You need not always be strong, but you must be brave.
I have been thinking a lot about the difference between those two words: strong and brave. A friend commented to me that she was worried about people telling me to “be strong” or “you are such a strong person.” Both well intentioned and caring, genuine things to say. But like her, something about it stuck with me. What does it actually imply? Does it mean that I can’t be weak, that I can’t have moments of darkness or of not knowing? A lack of muscle; a lack of fortress; no shutters to batten down?
Able to withstand great force or pressure.
What if, sometimes, you need to crumble in order to build back up again? What if you need to get so weak that someone has to carry you across the finish line? What if there are days where you just can’t, and it’s ok?
Brave is being terrified and doing it anyway. Brave is one foot in front of the other. Brave is taking the leap and trusting that the parachute will open at the last minute, violently pulling you up… only to gently float you back to earth a moment later. Brave is showing up even when you can’t find the words to say. Brave is letting yourself cry when you want them all to think you’re fine.
You both idolize super heroes, fire fighters and army guys right now; a group of larger than life avengers and protectors, commonly associated with the word “strong.” And when I think about them, running toward the emergency, the fire, the disaster, the battle… I think: brave. It must be really scary, even if not in the moment as the adrenaline pumps through their veins, moving them forward… but after, when it’s all done. When it’s quiet. When they have time to really feel the feels, and process what happened– ostensibly, their job– but never routine, never not fear-inducing. And the most scary part to me, in their shoes- would be waiting for the next alarm to sound.
So, here I am, doing my very best to be brave. You are helping me by needing me. You need your mama to show up in all the ways little boys need their mamas– for hugs, tying shoes, blowing noses, reading books, finishing projects, refereeing arguments… so I am. Just one foot in front of the other. Brave. Onward.