“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.” ~Marianne Williamson
One small phrase, so much impact. This phrase has gotten me through some rather tough life moments. “Tough.” The word itself is loaded with meaning and in itself denotes a story to be told. “Tough” is not a word thrown around our home loosely. Tough has two somewhat contradictory meanings. Tough can mean something that is physically or emotionally damning or it can be used in the context of a result of overcoming insurmountable odds. It just depends on whether “tough” is used as a “what is/was” or a “whom is/was.”
Driving my daughter home from school the other day, we were deep in conversation. One thing I love about my daughter is her level of perception and ability to understand and relate. I don’t hide things from her. I believe in truth above all in our family. Some truths are stated more bluntly than others, others delivered in an age appropriate manner but, truth is delivered daily, above all.
I was explaining to her an encounter that I had that day with the parent of a child who had spent a good amount of time “trying” to bully my daughter at one point or another for an extended period of time. It broke down to me allowing this individual enough slack in order to either prove to me that they were in fact a good person or they were someone who would remain inconsequential to myself and my family. I explained to my daughter that these individuals had become inconsequential and it was put to the other party in a very calm but firm manner that the future would be one of personal separation and solitude. The separation of our family from such an uncomplimentary force and solitude from further defamation of our character for whatever reason put forth by these individuals. My daughters response after our conversation was, “You’re one tough mama!”
I nearly winced when she said that. I was thankful that she could not see my face, as I was driving. The last thing I ever want my child to believe is that asserting yourself is to be considered “tough.” Asserting yourself is merely just that. It is matter of fact and just a way of life I want our child to know and live by. I want her to always stand up for herself but in no way does that deserve the monicker “tough.” It’s a slippery slope into the school of thought that being outspoken, aggressive and just a plain asshole is to be considered “tough.” Ego driven behavior is not tough. In fact, it is seen as more of a weakness in my eyes. Those who run around beating their chests, claiming they can beat up the world are weak in mind, confidence and are stunted in their perception of what “tough” really is.
What does “tough” really look like then?
“Tough” has many different faces and varies from mother to mother, but in my mind tough looks like:
~a 24 year old young mother of two losing the love of her life at the hands of western medicine, 1 month before their first born’s birthday, and 4 months before the arrival of their second born. “Tough” does her best with what she has, works non-stop to provide for her children the best way she knows how, even if it is to her own detriment and she goes through their childhood’s having to miss out on so many sweet moments and memories.
~ a mother of two, battling cancer. Waking up everyday just glad to have been given the gift of breath and eyes that still open. Not knowing from day to day whether she will make it to watch her children graduate school or see either of them walk down the aisle. Thanking God for every moment of nausea or blinding pain, because at least that means they are still here, as long as they can feel it, they are still here.
~ a mother, devoted her life to her husband, home and children who one day finds herself with the short straw because husband has a midlife crisis or change of heart. Leaving “tough” to fend for herself with her children when all she knows is just her husband, home and children.
~a mother, who finds herself in every mother’s nightmare just to pinch herself and realize that it’s not a nightmare but reality. It’s every mothers worst nightmare to fathom having to bury your own child before you take your last breath but this is the epitome of “tough.”
You see, to me, “tough” when used to describe a person or an action is the behavior or act of being at a crossroads at one of life’s gnarliest intersections where you would be completely justified for taking “Easy Street” but you take “Less Traveled Road” because you know that your decision affects more than just you and the outcome of your street choice may impact your child(ren) more greatly than you in the long run. So you choose “Less Traveled Road” because your child(ren) are at the forefront of your decision. THAT is a “tough mama.” That is the definition of “tough” that I want my daughter to know in and out as it is not what happens in our lives that defines us, it is how we react to it that does.
-Much love to my “Tough Mama’s.” You know who you are, although one lost her battle with Cancer not too long ago, her memory lives on and inspires others, including me, to live “the good life and keep fighting the good fight.”