Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking for strength

Thursday, as Cora and I walked from the garage to the house, she said to me, "You know, Mommy, just because a person doesn't do karate doesn't mean that person isn't strong."

Inside the house she showed me the karate moves she learned at school. Clearly, someone at school is taking karate and there has been much discussion and debate about these lessons. Cora is still more interested in getting into gymnastics lessons and swimming lessons, which also require you to be strong and to practice, but it has been interesting over the last couple days to see this fascination with martial arts.

A few days ago she wore all pink to school - pink leggings, pink socks, pink shoes, pink long-sleeved shirt - and declared herself the Pink Ninja. We talked about her cousins and aunt and uncle who all take tae kwon do. We talked about how her uncle is getting close to being a black belt, and how it takes a lot of work and practice to be really good at something. I suspect there is no pink belt, but don't tell Cora. Last night we all watched Kung Fu Panda for family movie night. She asked me to search for ninja videos on YouTube this morning, and we found some pretty amazing stuff. We emailed her favorite one to her uncle.

And then Cora wanted me to take her picture doing her best ninja move.

The pink ninja strikes with a smile.

We talk about the ways you can be strong - in your muscles, in your heart, in your brain. She consistently blows me away with the strength of her will and her emotions. And with how she already knows that it can be hard to be strong, to have strength, fortitude, endurance, tenacity. It strikes me that those are all words that also take some time to say. Even though "strength" is a single syllable, it moves your mouth around.

Yesterday on the phone a friend mentioned that she has always envied my strength, my ability to deal with the challenges of the past couple years, and that she has found it useful to see how I do that. But she also said that seeing me at times when the challenges nearly overwhelmed me has been useful, too, to see how strength can be overwhelmed and how it can rally.

I found this comforting and surprising. I have not felt particularly strong of late. I have not felt particularly adept at dealing with challenges. I have been slow to rally on many fronts. But, when I think about it, I can see where my strength has gone to, which fronts it has been fighting on, and that it is still there, after all. Just not where I am used to seeing it. And here is something a good friend can do for you: remind you of who you are, even when it might look a little different.

I don't take karate, but I am still strong.

1 comment:

lisa said...

thank you, Cora, for speaking truth. such a solid reminder!

ps - Cora rules.
pps - so do you.