After being ill over the weekend, I for some reason started thinking about strength. Ironically, a friend posted something on Facebook last night about not feeling strong enough. But, what does it mean to be strong? In our society, we often thinking of someone who is fit. We also equate strength with stoicism or apathy. We look up to people who seem to never show emotion or fall apart.
But, I don't want my sons growing up thinking that way. Once you become a parent, strength takes on a whole new meaning, and it's demonstrated in various ways. And, as you get older and experience more of the life's ups and downs, that definition also changes.
I want my sons to have a more realistic view of strength.
Strength is not stoicism. Strength is not apathy. It doesn't take strength to hate someone. It doesn't take strength to be mean, unkind, or rude.
Strength is being able to pick yourself up off of the bathroom floor after you've been sick for an hour in order to get a heating pad for your child who is having growing pains in his leg.
Strength is being at the end of your rope but somehow finding a way to take a deep breath and speak calmly to your child after they've just spilled an entire glass of milk on the floor (after you reminded them six million times to be careful).
Strength is allowing yourself to cry and then wiping away those tears and putting on a great, big smile.
Strength is not allowing other people to ruin your day, but instead, acknowledging that they've done or said something unkind and then moving on.
Strength is finding a way to be courteous to everyone, regardless of their attitudes and behaviors.
Strength is allowing yourself to see people for who they really are and not trying to change them - to just let them be themselves.
Strength is knowing when to say enough is enough - at work, in relationships, and when eating a disgustingly delicious brownie sundae (although that last one might be the most difficult).
Strength is not letting the actions of others be a reflection of you but understanding that it's merely a reflection of the kind of person they are.
Strength is stepping on a toy in the middle of the night and resisting the urge to smash it against the wall even though your foot hurts like hell.
Strength is having the courage to establish healthy boundaries with people who have hurt you and maintaining those boundaries when they're challenged.
Strength is finding your limits, recognizing your flaws, and working within those restraints to continuously improve as a person.
Strength is the ability to play I Spy 500 times in one day and not completely lose your sanity.
Strength is kindly ignoring people when they try to tell you how you should feel or what you should be doing - even though they have absolutely no understanding of your situation.
Strength is being able to stifle a laugh when your child loudly asks, "What rhymes with dick?" in the middle of a crowded waiting room.
Strength is being able to bite your tongue when you know the words you are suppressing would only be unkind and damaging.
Strength is allowing yourself a few moments to mourn what "should be" but isn't, and then moving on and making the best of what is.
Strength is not allowing your disappointment in others to affect your outlook on people in general.
Strength is trying when you know you're probably going to fail and not feeling like a complete failure because you gave it everything you had.
Strength is finding just one more way to keep your child occupied while you continue to wait and wait and wait at the doctor's office (and not strangle the receptionist if she tells you one more time that it will only be "a few more minutes").
Strength is being able to carry a child, a purse, a diaper bag, a backpack, two bags of groceries, a pizza, a sippy cup, and a latte and not spilling one single thing. It's also a skill that is finely tuned once you have small children. So, if you're not there yet, don't worry. you will be.
Get thee to an independent bookstore.
1 hour ago