The Juggling Act

Approximately 20 years ago, I went after my now husband when we were undergraduates. My first impression of him was that he was cute and sweet. He was generally clueless to my crush on him, but after persisting, he came around. We have been together since then, and have been married for 16 years. We have an energetic, joyful son, who is 6. During our time together, I have had dozens of interests: triathlon, swimming, playing the banjo, photography, Muay Thai, sewing and now Jiu Jitsu. I tend to become obsessed with one thing, and then months later, abandon it for something else. Only Jiu Jitsu and swimming have lasted. It makes complete sense that my husband would be skeptical about my latest interest, even though I have stuck with Jiu Jitsu for a year (I had to take 1 year off due to an ACL tear).

His biggest concern is that I will suffer from another injury. While sweet and supportive in its own way, he remains distant about my addiction to Jiu Jitsu. When I wake up at 0430 for a 0500 class, he shakes his head. “You’re crazy,” he says. I try to share my accomplishments and struggles with him after every class in the hopes that he will understand why Jiu Jitsu is good for me.

 Jiu Jitsu is the perfect balance of physical and mental challenge. I have had the revelation that my 40 year old body is capable of much more than I ever thought it could do.

The mental challenge of Jiu Jitsu is invigorating, and often I find myself in grappling situations where I have to strategize my next move. I love that. I love that it is hard. I have never chosen the easy route in my life. Jiu Jitsu is rewarding because it is hard.

Another one of his concerns is that my obsession with Jiu Jitsu will take away from my focus on our family. Besides training in Jiu Jitsu 3-4 times a week, I also swim, and am a full-time student at UC-Irvine, which is an hour and a half commute, one way. When I get home late, my husband has already completed the nighttime routine with our son. I know a lot of women in particular struggle with keeping a work/life balance. We are supposed to have a rewarding career and the perfect family, right? Though I know this is an impossible standard, I am never satisfied with how I am balancing all of the components of my life. If I am at school, I feel like I am abandoning my family. If I am having fun with my family, I should be studying. While during Jiu Jitsu I can file all of those concerns away, I still feel selfish before and after class.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am allowed to have something that is just for me. It is not my responsibility to convince him of Jiu Jitsu’s merit. Certainly, I adjust my training schedule to fit into my crowded life, but other times I need to advocate for myself. When I train, I am less depressed, less irritable, mentally clear and physically invigorated. I need Jiu Jitsu to be a better wife, mother and student. I need to be healthy for years to come, and Jiu Jitsu is a sport that enriches me, completely.

About the Author:

Darisse Smith

Guest Writer

Darisse Smith is a four stripe white belt and trains at Aloisio Silva Academy in Yucaipa, California. She is married with a 6 year old son who also trains in Jiu Jitsu. Darisse spent 7 years in the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance and attack helicopter pilot. She is a full-time student at UC-Irvine, earning her 2nd Bachelor’s Degree in Literary Journalism. Her favorite move is the kimura from closed guard.

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