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Overcoming Obstacles, Rejection Recovery and Living and Learning Through it All

There is just no way to sugarcoat this one. It stinks. Any time your child goes through rejection, disappointment or coming in forth place -- when they wanted first – it is heart wrenching.

I distinctly remember a situation with Number 1. We had recently moved to a new state, and she was about 5 years old. My husband, Number 1 and I stood in the garage as the older kids, maybe 10 or 11 years old, played basketball across the street. Number 1 ran over to play, and the kids basically ignored her. My husband and I had tears in our eyes as she ran back to our garage. We reached out our hands to embrace her, but she ran right past us, grabbed her own basketball and then ran back to play. The kids still ignored her, but dribbled around her and did not tell her to go home.

Ahhhh….the days of young confidence when determination makes one oblivious to the behavior of others.

Over the years, Number 1 and siblings 2 through 4 have experienced situations from friend challenges and not getting parts in plays to teacher, coach adult challenges and getting dumped last minute before a dance. These things happen. We cannot shield kids from disappointment, and at times it becomes personal to the parent, because we know how it feels.

Even though we have been through it and survived, no amount of words comfort a person in the moment. It takes time to heal and resilience to move forward.

As a parent it can be a fine line to walk – providing empathy and encouragement at the same time, especially when we have to keep our own emotions in check. Number 2 did not get the role she wanted or thought she should get in the school play. I remember going through the same experience my senior year in high school; and even though that was decades ago, the feelings rushed back to me. As my daughter spoke I had this visceral reaction of hurt and had to decipher her pain from my own – as a teenager then, and as a mom now.

There are so many stories of people who faced obstacles and overcame them:

  • Walt Disney was fired from the newspaper because his editor thought he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

  • Oprah Winfrey was publicly fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore for getting "too emotionally invested in her stories."

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times.

  • After Harrison Ford's first small movie role, an executive took him into his office and told him he'd never succeed in the movie business. (Source: Business Insider)

I have shared each of these stories with my children, but in the heat of the moment, it did not matter. They wanted empathy, not a fix. They wanted unconditional love and not the bright side, at least for the first 15 minutes after the news.

That is something I have learned over time. There is a time and a place for everything and every phase of grief, sorrow and loss. Now, when the kids call or are upset, I work hard at acknowledging feelings before I move ahead to share stories of inspiration. It is a learned skill for me, as I am a trained problem solver and naturally go for the fix.

From a place of faith, I know God has a master plan. From a place of resilience, I know this moment too shall pass. From a place of experience, I know this will be a learning moment. From a place as a working professional, I know learning to work through disappointment will only make you stronger.

From a place of Mom, that is a tougher one for me. It is part of life, and it still stinks.

On the bright side, however, those lessons also stick. I recently faced some disappointment and Number 1 called me to say, “Mom, did you know Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers?”

In that spirit, “ O the things you will think, oh the places you will go. We will all have our time to be in our prime…now back at it I go.”

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