When We Fail Our Children (and we will)
In my worst moments, I can’t help but think that God made a mistake. That I wasn’t supposed to be his mom. That his mom was supposed to be the lady in the grocery store that never shouts at her children. The one who seems like she has it all together. The one born with endless amounts of patience. I’m so ashamed to admit it, but I have thought all those things.
My heart ached when I read this. The familiarity of the thoughts, clouded with shame and doubt and fear, flooded me with a knowing sadness. A sweet momma left this comment on last week’s post about feeling condemned and judged.
And it is haunting me.
When my son was all of six years old, he struggled with just about everything related to school (well…except the actual learning part).
He struggled with wearing socks and shoes (at one point he wore tennis shoes 4 sizes too big so they wouldn’t touch the sides of his feet – he was teased constantly and would often trip and stumble as the shoes started to fall off as he walked). He struggled with having to hold a pencil and complete worksheets that were way too easy for him. He flinched when the bell would ring, and when they went outside for recess through hallways crowded with other children and noise and smells.
He was physically sick almost every day at lunch when he had to find a place to sit, where another child wouldn’t crowd him, as the noise level continued to increase and the smells of cafeteria food mixed with a bleach cleaning solution permeated the echoing room.
I, his mother, was completely clueless.
Not just clueless – totally frustrated. I was upset with him for being obstinate. I would yell at him when he wouldn’t get out of the car in the drop-off line, more concerned with the families waiting behind me and me getting to work on time, than what was clearly an increasingly difficult task for my son.
I Have Failed As A Mother, Often
I remember like it was yesterday, one rainy morning that we were running late. We pulled up to the curb, both he and I feeling an increasing dread, as we inched toward the drop off zone. And when it was time for him to get out, with tears in his eyes, he begged me not to go.
To my shame, I got out, physically removed him from the car, and drove away.
I looked in my rear view mirror to see him slowly walking to class, in the pouring rain, in shoes that looked like he was playing dress up, shoulders slumped and tears streaming down his face.
I can’t forget that picture of him – abandoned and alone.
It was two more years before we started homeschooling. Three years before we took him in for a professional evaluation, and finally understood the struggle that everyday life can be for my boy.
When We Fail Our Children
The comment on the blog got to me, because I completely feel it – all the way down to the bottom of my toes. When I think of that time, I struggle with questioning why I didn’t act sooner, why my priorities were so out of whack and not in line with what matters most. As I type this, I am so sick to my stomach, physically reacting to the fact that I cannot take back that morning in the rain or those years of responding with anger and fear, instead of grace and love. I am sick to my stomach because I know that there are times where anger, exhaustion, panic or fear are still my reaction when my son struggles.
And I have often thought, “I just wish he had a better mom than me.”
So many of us feel this way, special needs or not. It seems to be part of this crazy season of life we call motherhood.
The truth is, I do wish my son had a better mom than me. I want nothing but the best for him, and I know that I fail him all the time. And yet, God does not make mistakes.
We need to say it out loud – God does not make mistakes.
He made me this boy’s mother and you, yours, for a reason. There is purpose, grace and even beauty in all of this heartbreaking mess.
It matters that we can see the brokenness of our own human hearts.
It matters that we know we are not capable of really doing any of this on our own.
It matters that we still keep getting up every morning and fighting the good fight.
Because in our self-doubt, there is also a sweet reminder. In our acknowledgement that we have failed, we begin to learn to rely only on the only One who doesn’t fail.
A mom who accepts her own frailty and, no matter how long it took or what got her there, finally surrenders to a God who covers all the gaps in her flawed parenting and loves her children more than she ever can – that mom can love freely. That momma can fight through the feelings of helplessness and defeat and anger and dread, and show up for her children.
You know you can’t do it on your own.
More importantly, you know you are not alone.
And it’s beautiful.
This post originally appeared here on Not The Former Things in 2014.