Any facade I was holding onto about being an excellent parent continue to be pulled away these past few weeks. Perhaps it’s just me but in my experience with a uniquely challenging child that often eclipses the needs of the rest of the family, the long haul of it can be daunting. I think that because we’ve seen great strides and wonderful improvement in our son’s life and coping skills, I began to feel like we were moving on. Along with that, I let myself forget some of the tools that were built into our life and slacked a bit on the things that I know help him. Without thinking about it a bit, on some level I thought we were all good.
After the dismal failure of swimming lessons and several other choicely located fits of a completely overwhelmed, overdone child – I remembered. And it hurt. I remembered how he is wired and why his brain makes life difficult for him. I am so aware that so many parents have much greater challenges than I with their children. I am so grateful that we’ve received all the support and tools and help we have.
But my heart just ached to be able to make life work better for our son. To help him feel like all of life was not too much for him. And I can’t do it. Makes me cry just to type the words.
This is one of the hardest absolutes of parenting.
My son’s life is just that. His. I’m not writing his story. God is. All his current struggles and the far greater struggles that await him will shape the core of who he becomes. I may be a key character in the story and goodness knows I want to be a great one. But the reality is I will fail him more times than I can count. I will weep beside his bed as he sleeps and pray for God to cover over the times I get it wrong.
The only way I can face tomorrow is in clinging to a truth that I believe with all my heart: the way my children turn out is not up to me. God holds their life, their future, their whole being in His able hands.
Pondering all of these things, I just remembered that I never did a book review for a book that really spoke to me and is worth sharing. Written by Leslie Leyland-Fields, the book is entitled “Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 other Myths that Trap us in Worry and Guilt”. Yes, I know very long title for a book. But the heart of the book held truths that I really needed to hear. More than any is that parenting isn’t actually my highest calling, even though we often here this is church settings. Loving and pursuing God above all else is actually the ‘parenting model’ that will transform not only my life but the lives of my children.
The other profound piece that I took away was the myth that “Good parenting leads to happy children”. This was something I knew at some level but upon digging deeper left me feeling so hope filled and so freed. Heart-level discipline and strong leadership may not lend themselves to happy children all the time. Happiness isn’t actually what I’m aiming for. If I did a quick inventory it’s the least happy times that often have shaped my life, for the better.
So though happy may not describe my son and it may not perfectly describe me at the moment, that is truly okay. He will learn to overcome. It is part of his unique and epic story. I too am learning and will continue learning not just to survive what is hard but to overcome and relish the journey, even when it hurts.