When I was little, (well a young girl!!) I always thought being brave meant that you did not cry, and that you just got up and kept playing. I would sit and look at my Dad and think about how brave he was being in the army, and try to be ‘as brave’ as he was. Little did I know that being brave has nothing to do with not crying. Being brave is so much more than that.
Being brave has everything to do with how we cope with even the smallest things that can upend our theoretical apple cart.
Being a wife/partner and a parent is quite simply put one of the bravest things ever. I mean seriously – you have pledged your love, support, and yourself to one person. Bold move eh? Then to have kids – well – how many times daily is your heart in your mouth with fear of what could happen when the kids fall over, run off just out of eye sight, or decide that climbing that *insert item here* is a great idea? I have four children, who have heard my heart beat from the inside, and who I predominantly made – I mean I have accomplished the feat of making four hearts, eight lungs, eight kidneys and so on. Pretty darn tricky stuff. But oh the fear and worry that comes with that. I have heard so many people attribute their grey hair to children or spouses. Well, I am yet to have any greys, but I think I am pretty deserving of some! Jason on the other hand has a fair sprinkling – haha!
Being brave is about accepting who you are. Accepting that maybe things have changed, and that it is or will be OK. Accepting that your children can tie their own shoelaces and so your role changes a little, and you become an active spectator as opposed to the driving force. It means, to me, that you have to instill courage, confidence and kindness so that they too can face the challenges of a day – be it at school, kindy, or at home.
In one of my many jobs – as a nurse, I have had the privilege of caring for some of the most courageous and inspirational people. Brave, stoic and accepting. Accepting that they can no longer fight or stave off death – but doing so with dignity far beyond anything I think I could ever muster. These people leave such a mark in this world, and we all have so very much to learn from that simple word – acceptance. It is such a liberal word and can be applied in so many situations. But quite often, acceptance requires courage. How we choose our battles is often related directly to what we are accepting of or not.
Friendships are a great example. I am lucky enough to have some amazing friends with whom I have been friends with for longer than I can remember. The kind that I still have letters from school tucked away in a box of keepsakes that no matter what, will never be thrown out. Then there are the friends that prior to knowing them, I don’t remember what it was like to not have them in my life. Roles change in friendships, and sometimes, no matter how much it hurts, accepting that things are never going to be the same as they were ten, twenty or even two years ago is a good thing. Because only better things can happen from a history of mutual respect, trust, and love.
There is a saying, that strength comes in numbers. For the triplets I guess this always means that they will have backup – they will have each other at school. For Hayden, it means every day, he packs courage in his lunchbox and engages with other children and teachers at school. He does it well. But geez, some days it must be difficult. He is only *just* seven, and some days he is so insightful, well beyond his years. He recounts stories of his day at school and sometimes talks about ‘a bigger kid telling him he was stupid/fat/dumb/*insert any other insult here’ and he has not made a deal about it – he has said back to the child – ‘please go away, you are being rude’. This makes my heart break. How incredibly brave he is to even say that – but even more so – how brave he is to recount the story to me and not ‘make a deal’ of it. It is just a factual story to him. The kid amazes me. He sticks up for his friends too – and for this, I am so incredibly proud of the young boy he is becoming. He sees what occurs as just an annoyance – like a fly, to be shooed away. He also accepts that some people are just rude (his words) because we are all different. I wish I was like that at 7!
So every day I think we all need to pack our courage. Because we are all different – and we all have differences that make us unique, but also vulnerable. Accepting my shortcomings is still a work in progress – I will get back to you on that one (in probably ten years!!). But for the most part, I try, every day, to be kind, honest, respectful, and brave. And to my friends and family, I try every day to be the best wife, mother, sister, friend, aunt, daughter and person that I can be – but I am not great every day which is why I have you all in my life to be brave with me, and brave for me. And you know what – it really is OK to cry, because no matter what, somethings, whether you accept them or not, still hurt, and you can’t change them. Being brave means showing your feelings – and having your voice heard; and the reward is often immeasurable – as it will be your family, friends and loved ones that will really know you and your feelings. I am not a cryer – but I do think there is something quite cathartic about having enough courage to allow yourself to feel. And to accept. And to them get back up, and move forward.
Things in my thirties are not always what I thought they would be. Life in general is not always as easy as you think it will be when you are 20! Some of the most trying things are situational – the afternoon arsenic hour – which feels as though it lasts forEVER but it really is only an hour or so. The tears. The tantrums. The deadlines. The constant vying for your attention – from all over – and not being able to spread yourself thinly enough. Because of this, I have dropped the ball in some areas. I cannot remember the last time I had a hair cut. I cannot remember ever, not being this busy. And sometimes that is not a good thing. As I see everything as a ‘to do list’ – which does not bode well with my husband and friends that don’t ‘work’ like that. I can be over the top, involved, and so incredibly emotive. But that is me – and it takes guts every day sometimes just to get up and face the daily routine, because I know that I will likely be outnumbered and harangued by my little army of children. But I am getting better at accepting that maybe soon, the swings and roundabouts of life will see me spending more time with friends, family and loved ones. I am being optimistically accepting hah!
I hope to acquire some stoic traits, and to be a little more open about not only how I feel, but what I want. I hope, more importantly, that my kids can take Hayden’s lead, and be proactive in being brave, courageous, and strong. Because it takes strength to get up again, and again, and again. And that is ultimately what we all need to be able to do – be brave and be strong to our values, needs and feelings.