Monday, September 29, 2014

Resilience

We lose our way,
We get back up again
Never too late to get back up again. - Toby Mac

Chloe's at the age now where she's not only figured out how to crawl and get into everything, but she's also pulling up to stand -- which inevitably leads to falling.

Each day I watch her, and I try not to hover. Especially if she's on carpet, because I know the fall won't be that bad.

Lately I've found, when the toppling over happens, that I'm slower to rush to her. I wait to see if she can recover on her own. If she's really upset, I will go and pick her up, whispering in her ear, It's okay. You're okay.

One day when her tears quickly dried and she wriggled out of my arms so she could try her hand (or I should say, little legs) at standing once again, I realized that I was watching something absolutely essential.

I realized that I don't want to just teach my kids to believe in themselves. I don't want them to be smart or athletic or popular or even obedient or controlled. Those are all good things, no doubt. But more than anything I would like them to love God. Love their neighbor as themselves. And to be resilient.

I was the kind of kid who fell apart at everything. The school counselor once called my parents to try to find out why I cried so much. I tended to look at an individual situation that was upsetting me, and then tack on every other thing that I had a reason to be upset about in life, and would quickly down-spiral.

This type of reacting followed me to adulthood, and to the workplace. I remember coordinating a newsletter that didn't come out quite as I'd hoped, and a negative comment from the boss sent me to the bathroom in tears, feeling as if I were eight years old again.

Recently I read that this type of all or nothing, explosive thinking is very common for people on the autism spectrum. It's the reason why one bad moment can cause Ethan to proclaim that "This day is terrible!" and to start naming all of his perceived injustices over the past week. It's about regulating your emotions, in part. It's about perspective. And that word again: resilience.

In the Sunday paper the other day there was a section on people who had faced tragedy and come out on the other side. I read and marveled at the woman whose family had been murdered; the father who forgave and even befriended the man who'd killed his son.

These extreme examples are closer to miracles than the result of sheer effort and determination. Most of us will not have those kind of life-shattering circumstances.

But resilience can be choosing to keep trying in math even when you got a failing grade. To press on and make friends when you feel left out. Recovering from a break-up without making foolish choices on the rebound. Using a layoff to take a new career direction instead of sinking into despair.

It could be choosing to keep believing even when your faith has been wounded.

For Chloe, today, resilience is learning to get back up when she's fallen. Just as someday, she'll need to climb back on that bike when she's fallen off and scraped her knees.

And so I hang back, wait, and watch. I try to remember that always rescuing my children and fighting their battles is just one way to help them, but not always the best way. And I choose to believe: maybe now, maybe today, I can practice resilience, too. Maybe I can trust that it's never too late to learn.

1 comment:

rhemashope said...

I love this, Deb. Thank you. xo