Time seems to stand still and I’m lost in thought, staring at her face, remembering when I felt the hope for her was lost. What lessons can be learned from when my heart has lost hope? What things has God chosen for me to find? I watch her turn into a young lady and I know there are things I have missed and have neglected to teach her.
I think back to all the news that seemed to drain my heart of all goodness, of all hope: “She has Aspergers.” This also entailed a learning disability and the grim hope of how she stacked up with other kids her age. I questioned myself as a mom, as her mom specifically. Did I not do enough? Was this my fault? Could I have done something better? Am I too late? As if my own questions didn’t convince me of my failures, other people did: “I knew something was wrong before you did“…as if I was completely clueless. Then there were comments about homeschool and socializing and how I should just put her in public schooling because they are the experts and I clearly was not. I could not even begin to understand my own child and I was stupid for thinking I could up to this point.
I thought long and hard about my own pride. Was I just homeschooling because I thought I knew better than everyone else? Was I trying to control everything too much? Was I thinking I could really have super, robotic, intelligent children and that they would one day prove how great I was? How did I not see this coming? And so I wrestled with myself and my pride and with seeing the hope in my own child. I enrolled her in public school part time, dragging my heels the entire way. I cried when my daughter told me her backpack which displayed little hearts all over the back of it was “to show the other kids God’s love”. I felt like I had handed my child over to a pack of wolves.
She spent 2 years in public school (with not much progress and not much complaint) and I then homeschooled her again full time. We had been through some anxious meltdowns, learned a few things about coping, and even got angry with one another and fell apart around each other. We grew when my daughter was in public school, but even after, I was still learning how to be a better mom to her.
Somewhere along the lines, I lost the love of learning with my kids. I looked at schooling at home as a task, not a way to make memories or learn something new. I fell apart in so many ways and my kids watched it all. I unraveled and completely fell apart in a disastrous emotional, fatigued mess last year. I was spiritually, physically, and emotionally spent.
A mom can tire out easily when she sets her mind on being a lot like Martha and a lot less like Mary. And then the people, Oh God, the people. Would their voices ever get out of my head? Would they ever understand how hard this job as a mom is and give me some grace? No, they couldn’t. They aren’t God. And God is the only one who can give grace even on days when other people choose to say
stupid hurtful words and you want to curl up in a ball and die. I could forgive their words, but could I forgive myself for repeating those words to my own heart? I knew better than they did yet I lied to my heart and said I was a failure.
Life is full of little moments. If you look hard, you will see them:
- The once frustrated writer turns into a teenager that can’t put down the pen
- She laughs at a joke even though everyone says kids with Aspergers don’t get humor
- The act of empathy in a question to her dog, “Lily, why are you so sad?” Asperger kids are often labeled insensitive and unaware of emotions.
- The relationship between her younger sister and her grow into something beautiful when they both come running into your bedroom with enormous smiles because they braided each others hair.
- Her love for her family growing because she has grown up with them being her biggest cheerleaders
- You becoming more patient, more loving, and less controlling and anxious
- Seeing the small accomplishments that are both outward and inward and learning the lessons that only God can show you through hard times
Hope is strange that way. We hope for something we know nothing about because we think we know what is best for us. God doesn’t always give us what we hope for–sometimes he gives us something much better. Sometimes he gives us a beautiful person in a package called “Aspergers” who teaches you that you are enough–that even on the bad days we are growing, that our failures do not define us, and that Jesus has enough grace to carry us through.
He offers a lifeline in a ship called “Hope” which will never be taken away:
Let me have silence, and I will speak,
and let come on me what may.
Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
and put my life in my hand?
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
Job 13:13-15a (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)