, grow, exercise, play, goof around and meet other kids.
But, let’s be honest, it’s really a place where tired moms and dads (and nannies) can go and take their high-energy little ones for some much-needed running around until they are completely out of steam and wonderfully handed back to you ready for a nice long nap.
So, I decided my girl could use My Gym because Mommy could use a break. Just an hour to do nothing but stare off into space, drink a bucket of coffee and enjoy watching someone else run after my girl for awhile sounded delicious. Yep, a place where I could just show up in pajamas if I wanted to, not care about hair or make-up or even conversation and just sit my exhausted ass down.
These are the fantasies of a parent…
But, the minute I stepped into My Gym that entire fantasy went out the window because I was greeted by a far more exciting fantasy—the My Gym teacher.
Jim. The moment I locked eyes with Jim I was smitten. He was a total beauty and so very, very awake! I was used to being around equally worn-out folks whose lives consisted of being sleep-deprived, brain-deprived and sex-deprived. To be in the presence of someone who didn’t have dark circles or a monotone voice or a “I haven’t made out with someone in years” attitude was absolutely fascinating.
His eyes, smile and personality were pure gold. And the best part of all… he was eight glorious years younger than me. I couldn’t have enrolled Hannah faster.
“Come on, let’s get this paperwork moving! She can start today, right now, we’re in!” And as I handed over my credit card he took my hand in his and said in a super-sexy voice, “Wow, cool ring.”
Enough said. Clearly he was smitten, too.
For eight weeks I knew that once a week I was going to get to see that youthful, smiling face. I was in make-believe-I’m-youthful-too heaven. It certainly didn’t hurt any that he was an absolute god when it came to dealing with the kids. He made them laugh, dance, play, sing and if he had a cranky, irritable, impatient bone in his amazingly tight body he never once showed it.
For a single mom who’s used to doing everything alone, seeing a man treat my daughter so well was extremely attractive. And, in my opinion, he seemed to treat Hannah just a tad better than all the rest, which made me fall even more for him.
On the days Hannah was tired and not in the mood to go to My Gym it took everything in me not to insist she go. “Pull it together, baby. Mommy needs her My Gym Jim fix. So let’s grab those socks and sweats and hit the road, little missy.”
OK, I didn’t say that out loud, but, man, was I thinking it.
Fortunately, Hannah was usually in the mood to go because, like Mommy, she adored Jim too. Well… maybe not exactly like Mommy. I mean, her idea of playing in the ball crawl with Jim and my idea of playing in the ball crawl with Jim were just a tad different.
Hannah had her gym and I had my Jim and together we had a fantastic time. And as much as I wanted to meet Jim late at night all alone on the circle mat with nothing on but a coat I knew that as long as Hannah was enrolled in Jim’s class I had to keep my desires to myself.
And then the final class of our pre-paid eight-week session came to an end. Sure, there was a part of me that was sad to say goodbye to My Gym, but the other part of me was excited at the idea of possibly saying hello to my Jim.
As kids were saying their farewells and Jim and I circled each other around the rings, I knew it was now or never. So, I made my move.
“Hey, you want to get coffee some ti—?”
Before the sentence was even finished he had a pen and paper in his hand ready to write my number down. And while a Kids Bop version of Yellow Submarine played, we exchanged digits, smiles and a great big My Gym hug.
Dating my Jim was like dating a big bag of candy. Sweet, exciting and a total sugar rush even if not necessarily nutritious and could cause your teeth to rot.
To see my Jim outside of My Gym felt a little like, after a kid’s birthday party, spotting the hired magician in his car smoking a cigarette and listening to NPR while looking at a Playboy.
My Jim smoked, drank and kissed like a rock star. It was a little overwhelming. We would date when Hannah was with her dad. After all, she didn’t need to see Santa Claus without his red suit.
We went to movies, bars, saw bands play and just simply adored each other.
But just like candy, I wanted more and more until my stomach hurt and I knew I had to find a way to get back to eating healthier food. I had such a crush. A big crush. Like the kind you get in school—full of tears and poetry and songs on the radio that make you think of him.
Jim was young and not looking for anything serious. And, crap, I was old, divorced with a kid and probably should have been looking for something serious.
WAAHH, I want more candy!
Eventually, a new session of My Gym was starting and Hannah wanted to sign up again. My session with my Jim came to an end and we both knew there was no sense enrolling in that class again.
Even in our end it was nothing but sweet. In that brief tumble-and-fumble, somersaults and hoola hoops, I got more life pumped back into me than I knew I had yearned for.
So, when we walked into the doors of My Gym again to start a second session for Hannah, that same sweet face greeted us.
I realized even grown-ups need a My Gym now and again.
I sat with the tired moms, dads and nannies and smiled to myself while I watched my girl play because inside I knew… this mom was wonderfully awake.