She stood there with her arms crossed and I could see the lineage of generations. The creases in her forehead would disappear when she deigned to stop scrunching her face, unlike the furrows permanently etched in the granite brows of her forebears. I loved her in that moment, as in all moments, but there was something special about seeing her particular brand of insolence mirror my own so perfectly that made me appreciate both her and my parents beyond measure.
Faced with overwhelming objective facts, she instead clings willfully to her own subjective beliefs and desires. Stubbornness will push her through seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but will create hardships for her where none need exist. A genetic blessing and curse, as we are so often gifted.
I love and hate the dichotomous nature of the trait. It is a mark of both idiocy and intelligence, can be tragic or triumphant. Viewed from one vantage, it signals supreme confidence. From the other angle, nothing appears so insecure as stubbornly refusing to submit to reality simply because one was wrong the first time and is loathe to admit it.
Stubbornness being innate in my family, on both sides, I may lack the proper perspective. I tend to elevate the benefits of being stubborn over its drawbacks. After all, it carried my grandfather from rural Bohemia through the depths of Nazi hell to Brussels into the arms of an, if not equally, at least competitively stubborn woman. Together they created my father, the sweetest of men with a head so hard that he didn’t feel the need to wear a helmet when he launched himself off ski jumps from Intervale to Ishpeming.
My maternal grandmother plotted her own course, never afraid to buck conventional wisdom or speak her mind, whatever the consequences. A divorcee and professional woman before her time, her greatest triumph, at least in her eyes, was in taking General Motors to court and winning. Certainly, the people urging her against this action were legion, but there was never a risk of Tata being dissuaded. Like my father, my mother is not as acutely stubborn as were her folks, but the strain exists. Our arguments were as fierce as our love and I have yet to face a legal opponent who matches her wit and rhetorical determination.
It is little wonder that I chose as my mate a woman who has persevered through a litany of medical maladies that would have felled even a person of intense resolve. She too was heir to a stubborn mantle, her father getting into self-created scrapes and then escaping them with a valiance that should earn medals.
Together, we have forged a life of our unique design, making decisions that, for better or worse, are entirely our own. Terrified of the mundane, we select adventure over comfort, danger over safety, volatility over stability, and a life examined over one only lived.
Woven together, these threads created Violet, my remarkable, kind, hilarious, and stubborn little princess. Precocious, whip-smart, and opinionated, she carries a self-assurance that presents not as haughty, but as knowing. Tired of correcting her and then turning out to be wrong in the end, I tend to defer to her views, not because I am a pushover, but because she is so often right. And stubborn enough to wait me out. I am in trouble.