This is tough to admit but I used to question why God gave me these particular kids. There were days I didn’t think I could do it because with them came challenges that threatened me on every level. They were so different than I imagined them to be and I have been forced to adjust every single day. Looking back now, I get it completely. The intention was never for me to grow them but rather for them to grow and transform the parts of me that had remained underdeveloped.
My son turned 16 yesterday. As I went to bed I apologized to God for ever questioning his knowledge. I was grateful for the tolerance I was forced to learn from having my son. Today I got a call from my husband asking if I could bring Chases contacts to the driving school or they wouldn’t allow him to take his drivers test. I admit at first I was furious, but as he gave me a big smile after his test I chuckled to myself and repeated the word tolerance. Those kids stretch me to be my greatest self and although I am often frustrated by the painful lessons, I am always grateful that out of all the kids in the world, I am blessed enough to be their mom.
I get it. Time keeps ticking. We are forced to keep moving with the motion of the clock.. There is a small part of me though that wishes I could go back. A part of me that wants a second chance to pay more attention so the memories are clearer and crisper in my mind. I was looking at a picture of my son from four years ago. He looks so small and naive at 11 years old. He was still my baby then and I felt like I had the power to protect him. He turns 15 tomorrow and the physical changes between then and now are astonishing. I can only wonder how many changes have occurred internally. The world changes as we get older. At least our perception of it does. Our openness slowly narrows, our faith gets tangled. Our beliefs change and get challenged with the passing of each new day. Four years ago he was a different boy. I was different back then too. Change is inevitable and necessary but once in awhile I long for the simplicity of years ago. I miss the days when we would throw the sleeping bags and pillows on the floor and make a mess with popcorn as we argued over which movie to watch. I miss the days I didn’t know I couldn’t hold onto my kids forever and I was too caught up to ever think there would come a time those days of camping out on the floor would come to an end. As I sit here today, I realize more than ever how little control I have over anything. All I can do is hope that the good moments slow down long enough to imprint the permanence of this memory of him in my mind. I know I can’t physically go back but as long as I have the memories I can linger there from time to time. It seems like yesterday, I was bringing him home from the hospital on that rainy day. How did fifteen years pass by so fast? It seems like a blur. He’s desperately trying to grow up too fast and I’m desperately trying to hold onto my little boy. Happy birthday Chase. Slow down just a little because I’m having a tough time keeping up. Time waits for no-one. Ready or not, here it comes.
Mad doesn’t even come close to what I was feeling tonight. I was trapped in the car while my husband was in Home Depot, stuck with the feelings that were burning me up inside. I had this incredible urge to rip open my skin and step out of myself so I could escape the rage that was building inside of me. I am feeling tired and worn from my son pushing me past my limit to be a decent human being. His lack of concern for anything leaves me completely concerned about everything and by the time Sunday evening rolls around, I have reached the end.
We picked him up from church a few hours later and he got in the car like nothing ever happened. He leaned into the front seat, “Hi.” Just the sound of his voice made my heart race. I wanted to continue the argument we were having before I dropped him off. I sinking into the depths of hell and my instinct was to grab his arm and drag him through with me. I took a deep breath. “Let it go Kim.” All my life I had heard the phrase misery loves company and I was fighting the urge to invite him over. Would rehashing the unhashable do any good? A tear rolled down my face. Sometimes the desperation I feel as a parent weighs on me heavily. How do I reach him?That tiny voice in my head whispered quietly, speak softly and maybe he will listen. Yes, soften. Start with your voice and your words and heart will follow. Sometimes I just have to sit long enough with my feelings until the intensity comes down. Acting on feelings that are inflated beyond containment is unhealthy for everyone involved.
Tonight I pray, not that God changes my situation but that he changes my perception of it. I pray for the strength and courage to continue to reach out to my son regardless of how many times he pushes me away. I pray that I never give up on him even when the hurt gets hard. I pray for a way to quiet the anger that sometimes builds a wall between myself and the people I love. Tomorrow will be a better day. Tomorrow offers hope to try again.
There are days I get so angry that I don’t see in myself what I so readily see in others. I preach about building others up and at the same time I fail with my own child. How often do I tell him what he gets wrong? How often do I bring up a conversation about something that has resulted in his failure? How many times can a kid hear, you are a screw up and you can’t do anything right? How many times can you beat a kid down before he just stops trying to get back up? How many times can you say your best is never good enough? Is this the only voice he ever hears? Could it be? Here is a perfect example in this email that I received yesterday from his teacher.
On Quiz #3 Chase didn’t include the reasoning and evidence part of the explanation. He touched on one of the three but did not explain why those results occurred due to molecular level interactions (which is the standard). On the second question he did a great job at explaining why water had a stronger surface tension than ethanol however that is not what the question asked; the question was about why ethanol had a weaker surface tension than water.
The result? A 45. Call me crazy but isn’t explaining why water has a stronger surface tension than ethanol the same as explaining why ethanol has weaker surface tension than water?
Am I like this teacher too rigid and closed off to see his right in this so called wrong? Am I more focused on proving myself right than allowing him the opportunity to be right?
So many questions. So much guilt. So much struggle with trying to be a decent parent. Maybe I am too hard. Maybe the teacher is too hard. Maybe the world is becoming hard. Maybe parenting is too hard.
Lord, help me to remember how important my voice is and to use that voice to make my child feel good about himself. Help me see more opportunities to commend him and hold my tongue when I have the urge to criticize. Please help me make him feel more like an A instead of a failing grade. Take my hand and guide me in raising this child and elevating his self esteem. I know I cannot do this alone.
