Defiance is a funny creature, isn’t it? Sometimes it shows up when it is most needed, sometimes it hides. And sometimes it shows up just to cause trouble.
My first child is 100% like her mother. I laugh about the time I was trying to get her to clean her room. I set the hamper in front of her, put my hands on my hips, and said “I don’t think you can fill that thing with dirty laundry.” And it was true, if I had told her “find the dirty laundry,” she would have said “It’s too haaaaarrrrrrrrd…” and would not have been able to fill it. But she looked at the hamper, heard my words, and said “Yes I CAN!” What would have been a day-long ordeal was accomplished in under two minutes, because I appealed to her defiance.
Sometimes when people tell me what they think I can’t do, I see it as a challenge and say “Just watch me!” It might take me a few tries or a great deal of time, but I will find a way to do what they told me I can’t do.
But other times, when someone tells me what they think I can’t do, they’ve spoken words that I have already thought myself. For me, it’s usually along the lines of domestic skill. “You’ll never get the dishes caught up…” “You’ll never keep it clean…” etc. Or it’s along the lines of health. “You’ll never lose the weight in a healthy way.” “You’ll never stick to that exercise routine.”
So what’s the difference? It’s not the person saying it, because one person can spark both defiance and defeat, depending on the topic. It’s not in how they say it. I almost that the difference was whether or not I had made the same determination before having it affirmed by another person. But on second thought, there’s another, equally simple root: Difficulty. Not whether or not something is difficult, but whether or not I expect it to be as difficult as it is.
For years, I was told “marriage is hard,” and to this day I wonder if we are doing something wrong because it’s not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I’m not saying it’s not hard sometimes, I’m saying I was expecting it to be hard, so when the hard days come, I’ve already psyched up the strength to work through it. I didn’t question the difficulty as a sign of my inadequacy, or an omen of failure. It was more a matter of, “They told me these days would come… here they are… Let’s get to the other side of it!”
Labor and delivery (three times). College, including my husband going back to school full time with two young kids at home. Job changes. Moves. I expected them to be hard, probably over-anticipated how hard would be, gritted my teeth and got through it. At a minimum, we survived, and in some cases we even thrived!
But raising kids, keeping a house, homeschooling. Either no one told me how hard these would be or I ignored them when the did, because I was NOT expecting it to be this
complicated hard. So when challenges arise like defiant or whiney children, never-ending laundry and dishes, and feeling too tired to deal with any of it, it’s easy to fold. It’s harder than I expected, therefore it must actually be impossible, therefore why try?
As I grow and learn, I’m figuring out that pretty much anything in life worthwhile is “hard.” People ask me if homeschooling is hard, and I tell them, “it’s just as hard as anything else that’s worthwhile.” Because I personally feel like getting kids out the door on time for school or daycare to maintain a job would be hard, but people do it every day. Yes, homeschooling is hard. Keeping house when everyone is in it all day is hard. Raising children into decent human beings is hard. Financial sacrifices are hard. Being exhausted all. the. time. is hard. But can I do it? Just watch me!
(p.s. so can you)