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Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything just feels hard?
Being a mom is hard.
Being a wife is hard.
Being a boss is hard.
Being a friend is hard.
One of those weeks where you are grateful when Friday finally arrives, because you want nothing more than to crawl up in a ball, pull the covers over your head, and lose yourself in a tub of ice cream and a Netflix marathon.
Not long ago I was having exactly that kind of week, and so, feeling like I was at the end of my rope, I went to go visit my mom.
And in the way that moms do, she sat and listened as I told her about my bad day.
She was so sweet and kind and empathetic that I couldn’t help start to feel a little better. It wasn’t that she had any advice to offer, or even any words of wisdom, but mostly that she was just willing to sit in that moment with me and feel my frustration right along with me.
It meant everything.
We talked about other things too, about my daughters Maggie and Annie, and how school was going and their new violin teacher and about the cute new house that my sister has been fixing up, and about my brother’s new job and the latest news stories, and I showed her the cute pictures we had taken a few weeks earlier.
And then, as I was about to leave, I took the notepad from her table and wrote down everything we talked about, and I thanked her for being so kind and understanding.
Because without that note, she wouldn’t remember anything we talked about.
You see, my mom has dementia.
For the most part she remembers people, and can recall much from the past, but her short-term memory is almost completely gone. Every day is a blank slate. And every day we have with her is a precious gift.
After I finished writing, I handed her the notebook so that she could read what I wrote, knowing that she had probably already forgotten most of the conversation.
She quietly read it to herself several times, and then finally she said, “Thank you. Thank for telling me I was kind, and that it helped you. I think we should all be kind to each other more often.”
Oh how right she is!
I don’t know about you, but in those kind of weeks, where everything feels hard, I find myself wishing that things could just be easy sometimes. I often want a quick fix that just isn’t there.
But wishing things were different isn’t going to get me very far.
And so I know I have to make a choice. I can wallow in the unfairness of it all, or I can take a deep breath and move on and choose to be kind. I can choose to see the beauty within the mess, and to appreciate the good that comes with the bad. I can feel sorry for myself or I can choose to make the best of a bad situation. I can run away or I can choose to stay and fight.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The greatest measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Along those same lines, Supreme Court justice William J. Brennan noted that sometimes “we must meet the challenge, rather than wish it were not before us.”
In other words, sometimes we need the bitter to taste the sweet.
And sometimes we just have to accept that life is what it is, and make the choice to rise above our circumstances, to be kind and grateful, even when we don’t feel like it, and even when we shouldn’t have to.
After all, our greatest character is built in times like these.
And so, my challenge for you, if you are feeling like things are harder than they should be right now, is to not give up.
Curl up in bed with a tub of your favorite ice cream and Netflix marathon if you have to, but choose to make the best of a hard situation. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Refuse to run away. Choose kindness and gratitude.
The strength to prevail is there inside you.
You might just have to dig a little deeper to find it.