We sat in the car, inching forward in traffic that stretched miles ahead of us. My tween daughter turned on the radio.
“Not that station!” I protested internally, but said nothing.
She pulled out a granola bar and started eating (by which, I mean she ate 1/2 and ejected the crumbs from the rest around the seat). I looked over, tried to breathe away the annoyed reaction to her mess…
Then I saw the water bottle, still full. Because of her enuresis and encopresis, she has to drink one bottle by lunch and a second one by dinner. The lunch one was still full and it was 4 p.m. Again. “Do I have to police every sip of water, every day for the rest of her life??” I whined, before I put on my Nice Mom voice and reminded her to drink it.
We’d spent the day together, going to doctor’s appointments. I’d sprung for a sitter so we could visit the specialists without my usual swarm of children.
“Quality time with my redhead,” I’d hoped.
Except that everything about our time together was about as enjoyable as sandpaper in my socks.
Since the uptick in unexplained seizures last week and the resulting redirection of summer from relaxation to life at Children’s Hospital offices, I’ve been hovering between mildly annoyed and downright resentful of my daughter’s special needs.
I’d stuffed it down deep, read 3 novels (it’s amazing how productive avoidance can be!) and argued at God over his messed-up definition of “abundant life.”
But that day in the car, I decided to just be honest: “God, I wish I’d never adopted her.”
I let myself say it.
I let the truth form in my mind for a moment, long enough to turn and look at her — this messy, wild, enigmatic, troubled, fire-engine red-haired challenge in the seat next to me — and let it go.
The results shocked me.
When I looked at her, the truth of my exhaustion, frustration, stress, and anger at God admitted in all it’s ugly glory, the REAL feelings found a chink in the wall of my heart and started to flow.
- The guilt… that I can’t DO anything to ease her difficult journey out of long-ago neglect and abuse, into a life of wholeness.
- The fear… over episodes like last week when she had a seizure that collapsed her into my sister’s jacuzzi, nearly drowning her, or the wondering if she’ll make it home OK from her bike ride around the block.
- The discouragement… this suspicion that we’ll never find out why she’s still struggling against her Failure to Thrive diagnosis, 9 years and dozens of specialists later.
- The anxiety… that we’ll put all this time in to doctors and it will leave her feeling less-than, or leave her sisters feeling like it’s robbed them of family life.
- The depression… when I let myself admit I’m scared of it being this hard for a lifetime with our daughter.
When I let myself feel the ugly words, the anger dissolved. The thought of truly never having met her, of never becoming her mother — as hard as it’s been — knocked the wind out of me. The sadness pressed so hard on my heart, the tears poured so hot on my cheeks, that I almost had to pull off the road.
Right then, I discovered two things:
- God wasn’t mad at me for being honest. He already knew.
- As tired and frustrated as I am at my daughter’s challenges, at her constant attachment-disordered behavior problems, and the difficulty it creates for our entire family… I would never trade this kid in for the world.
What about you?
How are you doing with your child’s needs and the challenges that come with them daily? What would it take to admit how you really feel?
Will you take the risk to find fresh comfort and freedom in your relationship with your child and their challenges today?