One morning, not so long ago, as I accompanied my son into his classroom, he marked his arrival by proudly announcing to all who could hear, “My mum lost her job!”
Ouch. Like the bandages I so gingerly pull off my children’s scraped knees to trade quick pain for prolonged, the phrase stung. And there was no one nearby to kiss me and make it all better.
I swallowed, dug around in my metaphorical handbag for my brave, big girl face, and attempted to smile. It didn’t work. I welled up instead.
I was sad, of course, to have lost a position I’d worked hard for. I was also filled with emotion at his innocence. As I wiped back a few tears and knelt to say good-bye, he gave me a hug and apologized for making me sad. I told him there was absolutely nothing to apologize for. Everything was okay. Mummy was resilient.
Was I? The occurrences of the past month (unexpected expenses, medical bills, redundancy) had made me feel like I’d been punched in the gut. The surprises, in succession, had been hard. They’d hurt.
Yet, on the whole, I also didn’t feel that bad. My focus was sharpening daily on a plan for our next steps. My son’s innocent announcement had only caught me off guard. In an instant I knew what to say because I knew it was true. I am resilient. I will bounce back from this.
I think I know why. It’s because I have heroes.
I come from Italian grandparents who left post-war Italy with one suitcase, saying goodbye to their parents forever for opportunities in foreign lands. “I didn’t even have two dollars for a cup of coffee, but I had your Grandmother,” my Nonno would say.
Growing up, I was always reminded of how the sacrifices that were made by the preceding generations made it possible for my brother and I to grow up without strife. My grandparents were ordinary people who were shown, by life, that they were capable of extraordinary strength. Their trials and triumphs became our legends.
In our home, my mother always had a can-do attitude. She let me throw myself at any experience I could. She taught me that messing up was worth the life lesson that failure provided, and was necessary for growth. She knew that life twisted and turned, and that I needed to learn to get up again, dust myself off, and get back in the saddle.
My partner lost his parents early on in life and had to grow up quickly. He succeeded wildly beyond expectations for a young country kid from the deep south of New Zealand. This was due in large part to perseverance, stubbornness, and a keen drive for survival.
From my grandparents, I had legends. From my mother, I had lessons. From my partner, I had proof that when life demands strength from us, we’ll find what we need.
These people are my heroes. What I’ve learned from their adversities is that, even if I don’t know exactly what to do in a given moment, I know I will see it through. Because these people are mine, and they taught me that triumph is possible.
So now, it’s my turn to be a hero.
One day, my children and I will recount the story of the time Mummy lost her job. I don’t know yet how this legend will end, but I have confidence our hero will, eventually, save the day. After all, I come from a long line of every-day, in your face, never, ever, ever give up, stare-it-right-down warriors. I am fierce and exceedingly well-trained in the ways of trying again. It’s a lock.
Do you know how I’ll know I’ve won? When this little twist in the road becomes a new legend for my own heroes-in-training because, one day, they’ll be able to draw strength from my story. So what if I lost my job? I’ve been given an opportunity to show them what I’m truly capable of. I’m teaching them to be fierce.
So, as I take stock of my past month, I’m left with a new lesson. Resilience isn’t part of the story. Resilience is the story. As families, as tribes, and as people, we progress. We make use of the extraordinary examples we’ve seen in our loved ones as they tackle their ordinary days. We honor these heroes with our own, everyday bravery. We learn. We take stock. We move on.
Here’s to all of our heroes, and the heroes in all of us.