When my twins were brand new, any public appearance by my family of three-kids-under-three tended to elicit a wide range of comments from strangers. Some were really sweet and supportive, some were totally ridiculous, and others were downright obnoxious. The one I enjoyed the most 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, destiny, or simple biology sort of dropped them in my lap and because those were my circumstances, 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's the alternative?
When you are a mother, you do things that in other circumstances, you might never have had 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. When you are home alone with three children that need to be fed and bathed and 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 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 metastatic pancreatic cancer. Within a few short weeks, her tiny 86 year old cancer-ridden frame yielded to the disease and she passed away. I was young and inexperienced and 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, I realize I did things then that I never thought, at 17, I would have had the strength to do. You can't prepare for the moment you'll have to cradle the woman who once cradled you, 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 and 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 think we would all say the same things about experiences with our children: to run away from the daily drudgery, the constant needs and demands of (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, nonetheless. I generally run three miles or so at a pace that is almost manageable. By the end of that third mile, I'm normally cursing, or crying, or yelling obscenities at the little red number on my treadmill that marks mileage and changes much too slowly for comfort. I decided that if I slowed down 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 then, miracle of miracles, I felt great 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 still a challenge - a challenge that we can get through if we change our thinking, and give ourselves the opportunity to rise to the occasion.
We, as women, are so much stronger than we think we are. We get comfortable in our routines and our patterns and our tiny comfort zones. But if we can break down the walls that we put up around ourselves, remarkable things will happen.
Because we can do it.
Because we ARE strong enough.
MommyJ is an aspiring writer and stay at home Mom to five children. She lives with her children and husband of nine years in a tiny town in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina - a place she considers the loveliest on earth. She hikes to enjoy time with her family, runs because her love for food requires it, writes to maintain her sanity and blogs as often as her crazy children and busy schedule allow on her personal blog, www.mommysnark.blogspot.com