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Confessions of a Desperate Mom

Just when I think, “I know what to do,” another stage comes that I didn’t know existed.

Take for instance, pregnancy. I forgot each ordeal from one pregnancy to the next—until I got there. Then I’d remember, “This is when I can’t eat, yet feel full.” And because I must drink a lot, I  plan my life around how close I am to a bathroom.

I couldn’t wait for the birth.
But when the birth came, I wondered why couldn’t I wait?
What was sleep—but a figment of my imagination?

Wouldn't it get better when they could do things for themselves?
That brought the waiting stage. I tried not to tap my foot, as someone learned to “do it himself.” Why did I want this?

When school came and they could “do it himself,” I felt like a lost some of my purpose. 
School brought connecting sights with sounds to form words.
They turned eight: a crucial stage where everything “fit.” Their eyes adjusted to reading and finer things; their hands were coordinated for detailed work, like handwriting; their ears became in-tune for music—their entire body seemed to fall into place. That meant they were closer to finding what life for them was about and leaving me behind.

Each boy stretched my patience at twelve. I could no longer treat them as little boys, they were becoming men. Yet could revert to a boy in a moment. What mom imagines that twelve years was enough to teach all they needed to know? But this stage built their confidence, developed their talents and pursued their interests.

All these stages tested their wings. And if a mother hovered too close, she’d get whacked in the face by these wings.
As moms, we applaud their milestones, yet cry over our loss. We are no longer needed.
The hardest stage is when they fly the coop. They find their soul-mate and leave the nest.
As moms, we feel we are no longer needed.
That’s what we’ve trained them to do.
They can’t stay in the nest forever. 

But what happens if they do—stay in the nest forever?
What happens if you have prepared them for the “world” but they are not ready?
Our last son, though we received him at eighteen months, was slow to hear and respond due to drug use prior to his birth and exposure after his birth.

Brain development for consequences and responses were not developed, nor can they be “fixed” now.
That means when I discipline for something today, he won’t remember it tomorrow.
When he is told the letter makes this sound, he can’t remember it fifteen minutes later.
It took him two years of daily repetition to learn his letter sounds. Today he enjoys reading. It’s a miracle. A real gift from God.
Yet, this year at the end of sixth grade, he couldn’t remember what an equal sign meant.
It frustrates him.
It makes me angry at what was done to him.

Time is lost to him.
When I discipline today, he won’t make the connection for tomorrow’s actions.

Distractions are his life.
I could excuse his behavior and accept that this is as good as it gets. 
But as a mom, I can’t. He is meant for something greater.

I have raised seven other boys. I know what boys can and should do. They become men and face the world. But face the world they must.
No mom wants to raise a little boy.
Letting go is hard, but becoming a man is what boys are meant to do, even if it breaks a mom’s heart.
What breaks my heart daily is a boy who doesn’t become a man.
When consequences were ignored, more restrictions were applied. If I couldn't trust him, he wouldn’t be allowed freedom.
I must discern what he “could” do with what he “would”do.
“Forgetting” is an excuse.
I instructed him, then expected obedience immediately.
No “grace” period was allowed. That eliminated distractions and forgetting.
He developed a “woe is me” attitude.
I replayed the “why” for each broken rule
I never reminded my other boys of their short-comings. Did I want to remember mine? But this son must remember past wrongs, so he could remember the rule was important enough for him to obey it now.

Some ask, “Is he capable?”
I knew he was.
His blank stare showed he had zoned out. He did not want to listen to instruction.

He’d interrupt my instruction to argue the rule or explain how he had obeyed.
He tried to convince me, as if I didn’t see him blatantly disregard what I had just told him.
Underneath his questioning was deception. You didn’t see what I just did.
He’d accuse me, as if “I was the liar.”
I disciplined for breaking the rule AND lying about it.

When his arguing continued, I recognized the disrespect—not lack of concentration or mental disability.
But my energy level couldn’t always force him to admit to his lies.
I stopped instructing and walked away when he interrupted. “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.” Proverbs 14:7.

But as the years passed, and the restricted rules still applied, I’d wonder what more should I do. After all, twelve years has come and he should be leaving his boyhood and becoming a man, yet he asks, “What is an equal sign?” after six years of lessons.

He works hard, but with an initial bad attitude and hissy fits (not age appropriate by any means).
When he finishes the task, he returns like his happy-go-lucky personality allows. 
I want to give grace, not be so hard, give allowances, but allowing exceptions one time allows him to feel sorry for himself when I don’t give grace the next time.

At twelve, with the other boys, I allowed them to determine some of their own boundaries. They were becoming men after all.
With this one, I also withdraw, not because he is becoming a man, but because he refuses to listen and obey. He thinks he already knows; he doesn’t accept instruction. He scowls at correction.

Every day I wake and pray to be kind.
Before he even rises from his bed, he groans—I have stopped correcting him for this. No one can sleep around him. He has isolated himself.
Inwardly I seethe. Another day without kindness. I have failed again. And the day has just begun.

I cry over each son as they leave the nest. 
But I weep daily over this boy who may never become the man he could be.
Not because of drugs that damaged his brain, but by his disobedience and disregard for truth.

Each stage of motherhood brings a realization I cannot do it alone.
I need God for His strength and wisdom.
With this final son, I need not only God's strength and wisdom, but His hope.
For without God’s intervention, I have none.

My God is a God of miracles. 
And He’s asks me, “Do you trust Me?”
When I look at myself, and what I can do and have done, I weep without hope.
I must leave what I’ve done at the altar.
And focus on God.
He is enough.

Desperate? Yes.
Confessions of failure? You bet.
But this mom is desperate enough to believe God can work a miracle. 


What has God brought you to the end of...so that you look to Him?
 

Thank you for writing this article. I realize that it was very difficult to write and share the internal struggle you experience.

Just this week I had a conversation with one of my friends about how hard parenting really is. And I found it, ironically, to be very encouraging to hear that she struggled with parenting too! Wow I'm not alone!

The fad floating around of "I am enough" mantras will never be enough to get a mom through parenthood (it's actually kind of laughable that we think that we can solve our own inadequacies by telling ourselves they don't actually exist...what an anti-Gospel idea). So grateful for the true hope that is in Christ who paid for our inadequacies and covers them with His grace. He specializes in redeeming the broken and the weak!

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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