Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Duh. We birth these bundles of joy and quickly discover that life is not a cake walk. There are diapers to change, mouths to be fed, laundry to be folded and yes…countless sleepless nights in Seattle and the uttermost parts of the world.
So, how do we handle difficult parenting situations? What do we do when our nearly perfect world comes crashing in?
Our son was released from the hospital with doctor’s orders to get plenty of rest and to restrict physical activity. The concussion to his brain was severe and therefore: no t.v., no jumping, no running, no skipping. Well, I’m sorry. How in the world do you do this with a five-year old boy? Might as well tie him down to the bedpost because there is no way in high heaven that he is going to sit around eating bon-bons while soaking his feet in the tub. He’s an overly active, outdoorsy kinda all-American BOY.
Tip #1 DO THE BEST YOU CAN
My mama drilled it into my head, “The good Lord gave you one life to live, do with it the best that you can.” And unfortunately, we are not all wired to be neurosurgeons and rocket scientists. We just aren’t. So give yourself a break. You don’t have to be the perfect mom and have the perfect kid. You don’t have to have the tidy-whitey clean house all of the time. Nor do you have to look like you just shopped at Nordstrom’s.
It’s okay to be normal. Really, it is.
I did a terrible job at keeping the doctor’s orders..but I tried. Yes, seriously, I did try. He seemed like he was totally fine. His recovery appeared to be going well.
Tip #2 STOP BEING THE HELICOPTER MOM
You know, the mom who hovers day and night over their child. They have no problem snatching the toys right out of your child’s hands to plop it right into their little Johnny’s. Yah, that mom. Don’t be her. Truth be told, we cannot completely protect our precious little ones from all danger. We’re not superheroes. I know we want to be. I know we would fly to the moon and back to see our babes be kept from harm’s way.
But we can’t.
That’s why we have God. We have a God who never sleeps nor slumbers. Who is big enough for every challenge. Who allows difficulty to cross our paths so we are directed back to Him. Nothing is too big for God.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
Two weeks after our son’s fall from a 12-foot ladder, things were returning back to normalcy. With our troubles in the rearview mirror, it was looking like a sun-shiny day. We were fighting our way through. It felt like we were winning. Coby was working (again) and I had to sub in as the little league basketball coach.
Confession 104: I am not a basketball coach.
Let’s just make that real clear upfront. But when duty calls, I will answer. Thankfully, they were five-year olds and no where near the NBA. It was half-time and our pediatrician approached me with this question, “Hey, what did the neurologist say about Kade’s brain tumor?”
Brain + Tumor = 2 Words U Never Want to Hear in the Same Sentence
I had no clue what he was talking about. Yet, I knew he wasn’t mistaken in my identity. My husband and he attended medical school together and we were close family friends. Startled, I replied,
“What are you talking about? What brain tumor?”
“You mean Coby never told you”
“No, he never told me.” [awkward pause of slience]
TIP #3 CALL FOR HELP
I’m not sure how I managed to get through the remainder of the game. I definitely would not be up for “Coach of the Year.” That’s okay, I had bigger fish to fry. I could not think about anything else. My thoughts consumed me.
As soon as I hit the driveway, I ran for our bedroom, shut the door and tried to reach my husband to get the skinny. However, as an E.R. physician, he is not always reachable. He did not answer and therefore, the next several hours were exhausting. I had a come to Jesus meeting.
ME. JESUS. FACE GLUED TO CARPET KINDA MEETING.
Something happened that day…and it can happen for you, too. The smaller I became, the more I could behold the glory of God. I could do nothing..ABSOLUTELY NOTHING…to control my circumstances. They were full-blown out of this girl’s control. I was powerless. I was a wimpy kid. And I discovered that despite my awful, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, stupid and icky situation, somehow God’s plan for me was beautiful.
“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these stars” Isaiah 40:21
Jesus is there. He is real. He does hear our heart’s cry. I spent the entire afternoon on my knees. Looking back, it is one of the times I felt cradled in His arms.
Close & tight.
TIP #4 BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
I’m sure my kids could hear my sobbing behind the closed doors of our bedroom. However, in the midst of my tears, I also know they heard my cry out to God. I’m not a perfect mom. In fact, just like you, I feel like I take two steps back for every step forward. But this I will say–my kids see me & hear me talk to God. They are smart kids. They know I don’t have all the answers. That’s why my infamous response is often, “Because I told you so.”
Despite my insufficiencies, they see my less-than-perfect trust in God. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always immediate. But by the grace of God, it is growing confidently strong. I didn’t call anyone else that day. I knew they would not have any answers. Instead, I spent the day on my knees in prayer.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29
TIP #5 CONSIDER EACH DAY A GIFT
My knuckle grip around my kid’s lives was waning. I wasn’t winning. I could not predict the outcome for their precious lives. Today was the perfect reminder–life is short and the things of this world will one day pass away. Don’t forget to tell your kids, “Hey, I sure do LOVE you!”
I love your freckles.
I love your smile.
I love the way you laugh & snort right out loud.
I love to listen to you sleep, watching your chest move up and down.
I love your toes. Weird, yes. But I still do.
Bottom Line: I simply love you!
After the eternal day, my husband arrived home. He confirmed the words that were spoken earlier that day by our pediatrician. Our son does have a brain tumor…but apparently there are different types. Some people have fatty brain tumors, or lipomas, that go unnoticed and cause no harm. He didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to worry. He didn’t want me to waste my time. Hmmm…he didn’t tell me because he was looking out for my well-being. He didn’t tell me.