Last week was a tad on the brutal side for me.
You see, I had dedicatedly laid the ground work to rock my Mom of the Year title by volunteering to help with not one but BOTH of my kids’ class parties. Yup, silly things like work assignments, laundry piles, and Mommy’s sanity be darned! I was going to be there, it was going to be shiny perfect and we were going to celebrate Halloween like nobody’s business.
The sad news is my happy plans fell to crap. Crap in the form that both of the aforementioned parties ended horribly. In tears. My children’s tears to be exact. My daughter’s meltdown centered around some passionate 4 year old personal space issues, while my son’s delicate tether to appropriate behavior was lost to overstimulation and defeat in a BINGO game. Brutal scenes, like I said.
So how did I, in my infinite lack of wisdom, handle it? Endless calls to husband at work, panicked development of Pinterest-sanctioned reward/consequence behavioral systems, and of course, a friendly glass or two of wine. Oh, and prayers, lots of them, because the defeat I felt was poignant, and ultimately turning elsewhere felt horridly empty.
The thing was, I was sad. My heart was hurting. Badly.
I looked at, I watched, I saw the other children in the classrooms. The ones who were happy to just be there. The ones who giggled and laughed sans shedding a single tear. The ones who were too consumed with glee over Halloween treats and games to throw a scene. The ones who were normal.
Where did I go wrong? I am so far from ideal, but my children have a relatively good home environment. They are fed, clean, cared for, played with, read endless Berenstein Bears stories to, held when they get boo-boos, socialized, and forced to slug through homework nightly with two decently-educated parents. Most importantly, through a hodge-podge mess of our day-to-days, my husband and I have managed to pass on our faith to our children, in a very sincere way.
We aren’t doing that badly.
I distinctly remember a chat with a mom a few months ago when I was describing the epic force of my daughter’s tantrums. She said, most clearly, “Oh, I would never allow my children to behave that way.”
Because I suggest my daughter roll on the floor, wailing. Because I control the volume of her cries and her stubborn, stubborn spirit.
I was talking to another mom and mentioned my son’s (very intricate) IEP. She asked, “What’s an IEP?” I worked hard to describe the general concept of putting additional measures in place to promote a child’s success in the school system. Her confusion didn’t abate, “But why can’t he just do what the rest of the class does?”
After my splendid afternoon with my son’s class, I was lost. Simply, lost. I put my fab hip dark grey minivan in gear and landed myself at a friend’s house. I sat at her kitchen table and wailed, “Why are my kids the weird ones?”
She said, “You aren’t in those other families’ homes. You don’t know what happens there.”
Gah. She was right.
I glared at her insight. I didn’t care. My kids were weird. I was embarassed. And I had surely failed as a mother. In fact, surely, there was some sort of Adequete Parenting Board who would be knocking down my door soon, demanding return of my membership badge.
The truth is, I was sad, I was hurting. I am sad, I am hurting.
I don’t know if God will have my children abandon their ill socially-acceptable behaviors.
I don’t know how I will to cope with their differences.
I don’t know why they are different.
I don’t know what to say to people who have perfect children.
I don’t know how to reflect their judgey glances and not feel an acute pain.
I don’t know if their glances are actually judgey or I have ventured into paranoid psychois.
I don’t know how to be perfect.
I do know, that if you understand any of my words, you aren’t alone.
I do know that I get you, that I’m here.
I know that I won’t judge you.
And I know that I’ll keep praying endlessly, to the end of my days, that we might feel a peace in our hearts.
Because, did you know, that our children are gorgeous? Exactly as they are. I know this in some core of my being.
Weird, stupid temper tantrums, awkward, awful post-Halloween party visits in the guidance counselor office, and neurotic needs to not lose BINGO included.
I don’t know the future, but I do know the present. And for those of us who hurt, it may not be pretty. But it’s gorgeous in the realness that we will continue to love our children–to the best of our ability, just as they are, just as we are.
You can do this, friends. And you aren’t alone.
First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2097589, copyright:Goldfinch4ever
Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:7113524, copyright:ilona75
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Janine Huldie says
Are you so aren’t alone, Meredith and trust me we have many moments here, too with both my girls and felt your pain reading this and like I said been there myself. You already know the hell I caught for being class mom for one of my girls and not the other from the one I am not class mom, too. Seriously, this mom gig is hard and finds me feeling lost even on a good day. So much love and hugs to you. If you need anything or just want to chat, I am a PM away my friend.
