Family holiday
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“Bonjour, comment ça va?,”

This unexpected question could only elicit a confused smile as I stutter and fumble for an answer.

“Ca va bien, merci, madame,” came the response from beside me. My children can now do a thing or two (OK, quite a few) that I struggle with (read — can’t) and with their every passing age (and mine), this list has been getting longer — like this one on Little Princess’s end-of-school-term PTM. Luckily for me, her teacher, the lovely Ms. Divya Bhola, understands, and with her dazzling smile nudges me to pronounce it until I’ve got it right. As we got chatting about reports and French reinforcements, it was hard to miss the visible change in her since our last meeting — a sparkle in her eyes, a healthy dazzle to her smile and a vibrancy in her voice. A little later I stumbled on an Instagram post about the gift that she gave herself.

Madame Divya — who on a regular virus-free day juggled motherhood, a job, running a home, and an underactive thyroid; her typical day beginning at 4:30 AM, having to race through it. Like most of us, she was well aware that her lifestyle, the stress of wearing several hats and trying to wear them well between scaling career ambitions, pushed her health on the back burner. New Year resolutions were made, tweaked, postponed and forgotten. She found herself finding excuses than reasons as her clothes shrank, thyroid levels spiked, the weighing scale threw alarming numbers and she got tired after every chore.

While the humans of the world retreated into the safety of homes during lockdown last year and while most of us cooked up a storm, geared up for Lockdown’s Got Talent and went on a Netflix binge-racing spree, the Bhola family decided to turn their time at home together into an opportunity. Her boys, with the help of their father, charted a healthy meal plan — some tasty and healthy meals that they could prepare themselves leaving Mommy to find time for herself, a workout plan for them while Mommy went about hers. Ms. Divya explains that the beginning was the toughest — to shake out of her comfort zone of being there for everyone but herself and to begin valuing her body and health. The fact that her family was with her — participating, encouraging and cheering on her kept her going until she began looking forward to her uninterrupted workout sessions. Slowly and steadily, the scales tipped in her favour, quite literally; her clothes began growing in size and her boys could once again get their Mommy running about them without tiring out.

Today, she can run 10km, do headstands with her children and engage in a fun skipping race with them. She realised that her health, fitness and happiness were foremost to ensure that her family was healthy, fit and happy too and that they could better enjoy every moment, big and small, together. Her boys, who are better known as @2fitbros_dxb on Instagram, have been an inspiration to children of all ages as they share recipes and videos of the healthy meals they prepare to simple exercises that can be done inside the safe confines of home, some with just their schoolbag.

We are all caught in a race — some sprinting ahead, some falling behind, others struggling to keep up and some others who are in but wondering why. The finishing line is but an illusion, it doesn’t exist, only keeps moving, teasing even. Some may touch it, feel it’s warmth for a fleeting moment only before it flies out of reach again. These times have forced us to realign our priorities, some changing adversity into an opportunity. And while I take Ms. Divya’s inspiring story and realign mine, my dear readers, prends soin, take care!

— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha