“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne
I’ve got a little pet peeve. The row I’ve been given to hoe is not the easiest- boy howdy, do I know it. But the truth is, I have a roof over my head, student loans piling up, three kids who are healthy, food in the ‘fridge, friends and family who love us, and a great ward. I’m fairly smart, and the Lord blessed me with a few talents to help me get by. My current circumstances might kind of suck (and some days really really suck) but honestly, I’m just a regular person getting by the best I can.
Lately, as I plow through what must be done, people have been making what I know are meant as kind comments about how amazing or strong I seem. At first, this felt kind of nice. But as they’ve become more frequent, I’m becoming perplexed. I’m confused- I am no more or less strong than anyone- I get up each morning and do what has to be done. Sometimes it’s harder than others, sometimes I cry and yell, sometimes I laugh and dance. Sometimes the weight feels crushing, sometime I feel invincible.
It’s not “strong” or “amazing” to take care of your children- it’s simply what a mother does. Some days I rock, other days I crash and burn- just ask my kids. Hopefully when it all shakes out, the rocking-days will outnumber the fireballs, but who knows yet. The fact that there is no one else to share this task doesn’t make me strong, or a hero. It just makes it part of life.
Today at church a man told me I was his hero. I sat, while he chatted, and was bemused and kind of perplexed. I know he meant this as a compliment, as he told me how he was in school too, but with a wife and one child, and how hard it was for him. I don’t know what to say, so I smile and nod, and bite the inside of my cheek. What the heck else am I supposed to do besides find a way to make this damn thing work? I don’t understand.
In talking the other day with a friend who has a son with a severe disability, we agreed being told repeatedly how “strong” we were was getting to be a really bummer. What people are really saying, without meaning to, is that they are really glad they don’t have my life. And then I feel like I have to thank them for complimenting me on not having my life. It’s a very weird thing.
Comments on my strength are quite often followed up by a statement along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t do it.” And again, how perplexing is this? What do you mean? Yes, you could- and if your world blew into a million pieces, you would, because dammit, no one else is going to. I’m not stronger than you. I’m not braver or more heroic. I’m terrified most of the time, and I get up every morning and get back in the saddle- not because it’s fun, not because I want to- because I have to. And given the three little faces looking at you, you would too.