16. Raising the Bar

16. Raising the Bar

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Raising the Bar

Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment.
 ~Heywood Hale Broun

Hanging from my sixteen-year-old son’s doorway is one of those manly chin-up bars that brings out a guy’s desire to continuously prove himself and his strength to others. My younger son bought it—with his own money—for his big brother this past Christmas and the two of them have since had countless contests. Since birth these boys have looked for ways to outdo one another.

Now—as the only female living in the house—I tend to just wander by their manly chin-up challenges, usually with an attempt at coaxing them into using their Herculean strength to help me—their mother—carry the huge piles of warm laundry from the dryer to the couch to be folded. Usually, they’re too caught up in their own competition to notice me. That was until the other night when my younger son, Alec, grabbed my arm as I ambled by Billy’s bedroom, which was beginning to smell like a sweaty gym sock.

“Let’s see you do one pull-up, Mom,” Alec grinned.

“Are you insane?” I laughed, knowing that I couldn’t do one pull-up to save my life, much less my children’s lives.

“Just one, Mom. We’re not going to let you go until you do,” Alec replied.

Both he and his brother stood tall, caging me in, their arms folded across their chests. I let out a huge sigh, knowing that I had to try. I reached up for the bar; this was not going to be pretty. As I hung from the bar, my arms quivering, I felt my eyeballs roll to the back of my head as I tried to pull myself up.

“At least try, Mom,” Billy coached.

“I am trying!” I cried, sweat now beading on my brow.

The boys both laughed at me while I hung like a wet noodle from the bar; they encouraged me to jump into it if I had to. After what felt like a bad day at boot camp, I finally was able to get my chin up over the bar.

“You’re going to do one every night until you get stronger,” Alec insisted, as I slunk away in shame to my bedroom.

“Yeah, right!” I huffed.

The funny thing is, Alec has enforced that I do at least one chin-up every night and I am finding that it’s getting easier and easier for me to pull myself up. What’s even funnier is that I secretly do chin-ups during the day when the boys are at school, in hopes of really impressing them one day.

Oh, I doubt I’ll ever get to the level of my kids, but it just goes to show that we are all capable of doing things we never would have believed we could do. With just a little bit of sweat and encouragement, anything is possible!

~Natalie June Reilly

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