Thursday, April 16, 2009

Resilience

resilient: adj. capable of resuming its shape, position, etc. after being subjected to stress, elastic. [from the Latin, resiliens, resilire, to spring back]


I often say it is my goal to raise independent, resilient children. As a Mom, though, it's hard to gauge how resilient I actually am.

At first, the relentless physical and emotional demands of caring for a tiny baby, of being responsible for his well-being, even feeding him from my very self, was a shock. It took a good six weeks for me to come to terms with the fact that motherhood was a 24 hour per day job. Until I did, resilience eluded me.

But with time and help, I adjusted. That first stretching into the new shape of motherhood almost broke me, but didn't. To my surprise I found I had a stronger, more flexible core than I imagined.

I have come to love being a Mom. And I have learned that this process of stretching, reaching, snapping back occurs on multiple levels over days, weeks, even years. Every childhood phase, medical scare or job worry pulls at me. In time each stress passes. I adjust and make my way again.

My life as a Mom has its undisputed high points. I had a few moments on Easter day when I stood fully in the warm sunbeam of familial love. When I felt the perfection of the day and of our life. It couldn't have felt better. What a contrast from those first difficult days.

There are lows as well, sometimes right on the heels of the highs.

On Monday, I was pounded by relentless waves of bickering. The children clawed through their last day of vacation by finding innovative ways to annoy and betray one another. I grew tired of the rancor. It was an assault to my spirit and my senses.

The sole piece of mail I received that day was a one-line rejection of a resume I had submitted to a local non-profit. It was for a job I knew I could do, was excited about, was hopeful for. Despite my skills, background, and stellar references, they didn't even interview me.

Talk about bruised pride.

It was a sad end to a difficult day.

I fumbled my way through supper and put the children to bed. My husband, seeing my disappointment, was quiet. He brought me tea and asked about my plans for the evening.

I was nestled in a blanket in a cozy corner of the couch, but three full baskets of clean, unfolded laundry glared at me from across the room. I gave them a nod, "tackle those, I guess."

"Nonsense. Wait here." Moments later, he left the house.

It was the nudge I needed to give myself a reprieve from the housework. I looked over the letter again and took guilty pleasure in finding a spelling mistake.

I was content with the quiet until my husband returned. "You need a distraction," he told me as he popped in a DVD.

It was Beverly Hills Cop. He knew just what would brighten my mood. Vintage Eddie Murphy.

I was so grateful for him. We talked into the night and I confessed my feelings.

The worst part of it was that I knew at least ten different ways I would have been able to help this non-profit do its work more effectively. He listened carefully and told me it was their loss that they hadn't given me a chance. The fact that theirs is a cause I care about just made the rejection harder to take.

It has forced me to face the question: How resilient am I?

My caring spouse gave me a pretty good bounce back in the attitude department. But the professional side remains unresolved.

I am a woman of action, impatient with waiting for others' approval. Maybe it's time to make my own opportunities. I may have been stretched, but I haven't shattered, right?

So I'll take some time to rethink, reset my priorities, and make a plan of action. Through the process, maybe the way forward will reveal itself.

There are times when I want to break instead of springing back.

Then I tell myself today is not the day for breaking.

It's not what Moms do.

- Midwest Mom

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this bit of yourself, especially the glimpse into how long it takes to bounce back from the suddenness of becoming a mother. I really like your description of resilience. Good luck with the professional side of things, I have a feeling you will bounce back from this set-back too!

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  2. This is a beautifully written post, Julia. You've captured the ups and downs perfectly in relation to motherhood. I loved the ebb and flow of this post.

    I am so sorry about the rejection from the NonProfit. Your husband is wise. It is THEIR loss, obviously. It is often in these rejections that we find our strength and venture out in a new direction. I hope that doesn't sound too pat. Here's to a new path!

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  3. Thanks for sharing a lovely post. I have to admit, I question my resilience when it comes to the bickering. It nearly undoes me!

    And I must congratulate you on picking a kind, thoughtful husband - and kudos to your hubby for being that guy. Mine is great, and he would sit and listen to me -- but I doubt he'd think to go find me a funny movie to lift my spirits!

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  4. Sorry to hear you didn't get the job. It's nothing to be ashamed of in this job market though. It's tough out there.

    A few years ago, when the job market was not so horrible, I applied to a job that it's only requirement was a high school diploma. I not only had a college degree but two years of work experience in the area. So I went for the interview and it went so well I pretty much bragged to everyone who would listen that I was sure I would get the job. Later I received a generic letter of rejected via email. I think I was angry more at myself than the company but now I have found a job I enjoy and I guess it's like that saying that you have to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince.. or something like that..

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