Ever since I saw the remake of True Grit last weekend, I’ve been wondering about my own “grit.” I’ve been wondering what constitutes a person with grit and, maybe more importantly, what makes one’s grit “true.”
Now I do happen to love grits, particularly for breakfast, though I fell in love with shrimp and grits (not for breakfast) on my honeymoon and I’ve since made grits as a dinner side dish in various forms a few times. I only bring that up because I’m recalling, as I type, my partner’s story about the first time he, as a “yank” (my term, not his, and one that emerged in our relational vernacular when we were at the Hominy Grill in Charleston; he asked what the vinegar on the table was for and I said “That’s for your greens, you Yank.” And I would put “but I digress” here but now—thanks a lot Twitter—I’m self-conscious about it because one of my mom writer Tweeps said that no one should be allowed to use it anymore, apparently everyone else is way overusing it, but I digr…) anyway my yankee husband was asked in a southern diner many years ago if he wanted grits with his breakfast and his response was “What is a grit?” So now I can’t think of Rooster Cogburn—thanks a lot southern diner—without thinking of breakfast. Thankfully, I don’t have much cause to think of Rooster Cogburn, so not much is ruined as it turns out but anyway, grit. And whether or not it’s true.
My very very best friend, reference.com, says that grit is, well, first it says that grit is ‘particles of dirt’ so let’s skip past that and go to definition #2 where we learn that grit is synonymous with moxie, pluck, doggedness, mettle, hardihood, tenacity, and other words that we now have to look up (pluck? what the…) but the sense I’m getting here is hell yeah, grit and me (actually it’s “I” but given all those tough-ass synonyms I don’t know that we have to get all grammatical about what word goes best up against grit) are a pair, I’d say. I know that another of my mother writer Tweeps, buriedwithkids, has grit.
My evidence for this claim is that she wrote a Tweet to Daylight Savings Time. She was castigating it for making it light longer and for therefore making it harder to put kids to bed, an absolutely justified critique. But I think having grit is a personal quality worth striving for and I think I’ve got a good share of it. It’s not the drunken, slurring kind (anymore) that comes without bathing like Rooster’s but it’s no less mettle-y (what the…) for that. And I think I’ve acquired much of my grit from my mother and from my own practices of mothering (plus some from graduate school). If you don’t begin acquiring it from having to rise with an infant after a night (after night) of not sleeping, or from confronting a toddler’s rearend right after you’ve dozed lightly on the couch, turned over and slightly opening one eye because the child has said “LOOK mommy!” and you find her/his butt up in the air at one-eye level so that you could see how clean s/he got her/himself, then I’m not sure how one might acquire grit. If you don’t acquire it trying to come up with meals that satisfy multiple diets/preferences simultaneously (low-carb, vegetarian, shanty Irish, pizza-only, all-organic, southern and yank preferences, for example, OMG), then I don’t know where it might come from.
If you don’t get grit by persevering onward into work or into class, even though you know you wreak of spitup but you’d already changed three times as you were trying to walk out the door and, whatEVER, you’re LATE, and you want to be with grownups even if they don’t want to be with you with that shirt on, then I don’t know how one might get grit. If you don’t get grit from surviving the quizzicality (?) of an interaction in which you ask your child what happened with a particular grade and they translate that to mean “You want me to be PERfect!” or the other one whose answer is “I didn’t study I guess” and you say “You guess? Either you did or you didn’t. Did you?” and s/he says “I knew the material!” and you are forced to say “Um, about that. Here’s the thing: DIDN’T.” And then they actually have the pluck to be wounded that you would draw such a conclusion.
These are the experiences that cultivate grit, and it doesn’t get any truer than that.
*More about actress Hailee Steinfeld
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