I am actually very brave. I used to think that bravery only came in one size. That size being the police/firefighter/military/folks that jump out of planes kind. Now, that size is pretty darn brave and one that I will simply never attain. That's fine, I am cool with that, but I have come to realize that there are other kinds of bravery. Different sizes, if you will. And the thing about sizes, as anyone who cooks or sews or wears shoes knows, is that sometimes you need a large and sometime you need an extra small. Comparing sizes is about as stupid as comparing baby weights; meaning we do it all the time and it drives us all crazy.
So, let's stop comparing sizes and just agree that we all have our own special braveries. And no, that doesn't mean because "we are all special, none of us are truly special." That's the argument of the small-minded who think the world's skills are as limited as its resources. The world's riches are not limited to iron and ore, but roll forever forward in a vast array of people as endlessly creative as the stars in the sky. (See, I told you I was brave! Who else uses such flowery prose on purpose?)
I know many brave people. Awesome Mom, Phenomenal Mom, and all my other working mom friends, leave their children every morning and head off to work outside the home; engaging in a balancing act only known to the best tightrope walkers. My ally, Rock Star Mom, boldly feeds her children McDonald's at the Crunchy Mom Park, smiling sweetly and strongly at anyone who approaches her; she is killing them softly with kindness, that one. I have actually never ever witnessed my friend Wonderful Mom raise her voice. Ever. She has 3 children under 7, a husband in residency, a million responsibilities, and a self-composure that rivals that of the greatest generals of the greatest armies in the world. Excellent Mom just completely redid her house by herself. Like her whole house. Like solo. With power tools and everything. My ally, Amazing Mom, writes with a transparency and honesty that speaks to your heart immediately and lingers in your mind long after. They are all incredibly brave, in so many ways. Ways that weave and fold over each other to create a peerless quilt of womanly bravery. Victor Hugo once wrote that "Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery." I am not sure I think there are male and female forms of bravery, but I do think that curiosity is one of the oldest and purest forms of bravery there is. One that my friends, and parents in general, tend to have in spades.
One could argue that even agreeing to bring a human being into the world is a massive show of bravery. Bravery of the highest order. Then, someone agrees to raise this child; either through birth, adoption, fostering, step-parenting, or being part of the whole village. Someone says, "Yes. Yes, I will make sure this tiny, defenseless, hungry, probably pooping, little person makes it to adulthood and manages to contribute in a positive way to society as a whole. Yes." What makes us do this? It isn't mandated. There is no law that you have to have children, and many people decide to use their bravery elsewhere. It isn't boredom; like oh, there is nothing on TV tonight, guess I'll raise a couple kids. (Although, Awkward Dad makes the point that boredom may be exactly how some kids start their journey to us, biologically speaking. He's gross.) It isn't required of us in any way, barring the few remaining royals who need to produce heirs, and yet, we continue to take this massive leap of faith and bring children into a world that is pretty scary and dangerous and has no guarantee of remaining livable for the duration of our progenies' lives. Are we all just crazy?
No. No, we are not crazy. We are curious, strong, willing, loving, flawed, generous, and brave people. Brave? Screw that; we are fearless. Have you ever met a child? A baby? There is nothing scarier in the world than that first time you are holding your baby alone. The nurses aren't in there with you. Your mom has stepped out for some coffee. Your partner is passed out in the corner. Maybe your baby starts to cry. Maybe she fusses a little in her sleep. Or maybe, scarier still, he just lies there in your arms and you become terrified that he isn't breathing. You stare at the little child that you are now responsible for and, all of a sudden, the weight of that threatens to crush your shoulders. But it doesn't crush them. You take a deep breath, you square those strong brave shoulders of yours, and you tend to your baby. Doesn't matter what that baby needs, you have got it. You have got this. You are brave.
I am brave. I don't leave my babies everyday with my head high and my brain whirling in a million directions, like my working sisters. I still live in fear of crunchy mom judgement and could never rock the confidence that Rock Star Mom wields. I raise my voice hourly, so the quiet, steely bravery of Wonderful Mom is out. My house skills hover around doing the dishes, on occasion, so the boundless brawn of Excellent Mom is totally beyond me. My writing will never be so purely honest as Amazing Mom. No, those are all the curious gifts of others. But I have my own, awkward, bravery. You must remember that bravery is not going forward because you have no fear. No, it is marching forward even though you are terrified. It is finding something to banish that fear, and that something must be as unique as yourself. You can't wield a weapon that doesn't fit in your own hand, so I don't use my brains, my confidence, my wisdom, my strength, or my creativity. No, I tell Fear a big joke and then steal whatever it is that I want while he is doubled over with laughter.
Like today. Today, I took 4 children to the movie theater. I strapped 3 spring-crazy kids, and 1 baby who couldn't care less as long as there is something to eat, into the van. I unloaded them all at the theater, weaved through a parking lot in a train that kept derailing at the toddler-car, didn't lose any in the lobby, successfully got the baby in free, and paid the cheapest price for the rest. I made my way to the farthest screen, herding all the Supers plus a friend in front of me like wayward sheep, while carrying an enormous backpack (filled with everything we might need, including 5 boxes of snuck-in candy), the baby, the popcorn, a drink, and all the tickets. I let them pick their seats. I let them hold the popcorn and the drink, knowing I would probably never see them again (don't worry, I ate some on the long walk down the hallway). I even handed a box of Skitties to Super Toddler. You don't get much braver than that.
Fearless is my middle name. Mom being my first. (It's a popular combination.)
You don't really get any braver than showing the internet postpartum pictures of yourself.
Fearless Awkward Mom.