In the fall of 2000, right around the time then-Governor Bush’s drinking history became the October surprise of the presidential campaign, my three-year-old boy was earning the nickname “the littlest techie.” I was one of the senior producers for an entertainment company that was starting a news division, and shortly after the job began it came with the unexpected twist of requiring that I commute back and forth from DC to NYC for several months. They let me bring my son to New York and into the studio with me for part of that time, after I tore into an underling over a minor mistake and apologized with the tag line, “I miss my son!” That was the first business trip of motherhood for me.
While it was a nightmare in many ways, it also enabled me to live well in Manhattan – a place I’d always wanted to live, having grown up right over the state line in Connecticut – on someone else’s dime. It’s certainly been true since then that all work travel comes with similar fringe benefits. Still, as time moves on and the children need me less, these trips remain hard to make – and I couldn’t be more grateful for the difficulty.
For nine years now, the four of us have engaged in martial arts training as a unit. There’s never been a time when just the children attended or just the parents. One of the four has taken leave to either physically repair or mentally regroup, but we have always returned to our place in the family ritual.
Kung fu is at the center of our life routine. It is the thing all four of us plan around. It is the reason we’ve spent an enormous amount of time together, been present to watch each other grow and change, hurt and celebrate. There might have been another activity to bind us, but I can’t imagine what it would have been. I share love of baseball and football with my daughter, love of fine dining with my son, love of all three with my partner. But we couldn’t afford to do any of those things outside the home three to four times a week, and at least one family member would probably want to sit out. Martial arts was the activity we wanted to do that we could do, and it’s helped maintain an amazing relationship that I wouldn’t exchange for anything.
Tomorrow I leave on a business trip that includes a free evening in Beverly Hills to do as I please, and I’d rather stay home with my family. I’m sure that’s crazy to some. It feels awfully lucky to me.