The most challenging part of motherhood to date is watching my child struggle. I am not referring to minor frustrations and difficulties, but challenges that permeate all areas of life. For our family, the struggle includes a long list of mental health challenges that cause issues at school and home. We lived on a roller coaster for 7 years. The ride slowed down 2 years ago and the struggles are more manageable. During the ups and downs of our journey, I rarely felt seen for the reality of our situation. I felt judged and misunderstood. For all the moms out there on the roller coaster ride – I see you.
Feeling Less than Enough
As my daughter struggled, I wrestled with an overwhelming feeling of less than enough. How could I ever be equipped with the right tools to help her find center? I read everything that I could get my hands on. We consulted doctors, psychologists, teachers, principals, special ed coordinators. I filled my brain with information searching for the magic tools to help her find balance. As I did EVERYTHING in my power to find balance, everything continued to spiral out of control. As the spiral continued, all my thoughts landed in the same place – I am not enough for this child.
Feeling Judged at Every Turn
Everywhere you turn someone has an opinion. I am not talking about the random stranger in the grocery store giving you the evil eye as your child melts down. No those people are easier to ignore(though still difficult). It is the well-meaning, loving friends and family members who are only trying to help that feel like judgement. The comments saying: my child does that. It’s totally normal; All you need to do is impose stricter limits; If you are consistent that will just go away; you are being too lenient, kids need discipline.
All these things are true. Kids need boundaries and correction so they can learn. The difference is the lense at which you judge the situation. You cannot judge a struggling child through a neuro-typical filter. The playing field is so much different. The methods you use to parent are so much different. While they may look permissive to the outside world, I see all the work you are putting into raising this child. I see the careful words and the perfect timing.
Fighting the Guilt
Even with all the resources and information, parenting a struggling child is HARD. There are days when patience runs thin and frustrations run high. Some days, parental emotions run just as high as our struggling children. No person is perfect and I “lost it” on many occasions. In those moments the gentle, patient words turn into yelling and screaming. After which the guilt sets in and there are tears and apologies. When everything is once again calm and settled, there are more tears. Guilt over being less than perfect, when no human being is perfect; which leads back to an overwhelming feeling of “I am not enough”.
The Truth – You are Perfectly Chosen
Do not listen to the lie. You are perfectly chosen to be this child’s mom. God does not make mistakes! You are the perfect person to follow this road to the end of the journey. In no way does that mean you are PERFECT. God does not expect perfection. He expects LOVE. Love your child fiercely. Ride the roller coaster to its completion. Know in your heart that you are doing everything in your power to help your child find balance and success in this big crazy world. Never give up. Advocate for what you see as best for your child. What is best may not be easy. It may not even be the solution for which you intensely prayed. Keep following the path and know you are perfectly chosen to be your child’s mom.
As you muddle through the next meltdown -I see you and know you are doing the best you can. When the phone rings and your heart sinks seeing the school’s number – I see you take the next step. On the days your eyes fill with tears and guilt overtakes your heart – I see you and you are more than enough. Struggle on with your child and know that you are seen for the immense LOVE you put out into the world.
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