Janine, your endless support, encouragement and solidarity means the world. xoxo
Kathy Radigan says
My sweet, sweet friend, I so know this type of heartache, and all I can say, is that at least for me, it does get better. I have three darlings that each have their own issues and I heard all of the “helpful” comments. I have to say my favorite is the one where (more than a few) “friends” suggested I should talk to my children, then maybe they wouldn’t need speech services! I said thank you and that I never thought about that one before, I guess I should rethink the “keeping the kids in closet all day” plan. I have witnessed miracles with my kids and I have come to accept myself and not just my kids, for who we are. You are an amazing mom and God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave you your two gorgeous children. Lots of love! xoxo
Kathy, this made me snort. I love it! Thank you 🙂
Boy, this really hit home for me. There are nights that after my daughter goes to bed that I just sit at the kitchen table and cry. I cry because I think I’ve failed. I cry because I don’t understand why she just won’t listen. I cry because I don’t know if I can survive if it’s always like this, without change.
This sentence summed it up perfectly: “Because I control the volume of her wails and her stubborn, stubborn spirit.” I have come to surmise that our daughters are twins, separated by God because neither one of us could handle two at the same time. 🙂
Promise me this: on those night you are crying at your table, KNOW THAT YOU AREN’T ALONE. You are not the only one, I promise. Praying for your hurting momma’s heart, Meredith! xo
Kathy at kissing the frog says
I get this in so many ways. I personally believe that we mommas who have the challenging ones are doing it better because we appreciate more. It’s easy to be happy and be rocking it when everything is fine. It’s what we do every day that makes us reach for better. Love you!!
You appreciate what you work harder for so much more. I am with you, friend! Keep rocking it 😉
Wow, I needed to read this today. Thank you.
Jennifer, prayers to you and thanks for reading!
Rachel Romano says
Just came home from a meeting with my “weird” 9 year old’s teachers and school counselors feeling like a complete failure…thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.
These school conferences can be the worst, Rachel 🙁 And you aren’t alone!!
i was just in tears yesterday in my car in the garage because i think i’ve failed my children too. i was going over how we could possibly afford to send them away to high school since surely that is going to harder than this and in my mind, at times, i truly believe they will be more successful people if Im not the one raising them. i know that may sound crazy but its how i feel sometimes. i see similar traits coming out in them that i hate about myself. they spend the majority of time alone rather than be with friends. it makes me sad. i know how lonely that can be and don’t want that for them.
to make matters worse i live right next door to people with 4 kids all of whom are perfect. according to many – as well as them. its hurt our friendship over the years as i don’t trust my kids to behave as perfectly as theirs when we are around. I often wonder how these people got to be so confident in something like raising kids when both of us neither have before and they are clearly nailing it while i struggle.
I read this, and I cry for you, Crystal. I know that God made you the perfect mother for your kids, and I also know that we all need help, however that looks. Try so hard not to focus on the people who seem to be nailing it, and find strength with all the people who “get it.” You are not alone in feeling this way!
Claire Hackett says
You’ve touched more people than you can ever know. This was amazing and you are so not alone. Thank you for saying exactly how I feel.
Claire, this encouragment and solidarity means so much! xo
Thank you! I am one of ones you are speaking to and you are right in how easy it is to feel isolated. God bless you for trying to unite us in our motherhood journey.
Alexis, thank you so much for checking in here and for being a voice of one who “gets it”. xoxo
Dawn Koller says
Love you friend. Beautifully written as always. Who wants to be normal..lol they were born to stand out!!!
I love you, friend 🙂
This hit home for so many parents. We all need to know we aren’t alone. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing
Thanks for always be the kitchen table I can fall to. Love you, friend!
Meredith, I feel so connected to you and yet we obviously have never met. You write as if you are writing from my heart… And I must thank you for putting it into words. It is so overwhelming and completely devastating to feel as if your kids are not “normal” all the time. We just have to remember that we were given these beautiful, special children for a reason and we are the mommas who are perfect for them. So hang in there!
