This blog is not for the light-hearted or easily offended. If either one of those descriptions applies to you, i would suggest you start drinking before you read this blog. A sense of humor is suggested. If you don't have one that sucks for you … find one and get a life!

In which i discuss personal strength


How did you get to be so strong? How did you get so capable? I get asked these types of questions all the time and I rarely think about them. But today I did. My son was bugging me about pancakes, or the lack thereof, in the house for breakfast and it made me think of how my mom would have reacted to this whining. It wouldn’t have been pretty, I can tell you that. My parents’ methods of child-rearing were completely different than my own, for better or worse. They were all about being independent, self-sufficient and handling your own shit. At any rate, roaming down the random thoughts highway I remembered this question and today, I’m going to give an answer.

About 14 years ago, my mother inconveniently died. I say inconvenient, because it wasn’t actually my idea and I had plenty of questions that I had neglected to have her answer so I’m stuck wondering what my mom thought of everything related to her kids and their lives while growing up. Actually, she was an English teacher and just the previous run-on sentence was probably enough to kill her. At any rate, she died. And within two years my dad died too. Just to add to the greater joy in my life, in the midst of those two deaths, my son was kicked out of pre-school and then diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.

I was floored – shocked actually – that all the idiosyncrasies that were my child weren’t “normal”. I wanted to cry on my mom’s shoulder and rail against the world but she wasn’t around. My dad wasn’t either so that only left Kevin, my husband, but when I turned to him he was crying too. So what do you do? When everything around you is falling apart and there’s nobody left to lean on, what do you do? YOU BECOME THE STRONG ONE. There’s no choice. You’re there, with three kids, a husband and a pretty difficult situation. Someone has to be Atlas and in this situation, that someone was me. So you pick up your burdens and you CARRY ON. It’s not that my husband wasn’t on board the situation, he was, but he already had a job to do and that job didn’t allow a lot of extra time for treatments, research and intervention ideas.

It’s always amazed me that people view that as incredible. I mean, what other options did I have? Things needed to be done. Life needed to go on. Methodologies needed to be researched. We had a MAJOR problem to deal with and someone (that someone being me) was going to have to step up to the plate. I’ve always been amazed that people ever think there’s a choice. There’s not. You just do what you have to do.

Over time, the more often you step up to the plate, the less scary the plate becomes. It’s that mentality that has enabled me to deal with my many family crises, as well as many situations that my friends have found themselves in. Calmness in the face of the storm is a trait that is very beneficial to have. And that trait can be honed, sometimes not by choice, but by necessity.

When I was growing up my older brother was hit by a car. It was a terrible accident, and while I won’t go into details, he ended up blind in one eye with a surgically reconstructed nose and years upon years of craniofacial surgery. He was 10 and I was 7 when it happened. It was a traumatic even that shaped my childhood and the ripple effects have never ended. I once asked my mom how she dealt with such a situation as well as two other small children at home. Her reply was “you deal with the situation you’ve been given. You can’t just drop everything for the one child who needs you because then you create situations for the other two children who are left behind. You need to find balance and it’s not easy. You just do what you have to do.”

So the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, don’t think of it as a burden. Think of it as a way to spread your wings, show yourself that you too can be a pillar of strength. Believe me, it will change your outlook on the world.

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  1. Nicki
    November 9, 2010

    You had an incredible life, for better or worse! I can read here how strong you are! You speak of not having a choice and I have to disagree. I believe that life is full of choices. You have clearly made choices, evident in this statement. "Think of it as a way to spread your wings, show yourself that you too can be a pillar of strength. Believe me, it will change your outlook on the world." I admire the choices you have made!!! More people need to realize that they may not be in charge of everything but they do have control over how they handle the situations they are given!

  2. Carla E. Knight
    November 9, 2010

    Nikki, I think by inferring she had no choice, she was actually saying there was not other ACCEPTABLE option. Yes, there are other choices, but only choosing to deal with situation and move on is acceptable. I know, I've been there many times.

  3. Peggy Sue Brister
    November 9, 2010

    I know this was not the point of your post, but what exactly does a kid have to do to get kicked out of pre-school?

  4. Lynn MacDonald
    November 9, 2010

    It's not easy to get kicked out of pre-school but apparently, beating the crap out of the other 4 year olds is frowned upon. I KNOW. I didn't see what the big deal was either!

  5. kris
    November 9, 2010

    That's what life is about, though . . . isn't it?

    Stepping up to the plate when it's your turn to bat.

    Everybody gets dealt some crappy cards, and the people who think you are unusually strong?

    Have perhaps not gotten their share of crappy cards yet.

    Once those cards are dealt, there's not much to do but play the hand.

    And step up to the plate.

    And swing.

    Hee hee!

    And totally mix your metaphors.

    I find the mixing of metaphors to be totally helpful.


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    November 10, 2010

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  7. Jeanine
    November 12, 2010

    Great post. You did have options. You could have fallen apart , but that is not the choice you made. Kudos! I've been reading an old 1902 ladies home journal and it used to be called a nervous breakdown and women could go to a sanitarium for a while to be "mothered" themselves. Instead we all have turned to xanax and prozac lol when really sometimes we could be cured with some good old fashioned mothering. Its hard once they are gone. Thank goodness I got most of my questions answered before my mom died, but even so, sometimes the questions still pop up. Come visit me at although i havent blogged much this week due to the flu ;! Jeanine

  8. Jennifer Windsor
    November 13, 2010

    Thanks for commenting on my blog and showing me yours, I just love the way you write. My oldest son has been diagnosed with aspergers as well and yes a mother just deals with what comes and tries to make the best of it

  9. MarjnHomer
    November 22, 2010

    that is a great post and thanks for sharing. in islam we believe that allah(god) gives us what we can handle and as much as we can bear. so HE is showing you how strong you are when you probably didnt even realize it. found you thru MBC

  10. Jenn
    December 8, 2010

    You totally have it right- if you want to survive, you have to step up to the plate and get right into the middle of it – "it" being life, of course! It is exhausting, but it is not fruitless. Take those sweet gem-like moments and hide them in your heart for getting through the rough patches. :)

    Great post

  11. Maegan E
    January 22, 2011

    Thanks for the great post! You are so right in every way! It scares me that you never know if what you are doing at the time to deal with it all is going to be all ok in the end. Chalk it up to being one of Life’s Mysteries….

    • Lynn
      January 22, 2011

      Yeah…you just have to let that go and roll with the punches…or at least, in my opinion.

  12. Leighann
    March 20, 2011

    To you and I it sounds silly to ask “how did you stay so strong?” but looking around at our society it’s evident that many give up.
    You are an inspiration and simply wonderful.

    • Lynn
      March 20, 2011

      Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment and I’m glad you’re enjoying my writing!

  13. Queen Mahin
    March 21, 2011

    Hi Lynn, Still catching up on your old posts. This was a sweet one. Thanks for sharing. In life we end up doing what we have to do.

    • Lynn
      March 21, 2011

      Yep…there’s no choice so i hardly see it as remarkable

  14. Sandra
    May 15, 2011

    I think your mother taught you well. You’re brilliant and brave, as was she.
    Beautiful post!

    • Lynn
      May 15, 2011

      Thanks I appreciate that. My mom was awesome and soooo much smarter than I am!

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