Strong Enough to Bend

Today is a hard day. I could have chosen to skip this week's blog. But I am deciding to write anyway. I have always felt that I want to share the beauty and ugly of my story. While I won't share the details of our children's struggles out of their privacy, I will share mine. Cause this is my story.


One thought running through my mind today is the constant weight of flexibility. Parenting kids from hard places requires us to be "on" most of the time. We are watching for triggers, we are strategizing our next steps. We are evaluating what is working and what isn't. Because when we stop, when we get tired, when we get too comfortable and forget... something bad happens. We lose our temper, we act unfairly, we overreact, or worse, we become cold.


The other day I was watching Ozark. Do you watch that show? It's not for everyone. It's pretty dark. Laura Linney does an amazing job playing the mom, Wendy Byrd and in one episode, freaks out on a poor grocery store stock boy. You see she had called ahead to confirm they had a particular flavour of ice cream before she drove there. But then when she arrived, it in fact wasn't there. So she asks the boy to help her and he admits they made a mistake on the phone it actually is not in stock after all. She loses it! She goes full on crazy yelling at him about this mistake.

Wendy:  I was told, over the phone, that you had organic pistachio ice cream.
Alex:  Okay.
Wendy:  So now that I'm here, all-all I see is mint.  Please tell me you have some in the back.
Alex:  Um, no, ma'am.  We don't.
Wendy:  What do What do you mean, no? No?!                            Alex:  Um... I'm sorry, you made a mistake.
Wendy:  I drove an hour and a half to come to this particular supermarket because one of your employees told me that you had pistachio ice cream! Alex:  Yes, ma'am, I understand                                      Wendy:  No, I don't think you do! I mean, is is mint the same as pistachio?!                                                           Alex: No, ma'am.
Wendy: Huh? Is it?! Is it?!

I could totally relate to her. There are times when I am working so hard in our home to manage the chaos of the behaviors & expectations, those of our kids as well as the agency staff, the school staff, the legal staff, our extended family, the list goes on. I'm working so hard to manage it all, that I find myself freaking out on the poor kid at the grocery story or God help the poor guy who works for the internet company.


But one thing I know to be true, is that when I take care of myself, I am strong enough to bend. You see, it isn't the weak people that are able to be flexible. Look at a yoga class, are those folks weak? Look at a skilled craftsman bending a piece of metal, does he pick the one with the weakest link? Look at the hull of a boat with the wood bent and shaped to protect those on board, is it weak? In order to be a flexible parent, we must be strong. Strong enough to bend.


A wise parent is one that is able to sense the needs of their child in the moment, to weather the storm, and to discern what is the best strategy for this particular season. It might not be something you read in a book or heard at a conference. It might not be what your friends and family are telling you to do. It might not be popular on social media. But when you are strong enough to bend, you will feel it in your soul. You will know this is what is right for my tribe, today. We may bend in a different direction next season, but this is us, right now.


Remember bending is waving. This isn't about just waving in the wind and jumping on whatever you feel in the moment. This is about a chosen movement. A planned out direction. Bending is sometimes painful and stressful and requires heat and tension. But it is thoughtful, and when done well, results in beauty.


Last weekend Roy and I were at a craft show. It's a tradition for us. Every year we walk through the aisles, look for friends and check out the creations. This year we were commenting on how a lot of the booths were looking the same, and nothing was really catching our attention. I picked up a couple stocking stuffers for our girls, some handmade soaps in their favourite colours. But not much. And then, I noticed something different. Instantly, I was struck by this dark red, bent metal garden ornament. At first glance, it's just a lantern holder. But after talking with the creator I learned how they work with a strong piece of metal and bend it and shape it and cut it so that it becomes a piece of art, that can hold light for all around. This beautiful piece was molded and shaped and strong enough to bend. I took it home. It is now on my patio, I can look at it every day outside my window. It's glittery paint shimmers in the sunshine and it's lantern shines brightly through the darkness. It is a constant reminder for me to be strong enough to bend.


Today you may be needing to bend.

The children in your home today need to to see the story behind their behaviors.

They need you to try something different.

They need you to recognize that what you are doing isn't working.

Today you may be needing to bend.

Are you strong enough?

Can you weather the heat and pain of each step?

You are not alone. Today is hard for me too.


- Trish

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© 2018 by Trish Jonker

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