Bailey, thank you. I love that we can all draw strength from each other in knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles. To loving on our very precious kiddos!
Thank you, THANK YOU for this. I just read this with tears in my eyes. Last night was a horrible night at my house due to the fact that we learned our 13yo’s grades are slipping badly, our 10yo had a complete meltdown over studying for a simple science test, and our 3yo would not stop crying because he wanted me, his Mommy, to just sit and snuggle with him. All three of my kids have something that sets them apart from others: my oldest is a Type 1 Diabetic; my middle child, the only girl, has ADD; and my toddler was born three weeks early and has been behind in speech and is in a special preschool class designed to help him (and yes, I know all about IEPs). Some days I really just wonder why? Why do I have three kids that have issues? But the truth is, no matter how much my stomach feels like a pile of cement is settling in there, or how much my heart just ACHES, I wouldn’t trade any of my kids or my life for some “perfect” ideal. I love the craziness and the chaos, and I’m learning to accept that it’s ok if my house isn’t always picked-up the way others’ homes might be. I am present in my kids’ lives, and I’m doing the best I can to manage their differences and teach them to shine. Thank you for the reminder that I’m not alone, because sometimes it does feel pretty lonely.
Let’s hang out together in that crazy chaos and just do our best together, Kerry. We’ve totally got this, right? 😉
I love you so much my sweet dear friend! Life has felt like a battle here lately, too. Press on! We ALL have our moments, though it’s true that some have many more to handle than others. Here is the verse I prayed for your family this morning (before I read this!)
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19
The mom whose youngest spent a half hour or more wailing this morning
Amen to such true words. We can do it, and we can do it through Him. Thank you for being such a faithful prayer warrior for our family through it all–wailing kiddos included! xo
This spoke to my heart today. We are THAT family! My husband and I relocated our family from PA to FL. We left behind our(and our chikdrens) support system. It seems like since then all of the weirdness came out and has a spotlight on it. Back home everyone saw their beauty for who they were. They helped raise them too! But here, I feel like it is sticking out like a sore thumb and even magnified at home! We are so broken over the behaviors that they are exhibiting we can’t seem to reel it in! Thank you so much for realizing we are not alone! We would appreciate the prayers also! May God give you HIS strength and love to shower on them when yours has run out! – another desperate mom!
So well said, Christine, and so sorry for all the pains that have come with your huge move. All the changes and issues must feel so incredibly overwhelming 🙁 And yes, fellow desperate mom, desperately praying for His back-up strength to fill you!
Oh Meredith – I am so sorry you are hurting. It may look like those other moms have it so easy on the outside, but I do know that everyone has their own cross to bear. I’m pretty sure God picked you to mother your children because you are the perfect mom for them, and they are the perfect children for you.
And if it makes you feel any better, my kids were/are always “worse” when I was there at school functions. ALWAYS. It’s a quandary!
Big love to you. I think you are an amazing mom (and friend).
Leslie, this does make feel better–thank you. And thanks for the sweet, needed encouragement, friend. xoxox
I-E-P! and while my son’s issues aren’t that extreme, it makes me feel, “me” feel different. Isn’t that strange? Wow, your post made me feel better.
We’ve moved from Missouri to Virginia and my 9YO is at a new school and he tells me he hates it (he tried to run away the first week). And boy does that hurt!
Because I have a new job, I don’t feel I have the flexibility to do the things I need to do be there (at school) to see that he’s settling in, so “my” anxiety is higher than normal. Geez! How the tables can be turned. I had a long talk with his Vice Principal just 3 days ago and apparently the child the school sees is not the child who comes home to me.
Please keep the stories coming, I enjoy them…! I can relate!
T, thank you for sharing this. Hearing the stories from other helps so much, it really does. Praying you can settle in to the new job, home, school, everything–you’ve had a lot of changes!
The child the school.sees…
My son is a delight. The Kindie teacher would call and tell me how much V would yell at her, would throw things. I asked what she did to start it. I maintain her lack of caring caused a bad year, but again, we had no problems at home. I finally asked for him to be tested to prove she was the problem, adhd,spd, sensory seeking. I cringe now, knowing he could have had help sooner.
