When my twins were newborn, whenever I went out in public, with two small babies, and a 2 year old to boot, I tended to elicit a lot of different comments from strangers. Some really sweet and supportive, some totally ridiculous, and some even more towards the obnoxious side of the spectrum. The one I enjoyed the most though was when people would say, “I couldn’t do it if I were you…” I always responded, “Well, you would if they were your kids.”
See, I didn’t ask to have two babies at once… fate, or destiny, or simple biology sort of dropped them in my lap and because it was what my circumstances were, I rose to the challenge and took care of it… just like any other mother worth half her salt would do in the same situation. Because what choice do we have?
It’s a difficult thing to explain, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to, but I have a feeling that a large part of my readers are mothers, and will understand what I mean. When you are a mother, you do things that, in other circumstances, you may never have the strength to do. When a baby cries for your milk in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter if you have the flu, or a broken leg, or a migraine headache… if YOU are the only one that can feed the baby, you will get up and do it. (Understand I’m not making any kind of statement about husbands helping, or not helping with the children… whether we have supportive husbands or not, we all find ourselves in situations where the caregiver, if even for a short period of time, is us, and us alone… it is that which I am discussing.) When you are home alone with three children that need to be fed and need to be cleaned and need to be taught the alphabet and the ten commandments, and the golden rule, you rise to the challenge and do it… because if you don’t do it, who will? Even in the face of terrible, difficult, painful circumstances, mothers all over everywhere continually rise to the challenge and do for their children what needs to be done. Because it’s necessary. Because we cannot, will not, turn our backs on those that need us.
When I was a senior in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and within a few short weeks, passed away, leaving behind her tiny 86 year old cancer ridden frame. I was young and inexperienced and was very uncomfortable with the idea of death, but I loved my grandmother desperately and wanted to be with her through the days before she died. Looking back on the situation, I did things that I never thought, at 17 I would have had the strength to do. One certainly can’t prepare for the moment they’ll have to cradle the women who once cradled her, lifting her gently to attend to her needs. Had you asked me if I had the strength to do it, I’m not sure I would have been able to say yes beforehand. But my grandmother needed me, my mother needed me, so I put one foot in front of the other, and did what was required. Those weeks before my grandmother’s death changed me forever. I saw glimpses of eternity and family and the great circle of life and progression that, had I cowered in fear or discomfort, I never would have experienced.
I would imagine we would all say the same things about our experiences with our children… to run away from the daily drudgery, the constant needs and demands of small, or not so small children, is to run away from those moments, those glimpses of something so much bigger than ourselves… those moments that change us for the better.
Another example: I am a runner. Begrudgingly so, at times, but a runner,none the less. I generally run three miles or so, at a pace that is almost manageable. Almost in the sense that by the end of my third mile, I’m normally cursing, or crying, or yelling obscenities at the little red number on my treadmill that marks my mileage and changes much too slow for my comfort. I decided though, that if I slowed down a bit, and changed my mindset, I might be able to push myself a bit harder. So the last time I ran, I started my run thinking that three miles was only halfway. Over and over I told myself… three miles is half way… you get there, then you keep going. I was surprised that at two and a half miles, I still felt really good.. I kept going and ran six miles, double my normal distance… and felt really good when I was done. I thought to myself,”I can do this… why wasn’t I doing this before?” The only thing that was different was my mindset… (and my speed… a reminder not to run faster than I am able :)) Simply by changing the way I thought about my run, I discovered I was capable of much, much more than I previously thought.
Obviously running 6 miles is different than caring for children, or losing loved ones. But it’s the same in that it’s a challenge… a challenge that we can get through if we change our thinking, and give ourselves the opportunity to rise to whatever the challenge is.
I think that women are so much stronger than we often think we are. We get comfortable in our routines and our patterns and our sometimes tiny little comfort zones… but if we could just break down the walls that we put up around ourselves, really remarkable things could, and will happen.
Because we can do it.
Because we ARE strong enough.