I went for my usual two mile walk around the track this afternoon. As I watched the children play on the gym floor, I noticed a theme I couldn’t ignore. One little boy was pointing his finger at another boys face while talking at him. His voice was loud and he snapped his head in unison with every word. There was a little girl hanging on the YMCA worker and hitting him in the head with what looked like a stick. Another little girl was dragging her friend around by the arm forcing her to do what she wanted to do. Those innocent kids are modeling the same behavior I see each and everyday. My heart hurt as I faced the reality of what we have become. The anger, the forcefulness, the tone, the volume and body language could be summed up in one single word. Aggressiveness. I used to think people were like cream puffs. They looked good on the outside but the sweetness, the elegance, the depth was on the inside. It was amazing to get to know someone and discover the beauty that was hidden inside. I don’t have any desire for cream puffs anymore. After so many sour ones, my willingness to take a chance on another has faded with every angry word, the constant resistance to be civil toward one another and refusal to respect anyone who thinks different than we do. It’s a silly analogy but it makes the point. We have to be softer and allow our gentleness a chance to have a voice. We have to speak quietly so people will lean in closer to hear what we have to say. We have to be sweeter and less violent in our tone and words with one another. The evidence was right there in those small children and my heart hurt as I realized what poor role models we have been. They deserve better. We all do. I vow to be the change.
I cannot remember the last time I’ve been this touched. Please, if you need hope and inspiration read this until the end. The video I have attached is from a rivalry basketball game that took place Friday night. I am proud and my heart is grateful that this is the high school my kids attend. This moment, this memory is one that I hope stays with them forever. Watch as Lainy is given the opportunity to make the last shot of the game. Watch how the students react. There is hope and this is what it looks like. Spread the beauty you find in the world. We desperately need it.
I waited with a heavy heart for my daughter to come home. I kept seeing the image of her face as she drove away. It’s not easy being a mom sometimes. When your child hurts, the pain for a parent is excruciating. This is her senior year. Naturally I want it to be special but there will always be some bumps and bruises along the way. The last words I spoke to her echoed in my mind. Try and have a good time. Find new people who feel like your people. They are out there, just look.
For those of you who did not read my first post, Pride or Love, the dilemma was whether or not she should get on the senior party bus for the semi- formal dance. There would be many kids on that bus who made her contemplate whether she should get on it or not. They are kids who behave in a way she doesn’t support but it was the senior party bus and everyone wanted to be on it. The problem was, everyone was not really given the opportunity. Through bullying or mocking of just plain “meanness”, some kids would not be permitted to step foot on the popular bus.
Hours later she arrived home looking very relaxed. She took control of her own destiny and ultimately her own happiness. She gave up her seat on the party bus and she stayed at the dance. Whether she knows it not, she made an important choice last night that I hope will be the first of many to come. She did what was right for her own soul. Popularity, being part of the big, popular crowd was not worth sacrificing her own self worth. She is more like her mom than I ever imagined and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s easy to step on the party bus. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd. What isn’t easy is standing on that curb alone while the bus pulls away. She is enough without the crowd, looking more beautiful than ever as she waves goodbye and the bus pulls out of sight.
So I watched the video of the teens in Chicago torturing a special needs man. I have no words to describe what I felt as I watched the video play out. I was thinking, how in the world could someone be this cruel? To cut and hit and humiliate someone and at the same time have the audacity and fearlessness to post it as a live feed? As a mother of teens myself, it bewilders me how anyone could find something like this funny. Why do people think they can behave any way they want and get away with it? Do they really lack the brain cells to realize the seriousness of a situation like this one? All I can say is if I was the parent of one of these kids, I would send them away to those special schools that strip kids from every single thing and make them earn it back. A school that teaches humility and discipline, integrity and consequences. I am truly ashamed of the way people behave today. The hostility and lack of compassion in some people’s words and actions are enough to make my heart feel sick. Such cruelty in these times we are living in. When did people become so cold and mean? Not my world, not my people. We are so much better than this.
In a world where the negative seems to be winning out, I offer this story of hope. My daughter is 17 years old. Every night her friend group debates a topic in a closed group. They are very diverse in their thinking and each of them has very strong opinions. She allowed me to sit in on their group. I was absolutely amazed at how respectful these kids were toward one another. They were allowed a safe place to express their beliefs without being bullied or ridiculed. Tomorrow I am hosting their “Squidsgiving”. They call themselves group squid and tomorrow, although they are very different, they will sit at the table to share a nice dinner and break bread together. I could not be more proud or grateful that these are the kids my daughter shares her deepest thoughts and most special moments with. They are an example to all of us. They are the hope we so desperately need.
Teenagers. Need I say more. The first day I held my my babies in my arms I knew my life would never be the same. Here were these perfect packages of love all bundled up and counting on me to keep them safe. I didn’t know much about parenting then. I knew I had to muddle my way through until I finally figured out a plan. Certainly I would figure this mom thing out because like it or not, these tiny babies didn’t come with instructions. There was no transitional period. A baby was born and I became mom.There were no guidelines or anyone to tell me a sure fire plan to raise a happy, healthy, super kid. Sure there were people who offered suggestions that followed a hint of the theme I was doing something wrong. These days I feel everything I do is wrong. Sometimes I say things that later near drown me with pain and regret. Some days I’m so distracted that I forget to listen. Some days my cape falls off and I’m reminded I am only human. I right every wrong or fix everything that is broken. I can’t be who everyone needs me to be or pretend I’m someone who I’m just not. Sometimes my mom is broken. It can’t be fixed with a bandaid or a trip to the spa. Sometimes I need a good cry or a long walk or some space to breath without feeling the need to apologize for my own needs. Sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s okay not to be perfect and that each day is a new day to wake up and try again. So how do I parent when my mom is broken? The best way I can and somehow I have to make peace with myself that somehow that will be enough.