That’s the thing, Terri, when this is all so new to us, we just don’t know what we’re doing. I love that you requested testing and then got answers/help. As we are working through this ourselves, I am now understand this makes all the difference! Thanks for sharing your experience!
Thank you for this. This is my story almost exactly. I’ve looked around so many times and wondered why my child is the one crying and losing it. I decided after many attempts that I could not attend school parties or field trips. If I was there, my child’s emotions would be out of control. He actually does better if I’m not there, even if he asks me to come. I’ve tried to realize that my son has very strong emotions-all emotions. And as a single mom they are strongest with me. He has even told me he feels safe to have these emotions with me. It’s so hard to be the mom. I feel for you!!
Oh gosh, Tina, what a struggle. I hear you. After this last class party, I was wondering the same thing–if it would be better if I weren’t there. Love that he feels safe sharing his emotions with you, though. You’re acing this, Tina, really!
Maria Helena (from Brazil) says
I too have a girl who had furious tantruns and a boy who hit a classmate in front of everybody on a school event. I too was worried, embarased, sad. Other perfect moms and family criticized me too. It hurts like hell. I stick with your friend’s advice: you don’t know what happens in their home! You will have wonderfull proud moments too! You’re doing it right! It is just that being a parent is soo much more difficult than we thought it would be because people hide the truth trying to be/show a perfect family/mom/kids. Keep doing what you think is right and try to stay away from people who criticize. 💕🙂
Maria, you are in my shoes! And “It hurts like hell.”–you so get it. xoxo and here’s to focusing on what encourages us to keep going…
You’re posts always come at a time when I need to read them. I volunteered at my son’s Fall Festival at school. He was the only one in the grade who wouldnt wear a costume. When he walked into the festival I wanted to cry. It makes me so sad he couldn’t enjoy a fun day at school like every other kid in his grade. On the plus side he could care less that he didn’t wear the costume and what the other kids thought of him. There were too many new things going on that day and he couldn’t handle it. I feel guilty when I wish he could just participate like everyone else but if I’m honest that’s how i feel. Glad I’m not alone with the weirdo kids.
Sara, your son sounds SO like mine–he isn’t bothered by his quirks setting him apart at all. I think it’s so often harder on us than them, you know? I’m praying for you…and yes, always know that you aren’t alone in this. xo
Kathy Jo says
Love your insight girlfriend. Love and miss you!
Thanks for checking in, Kathy Jo. Miss you too! xo
Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms says
I had the challenging kid, the screamer, the plucker of her own eyebrows, the nuclear meltdowner, the fighter against the tide tooth and nail . . . and I still do. Only now she is the college student who takes charge, has a plan, and is not afraid to have her opinion printed in the paper for all to see. I wish I had kept an eye on the horizon in those early years.
BTW, those “friends” are worse than any tantruming child. The kids are just learning to manage their feelings and impulses. Those women are purposely letting them fly.
Thanks for the perspective, Ellen. This does help. And also–your take on the “friends”? Smart and too true. xoxo
Well this came at the best time, your moms who hurt blog. Sooo tired of dealing with my son’s behavior, and feeling like a constant failure of a parent. Soo hurting to see my son in the place he is and his absolute disregard for others who try to help him. My kids aren’t preschoolers they’re all teens. Single parenting with them, even though they are all professing Christians since they were young, is so difficult…so tired of seeing everyone else who has kids who excel, who have way more opportunities because they have money, who don’t have anxiety, who seem unselfish, who like being with their family, who “serve the Lord” so much more outwardly than some of mine do, so tired of not talking honestly to anyone around me because they make those very same comments, “I don’t let mine behave that way”, “oh he must really need more support”, “oh that’s too bad about him”… Resisting the judgement calls thrown at me by others, the zero lack of actual care from their father, and resisting the hurt I feel for my son as I see him throw everything away, one person at a time… exhausting, frustrating, and heart breaking.
Hi Chris. I am so sorry for the shoes you are in. Feeling judged by others, especially when struggling with parenting our kids is the worst–absolutely isolating, I know. I admire the good work you are trying to, and please be encouraged because the fact that you continue to care and try is a victory in itself. I will be praying you can find people that encourage you, and please know you aren’t alone in feeling alone. I promise. xo
Too bad neither alcoholism nor prayer ever solved a damn thing. Good luck.