Blessed are the Moms…

Everyone has those moments in life when they question the value they bring to the world in general and especially their families who love them.  If you’re a mom, you’ve almost certainly had that experience.  I know I have on more than one occasion.  My most recent such moment was last Sunday.  Everything was fine until I had a disagreement with our youngest son.  He’s almost seventeen, so you’d think that’d be a regular occurrence in our home, but that’s not so with Josh.  He is a different type of child, worldly in so many ways and sheltered in so many others, but very logic-driven and confident… such a contrast to our oldest son, P.J., who has lived the last ten years of his twenty-three so far dealing with one internal struggle after another and fighting many physical battles as a result (click to read more about P.J.’s Journey).

Author Howard W. Hunter once wrote:  “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”  But what if we screw it up?   Surely all mothers feel this way at one time or another.  I think about some of my closest friends and our conversations about this very thing… we’ve all had so many worries and concerns.  I think of how blessed their children are to have them, and I suddenly realize, I don’t know a single mom who has not struggled in some way.

  • Blessed are the moms who work fulltime and still manage to attend every baseball and soccer game in which their kids play.
  • Blessed are the moms who labor over dance costumes and make cupcakes for the 4th grade bake sale.
  • Blessed are the moms who sit at the kitchen table for three hours every night helping with homework.
  • Blessed are the moms who agonize over bullying, teasing, and self-esteem issues their children are facing.
  • Blessed are the moms who give their children the freedom to make mistakes so they will learn the truth.
  • Blessed are the moms who play dad as well, filling in the gaps left by an absentee father.
  • Blessed are the moms who feed their children through tubes and sleep in chairs in the PICU.
  • Blessed are the moms who look at the child who has just declared himself an atheist and simply say “Well God still believes in you, and so do I.”
  • Blessed are the moms who never give up… who continue to care, pray for, and love the children who have detached themselves in some way.
  • Blessed are the moms who cry at the drop of a pin because they’re so exhausted and overwhelmed with life.
  • Blessed are the moms who have to revive their own child or call 9-1-1 after a drug overdose.
  • Blessed are the moms who place flowers on the graves of their children and never stop grieving.
  • Blessed are the moms who do their best and give it their all.
  • Blessed are the moms who struggle.

There I was last Sunday, following the disagreement with Josh, and wondering if perhaps I should have accepted my infertility as a cross to bear.  (That’s what one Pastor told me I should do when I asked him what the church believed about fertility treatments… that and the cost involved with the in vitro fertilization process is what convinced us to seek adoption as an alternative.)  In retrospect, I wondered if by adopting I had meddled with God’s plan… Clearly anyone would have made a better mother to these boys than I, right?

The next night after things settled down, we sat and talked with Josh and it was all good.  I was thankful I had allowed time for prayer between the disagreement and the resolution… a smart move on my part.   A sense of peace came over me.  I suddenly realized these things… the disagreement, the follow-up, the adoption of both our sons, were all part of God’s plan… not a diversion from it.  No matter what happens with their respective futures, God has given me an opportunity to make a mark on our sons’ lives one way or another.  The difficulties we’ve encountered, all of us moms, do not define the value we have added to our children.  God has entrusted us with these precious souls and all He’s asked is that we do our best.  Blessed are the moms who struggle.

Pseudo Parent Syndrome

I have a confession to make.  I am extremely sensitive about my parenting skills.  I attribute this to the fact that I tried for so many years to get pregnant that I promised myself and God that if He would just give me a baby, I’d be the best darned parent in the Crescent City.  My little plan would have been a cinch to carry out if I had adopted a goldfish, but God wanted to test my abilities and blessed me with not one, but two, real live human beings; and if that wasn’t challenging enough, He gave me BOYS!  “Boys?”  I wondered, “What’s up with that, God?”  I was certain I had specified girls in my request.  The only thing I could figure was the database must have been malfunctioning on the day I sent my prayers up.

Back then, I believed myself to be an authority on childrearing.  After all, I’d watched “Leave it to Beaver,” “My Three Sons,” “The Brady Bunch,” and all those other shows with perfectly functional families and I always knew the solution to every problem faced on every episode.  I was an expert!

So here I am, 18 years after the birth of our oldest son, wondering whatever possessed me to think that parenting would be so easy.  I realize now that I was suffering from Pseudo Parent Syndrome (PPS).  PPS is a condition that afflicts people of all ages, races, and sexes, and oddly enough occurs primarily in folks who have never raised children and have no educational background in childrearing, yet its effects cause these individuals to believe themselves to be authorities on everything there is to know about the subject matter.

Many, many people in the United States suffer from PPS.  You know them.  They are the ones who provide you with cold, hard stares in the grocery line while your 2-year old throws a tantrum over a pack of M&Ms.  They are the ones who shake their heads disapprovingly when you let your 5-year old have soda at a restaurant.  They are the ones who are ready to call 9-1-1 or the local Family Services Agency when you spank your child in public.   And they are the ones who act like it’s easy to dissuade a 14-year old from having sex or doing drugs – after all, it’s as easy as “just saying ‘no.’”

Parents who are forced to deal with these well meaning people who suffer from PPS should take heart in knowing that at least 50% of these folks will someday have children of their own and will be instantly cured of this dreaded affliction.  Just like me, they will see a young mother struggling with her 2-year old in the grocery line, and instead of thinking “Why doesn’t she control that brat?” they will say a silent prayer that God will give this woman strength and peace, and bless this energetic little child.  Just like me, they will empathize with the parent of the 14-year old boy who is facing issues with sex and drugs and they will offer prayers and simple advice (but only when it is solicited) on what agencies provide the most helpful information on these types of struggles.  And just like me, they’ll thank God that they didn’t elect to write a book about childrearing without first having experienced it.  Live and learn – that is the best piece of advice my parents shared.