This past year, I've been engulfed in a whirlwind of lessons, of realizations, of maturity. Maturity that stems from growing a human -- feeling life wiggle inside of my body -- and observing the rapid development of our species.
One lesson, however, stands out to me: The importance of resilience.
I'm not so much talking about physical resilience, although the flexibility of our bodies through pregnancy and labor are nothing short of extraordinary. The skin on your stomach stretches beyond comprehension; your joints and ligaments loosen; your stomach visibly morphs as the human living inside of you moves. Justin -- who watched Noah being born, despite our concern that he would pass out from just being in the room -- was amazed at how my pelvis opened up and changed form as my body expelled the baby. And then it all goes back to normal. Mind blowing.
But no, what I really mean is the importance of psychological resilience.
I see it all around me: A family member who battled blood and bone cancer; another who had breast surgery three times this year, forced to reassess her mortality and vanity; another who just lost a job; another who recently buried her soulmate. Their strength has been an inspiration, especially now that I know how easy it is to sit down and give up. If these past 17 months have taught me anything, it's that life cannot be planned. Period. And all you can do is roll with it. When I first got pregnant, it honestly felt insurmountable. All of my immediate plans seemed unrealistic, my future looked stagnant, my hard work meaningless. I had the urge to huddle under the covers waving a white flag.
Justin and I are both highly ambitious, talented, skilled. We're not ones to put life on cruise control, mindlessly going through the motions; and while we both have the option to stay at safe, semi-miserable (for me) jobs, we've come to the conclusion that settling for "good enough" won't do. We give ourselves no option besides making it work -- jumping the hurdles with a baby in our arms. No excuses.
But don't we all know people who have been completely defeated by an obstacle? Something happened -- perhaps a series of events, maybe just one circumstance -- that knocked them on their ass, and to this day they use it as an excuse to stay down. I refuse to let getting pregnant define me. I refuse to invest all of my happiness, my energy, my future, in a single event. And I refuse to let the greatest love I've ever known be a hindrance.
We can't shield our children from the heartache and disappointment and tragedy that life inevitably brings. They're going to get hurt, regardless. But if we can teach them how to be resilient -- how to pick themselves back up, to carry on, no matter the force of the blow -- they'll always be protected. If they know how to bounce back, then we've done our job.