Character Building Opportunities—How to Mom It Forward During Trying Times

mehealth & fitness

Babywearing father, doing yardwork with son.

Babywearing father, doing yardwork with son.

I am going to admit something to you that my husband wishes I'd stay quiet about. I'm sharing, because I firmly believe that community makes us stronger. I also believe that holding everything inside makes us shrivel up. And, that by opening ourselves up to love, support, and kindness and perhaps even humiliation, fear, and ridicule, we find the greatest joy and strength. Why? How? Because we learn that we are all part of a very human experience and that we are not alone in this journey of life. I have found that when I've shared, I have become stronger in my convictions, gained more self esteem, and ultimately gained greater compassion, resulting in a greater ability to Mom It Forward.

What's my secret? Nothing that really should have been so secretive to begin with. Nothing that is worse than what most people go through on a daily basis. After all, there is a lot of suffering going on out there. If you read my post from last Thursday, you'll know that I am tuned in to that. That said, we all struggle in our own ways. So, what may seem insignificant to some, is very significant to others. And, because it seems that trials are custom made for each one of us, each of our struggles, however seemingly small, are large indeed... even something as small as not having a dime to your name. And, that's it my friends. I'm broke! The secret's out!

Why am I broke? Well, that would require a whole blog... not just a blog post. Suffice it to say that after my husband's second lay off in the past few years, several large medical bills, a very expensive legal suit, getting up close and personal with fraud (don't worry, we didn't defraud anyone LOL!), and a risky business venture, it's just where we've landed. Did we care about our credit score? Too much, in fact. Did we try and live within our means? Absolutely! Did we care about education and experience so we could provide for our family? We invested heavily in both. Are we victims? In some senses, yes. But, do we take accountability for where we are? Certainly! So, now what? And that is what this post is really about... the "now what!"

First-time mom playing piano with son.

First-time mom, playing piano with son.

What does this mean? To me, all this means is that we have an amazing opportunity for growth. Wow! Did that just sound sugar coated or what? For those of you who really know me, you know that I don't love sweets, so let me clarify. I don't think trying to figure out how to pay our bills is fun. I don't like looking into my living room at the blank spot where my piano used to be—the one we sold to put food on the table. The one I played every single day since the day I bought it 11 years ago. I don't like knowing the rainy day fund has dried up. I don't like filling the grocery cart only to find out we have to leave it full at the store, because it was more painful to know what was really NOT in the account than to find out at the cash register. I don't like wondering how I will meet my obligations, especially since I consider myself to be an obligation-meeting type of a gal.

But what I love—and yes, there is so much to love in times of trial I have found—is that I get the opportunity to grow. I get the chance to learn. When else would I learn to have such compassion other than when I am absolutely put to the test? What I hate more than all those things I mentioned above is the feeling that I need to focus on money—the lack thereof, where the next dime will come from, whether Troy will ever find another job—when there are so many wonderful experiences to have—so much life I will miss if I do. That said, I see that I have three choices:

  1. I can give in.
  2. I can give up.
  3. I can give back.

Does the answer to any of these questions rely on my financial status? No!

Oldest son helps with the laundry.

Oldest son helps with the laundry.

So, along with my secret, I am also going to share with you my five resolves.

  1. I resolve to live life to the fullest and enjoy the journey along the way.
  2. I resolve to do things I love even though I can't afford the things I want. If that means borrowing someone else's piano so I can make music, then hopefully I will bless them with the talent I've been blessed with.
  3. I resolve to not let this test define me. Being rich or poor isn't my character. Giving generously in whatever ways I can, financial or otherwise, is who I really am.
  4. I resolve to work toward leaving a legacy regardless of my financial status. For me, I want to change the world one mom at a time. So, I resolve to work on small and simple things every week to turn that goal into a reality.
  5. I resolve to not let money or financial worries occupy the majority of my thoughts. Does that mean that I won't plan, work hard, budget, strategize, and be creative to try and figure a way out of this mess? I certainly will do those things. But, they will have their place and that will not be a place that is higher in priority to my marriage, my family, my resolve, or my self esteem.

I recognize many of you are struggling. Some are fighting personal battles. Others are struggling with family-related issues. Many are striving to give to others and really make a difference in spite of everything else you are dealing with. And probably all of us are supporting, in one way or another, loved ones we know who are struggling as well.

The important questions to answer are:

  • Will you give in, give up, or give back?
  • What will your resolves be?
  • How will you pay attention to what truly matters when what concerns you is right in front of your face, vying for your constant attention?
  • How will you Mom It Forward in the midst of your struggles?

(Note: Pictures featured in this post are of me and my husband when we first entered parenthood 8 1/2 years ago. When I look at these pictures, I don't recall the hard times we were going through then. Instead, I relish in the joy of being blessed with a child and having the opportunity to be parents to now 2 boys. Hopefully, when I look back on pictures I take during this current situation, I will look back with similar happy thoughts. That's my goal!)

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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