Resilience is a word that’s being thrown around a lot lately, mostly by the generation or two above us telling us that we’re raising kids who are not resilient. Every generation will weather the unsolicited advice of those before them I’m sure, this one is ours it seems.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever really liked the word resilience. Saying someone needs to learn to be resilient sounds so hard ass and forced and ‘get over it and get on with it’. I’ve especially disliked when it’s been used in reference to my kids. As though they should learn to push down their natural responses and feelings in favour of being resilient, as though they should make other people feel more comfortable by not reacting in their own innate way.
What I’ve come to realise over the past eight years of parenting is that I am not particularly resilient. Or, more accurately, I wasn’t.
Motherhood has seen me grow in more ways than I can count, but teaching me how to resilient is a big one. I still don’t much like the word, and I don’t like how some of my resilience was built, but now it’s a part of me now, for the better. My resilience was built from all that pregnancy entails (especially the twin pregnancy that took everything I had), delivering four babies, but mostly just being thrust into motherhood with no training period - just a learn on the job situation. Congratulations, I know you’re exhausted and need to recover but here is your beautiful baby to immediately take care of. And that first baby, man, that experience is tough! Breathtakingly beautiful, and so tough.
Resilience was built by being given the honour to mother a child with a 1 in 50,000 births, randomly occurring very serious syndrome. Mothering her has taught me more about the strength deep within me more than any other life experience. It’s taught me how to advocate for her, how to protect the space of my little family and how to find joy in every single day. It has revealed to me the truth of how strong I really am.
Eight years and counting into motherhood and resilience has been built - and continues to be built - through sacrifice. From the get go, sacrificing my body through pregnancy and cesarean recovery. Sacrificing sleep (this one hurts a lot and feeds into so much more of life). Sacrificing lifestyle, money, career aspirations, travel and all of those other things I thought I had a lot of time to do. Sacrifice sounds as though I’m complaining, but I’m not. This is a part of building resilience in me, and also shows the depths of my priority as mama. These things are all sacrifices, yes, but they are sacrifices I am not just okay with making, I am overjoyed to make them. If it means mothering these four while bending and flexing with life as these children teach me how to mother, then I’ll happily take it.
I still don’t much like the word resilience but I like this version of myself. What I hope to reach my children is that resilience can be built through a gentle awareness of life around them. Of being flexible and questioning and supportive and adaptable, while looking for the positive path forward, not gritting their teeth and quietly bearing it.