Right before Brody was born, Jensen and I reflected on how difficult things were with our first baby. Bryson was four weeks early, he was missing fingers on both hands, and he had an internal malformation that required him to go immediately into NICU for an IV of sugar water. Doctors didn’t think it was safe for me to nurse him before the severity of the malformation was assessed and the issue resolved. Fun times.
Jensen and I were looking forward to an easier experience with our second child. I remember rubbing my large belly and saying to him, “I know things will be better this time…”
He didn’t even make me finish my thought. He looked me in the eyes and said, “We will have a good attitude no matter what.”
Today, Bryson has a few bizarre abnormalities, but he’s a gorgeous kid and his health is excellent. He is the brightest light in our life.
We talk to him often about attitude. Sometimes we tell him that, “Boys with good attitudes get rewards; boys with bad attitudes get consequences.” It’s a bit simplistic, but it helps get the point across.
I’ve decided I need a line or two like this to repeat to myself. Because, having a good attitude “no matter what” has been tested to my limit.
In that moment, when Jensen and I were looking forward to a less dramatic birthing experience, I sincerely believed that our faith and commitment to positivity would protect us from tragedy. Of course, it didn’t – at least not in the way we expected.
Our experience with Brody ended in the worst outcome imaginable. We would chose – in a heartbeat – to have merely repeated what we went through with Bryson.
Then, what is the point of having hope? Why look at a pile of shit and say to yourself and the world: I am still thankful for all of the beauty around me? When circumstances feel unbearable, why proclaim: I am still thankful for all of the beauty I’ve yet to see? And when your heart is broken, why decide that, no matter what: I am committed to protect the beauty within me?
Why not just look at the mess and get angry and bitter and cry? That seems fair.
I believe a good attitude raises you up beyond your problems and allows you to see solutions, opportunities, hope.
Helen Keller said, “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”
If I am going to write myself an attitude mantra, perhaps it will be: Women with good attitudes are light. Women with bad attitudes live in the dark.
I will still have days when I feel anger; some losses are infuriating. I will forever allow myself to cry when I need to; tears can be healthy. But I cannot let anger take over my heart. I cannot let crying become my only song.
A good attitude did not keep Brody from dying, but it can keep me from dying on the inside. It can save me from a failed and wasted day or year or life. And that seems worth the effort, no matter what.