is beautiful, messy, frustrating and full of joy. It has humbled me, brought me to my knees, had me question every thing I thought I knew or had known to be effective in dealing with other people. It has called me to surrender, be willing to stumble around and admit I am at a loss and have no clue how to do this or that. It has been the cause of many tears shed and many belly laughs given. It has also taught me what it feels like to be loved unconditionally and to have someone see me first hand make a complete idiot of myself, lose my temper and still they hug me and accept my apology and offer complete forgiveness. There has been little in life that I have experienced that will cause me to give all of who I am and cause me to battle my selfish nature and lay it all on the line like being a Mom.
There is also not another thing that I am aware of that will cause more unsolicited opinions and judgments to be offered by other moms. Being a Mom is hard. It makes me feel completely inept and keeps me searching for new ideas all.of.the.time. There is no way to do this (that I have figured out) that makes me look like I have it all under control. There is no neat way to parent. It is inevitably beautiful and joyful but OH so messy.
Not too long ago I read a comment that really stuck with me, 'best looks different in every home'. That is so true. We think what is best for us is surely the best for everyone, since it seems to work so well for us. But that is simply not true. As my husband said if someone had figured out the way to parent there would not be so many different magazines, books, tapes, cds, conferences etc; on parenting, very rarely offering the same idea/opinion on how to do it.
Tonight I had a mom stop me on a walk with my husband and children. I am not sure if she was trying to be helpful or simply wanting to point out the obvious. We were messy and loud and trying our very best to simply make it back home in one piece before a complete meltdown. These are my thoughts tonight after all of mine are tucked safely and sleepily in bed:
I have no idea what your day to day life looks like, and you honestly have no idea what my day to day life looks like. You don't know that I have a child that struggles with health issues. And yes, while I may be doing it 'all wrong' I am also doing the very best I can and operating from the stand point of how very, very much I love my children. I know what they may or may not need at that moment and try my best to meet that. Yes I fail. Yes I drop the ball. Yes sometimes I do it all wrong. But for the most part, I honestly try to give it my very best and try to contain the days that are hard so they do not bother other people.
But even if my right looks SO SO wrong to you, do you really think stopping me in the middle of the street while I am trying to help my child and explaining to me about how wrong it all is, how loud it all is, and how uncomfortable you are, do you really honestly think from one mom to another mom that is going to be the conversation I need at that moment? Because see what you do not know is that my child is special. Yes this child struggles, but this child has been through so very much over the past three years. Yes we are still learning the ropes as we go and yes we have some rough moments. Yes I know they are not easy to watch and yes I know they are loud and unusual and very messy. But we are doing the very best we can to offer each of our children a very normal life so that they can learn to deal with their limitations and struggles in a healthy and safe way. I am sorry that this makes you uncomfortable. I too may have glanced over at the situation a few years ago and rolled my eyes. I too may have been tempted to think "if that was my child she/he would not behave that way because I would..." However, I have quickly learned over the past ten years, there is nothing like walking a mile in a Mom's shoes to humble you very quickly.
This child may struggle now, but isn't that what childhood is for? To struggle and learn and make mistakes in the presence of those that are there to love them, guide them, provide for them and protect them? Maybe by having some rough days now, this child will grow up to be an amazingly well adjusted adult who is capable of giving grace and mercy to those who struggle, because they have walked that path too. Maybe that is the gift in the rough days. Either way I sincerely hope that you and your child never, ever have to face the hard days. That you can continue on your walks every night with no bumps in the road. And I am sincerely sorry that we were loud and disturbed you, your dog and your walk.
As I wrote this and thought about all that transpired I thought of an idea. Any time I see a mom out I am going to pause a moment and pray for that mom. Because more than anything I could offer her, that would be the greatest gift. And if the opportunity arises I hope that I will have the grace to speak encouraging words to that mom, to let her know she is not in the trenches alone.