feelings, thoughts, and this big beautiful mess

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.  


Martie said...

You're right.It IS hard.

I love you!

Martie said...

"You parents and you families whose lives must be reordered because of a handicapped one, whose resources and time must be devoted to them, are special heroes. You are manifesting the works of God with every thought, with every gesture of tenderness and care you extend to the handicapped loved one. Never mind the tears nor the hours of regret and discouragement; never mind the times when you feel you cannot stand another day of what is required. You are living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in exceptional purity. And you perfect yourselves in the process."
-Elder Boyd K Packer

Peg Lewis said...

This is so hard. I was sitting in a group of moms of little kids and some of medium kids, discussing a book. In that context I had occasion to describe what we all thought life was like: grow up, get married, have great kids, get along well in school, have a few minor bumps, etc etc. Everyone agreed that's what they expected and pretty much that was how it was. And then you could see a little doubt creep in, I assume from some imperfection on their part or a child's part. These moms are just starting out and it's going pretty well, mostly. And they believe that's what life is, mostly, with the bigger challenges only for others, mostly. And then we realized, it never was true. There's nothing WRONG about our circumstances even when we have big challenges, what is wrong is the myth of how things are supposed to be. Instead things are as they are and the whole game is how we deal with them. There are no deviations from the norm because there's no standard way of things. Finger-pointing is a failure of compassion, of not having been sufficiently aware because of not being leveled - yet. Time will do that. The victories are then ones of compassion, love, charity, service, and patience.

We are living in a time when great ignorance rules, most particularly the ignorance of the power of the individual, the resilience of the soul: it can't easily be tainted by a word or a circumstance. Forget psychology! People's 'problems' are due to variations within their makeup, not corruption by a loving parent or even grievous trauma, mostly.

We all do the best we can at a given moment. To choose to fail is rare, to choose to cause harm is evil. If someone appears not to be perfect, it's because she isn't. But I'll bet she is doing her best, HER best even if not YOUR best. This is why judging is not ours to indulge in, by divine decree. Let's not let it taint our sphere - that would be choosing the worse path. Let judgment give way to compassion, to the edification of everyone. Because we're going to need it.

Sarah said...

I love your blog! As someone with a mental health diagnosis I could relate when you said that one of your children gets a more support for their disability than the other. I don't know what the other child has, but I can share from personal experience that the first time I went to the mental hospital, I got a couple cards, the second and subsequent times, people felt that giving me their support meant telling me that I was giving up by going to the hospital and that all I really needed to do was try harder. When really my hard trying included making the proactive step to get help with my illness by going to the hospital. ;)

There are just some illnesses that people don't think deserve a casserole--although I can't even begin to tell you how much I would have appreciated one. ;)