Driving home from preschool today, two bubbles floated across the street like they had somewhere to get to. I couldn’t see any sign of someone blowing bubbles, or even any other bubbles, anywhere. They must be mighty resilient, I thought. One was bigger than the other, and it looked like a mama bubble and a baby bubble. I imagined the wind, the buildings, the people, or even the animals they might have encountered before crossing my path. And yet they remained intact, beautifully sparkling in the sun while floating just above my car. Resilient.
I said the word aloud, and my daughter repeated it.
“It’s a great word,” I told her. I had actually looked the word up that very morning. My friend and I were talking about parenting, and she mentioned wanting to raise resilient children. She advised me not to constantly rescue my children, to not be afraid to let them suffer, and to realize that adversity creates strong children.
All week, I’ve been trying to rescue my older daughter from the bossy, mean girls who roll their eyes on the playground and insult her. I’m the mom who calls the teacher and wants to be there, mediating, controlling the situation, and ensuring total peace and happiness for my child.
Last night, I gave up the fight. I’m lying on the bed with my daughter. I’m listening to her talk and talk and talk about the mean girls, about the bullies, about the gossip and jealousy. For once, I don’t try to solve it; I don’t go email the teacher again. I’ve been doing that all year. For the rest of my daughter’s life, there will be mean girls. I can’t save her, no matter how hard I try.
“Look,” I said. “You are just great. I love everything about you. You will figure out a way to handle those girls. I believe in you. God is with you. You can figure this out.”
“I know,” she said, smiling with that one loose tooth hanging by a thread. “I totally will.”
The dictionary tells me that a resilient person possesses the ability to recover readily from adversity. In science, resilience refers to the energy a thing can store up as it deforms or is put under stress that it releases as it reforms. In organizations, resiliency is the ability to positively adapt to the consequences of a catastrophic failure.
I’m praying that she’s storing up energy from this, that she’ll learn that ready recovery skill, and that whatever catastrophic failures come, she can positively adapt. Tonight, I’m telling her I’m so proud of the resiliency she’s already shown in these enormous eight years.
Resilient girls can handle anything. Put that on her resume! Put that in the cover letter! I survived recess today. What did you do?
This way of living with flair is the only way I’ll survive parenting. Living with flair means I value raising resilient children. It means I embrace adversity myself for what it’s storing up in me.