I got my feelings hurt today.
A woman who knows me and my family really well, and who I know cares a great deal about us, passed judgement on me as a parent. She, kind of loudly, very plainly, and quite publicly, directly and by implication, said that some issues one of my children struggles with are a direct result of our decision to homeschool.
I feel good that I stood up for myself, and for my child, in a firm but kind manner - one that allowed our conversation to continue without apparent tension. Good for me, right? But I'm still so frustrated. I want a chance to explain some things that need explanation. I can't tell if it's because I feel defensive or because my pride is hurt or because I could use this woman's genuine understanding and support.
Am I sitting here thinking I'm a great parent, above reproach? Absolutely 100% not. My perfect parenting ended a looooong time ago. But I am constantly trying, and I get a few things right. Am I egotistical enough to think my kids are great because of how I raised them? No way. And, on the flip side, I'm not naive enough to think that all of their problems and struggles are because of something I messed up.
Some of them? Sure. I have made some big mistakes. And I am constantly aiming to improve who I am as a person, as a wife, as a mom. Growing and changing is part of life. And I've learned some big and important lessons along the way.
Part of me really wants to say some not-so-nice things. I feel so much frustration for my children who struggle with medical issues that effect their entire lives, but yet look like every other person. I feel for any person living with varied abilities, obvious or not. Because it's all hard. And it's all not fair. It has nothing to do with fairness. And sometimes it is just plain horrible. And, yeah, I know that's life. I get that life is rough. Believe me, I've lived it.
But I still can't imagine many more painful things than seeing my own child tortured from within, completely helpless to relieve their suffering, medicating them only to slightly relieve their pain, knowing their future is forever altered, praying for time, anything for more time.
And I've experienced it both ways - I have a child who was born with a birth defect, with hydrocephalus, and his life is forever different because of it. His entire life he has been the recipient of prayers and awe and support and amazement and miracles. And I have another child who struggles with a hidden illness every day of their life, but because of the nature of that illness, this child is shunned, judged, chastised, criticized, analyzed, pushed, misunderstood. (To be honest, this child has also received prayers and support, but just on a much much more limited scale - and we are deeply grateful for all of it.)
Both of these kids were born with their illnesses. Both illnesses are caused by a mixture of genes and environment and nutrition and circumstance and who knows what else. Why is it that this world thinks that one is less worthy of support than the other?
But, I think the most frustrating part is that I get it. I really do. I know myself. I know my weakness for judging others and thinking people should do this, or certainly shouldn't have done that, and if they only did things in the same surely inspired way that I do things, well, then, their kids wouldn't be the way they are.
It's so wrong! So very misguided and wrong-thinking! And I hope I just plain stop it, and remember well and clearly that we are, all of us, basically big imperfect messes, and still so very very beautiful and worth it, and every single one of us is a child of God. And if He loves us, and He does, than the very least I can do is love others.
And it's so simple. And so deeply hard.