When You Are the Bad Parent: Learning to Give Grace

Recently, a 2 year old boy was lost in the woods. His grandmother had taken him and his older sister for a walk. Reportedly the older child ran ahead and the grandmother ran after the child. She turned around and the little boy was gone. Of course over the next few days the temperature was in the teens. The little boy died from hypothermia. For the full story, click here

My heart just breaks everytime I hear this story. I cringe with the thought of how scared that little boy must have been. I just cannot imagine. I can’t imagine the grief and guilt that grandmother must have felt. I can’t imagine the panic and worry the parents must have felt. I guess it really hits close to home because I have a 3 year old. It hits even closer to home because I take my children hiking on a semi-regular basis.  I understand how this little boy could have just wondered away.  I understand how someone might accidentally leave their child in the car. I understand how someone might be scared they could  hurt their child out of anger or depression. I understand how a three year old might end up in a busy intersection by himself. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1yKpt1muU).  I’m not justifying these things; I’m just asking that before you judge, you put your feet in the other person’s shoes.

Toddlers are known to be curious creatures. They see a butterfly and they chase it. They throw a rock over the edge; they run to see where it lands. They see a bug in the middle of the street and stop to study it. They have no concept of impending danger.  You have to be on your toes at all times! I could see my daughter getting curious and running off into the woods. Then in a blink of an eye, she’s lost.  Not knowing what to do, she probably cries and runs back to where she thinks I am.  Oh, the terror! My stomach lurches at the mere thought! How scared and cold and horribly confused that little boy must have been that his mommy couldn’t find him. The terror and the grief!

We all have our routines; any change messes with your head. I can see how you think, “I will just run into the store to get two things and then you get stuck behind the lady with 100 coupons, the slowest cashier, and slowest bagger known to eternity. The next thing you know, it has been 30 minutes or more. We have all heard of the horrifying facts of how fast a vehicle can become deathly hot. I have been in my car driving to work and made the turn to go to work instead of the daycare! I fortunately remembered before I arrived at work, but my point is that none of us are perfect, none of us are immune.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5

One day, we found my daughter outside with our dog. We did not know she was outside. We did not realize she could open the door by herself! Fortunately we figured it out quickly. Can you honestly tell me you have never made a mistake?

Remember when you were so exhausted taking care of your newborn? You were in a fog, ALL DAY LONG! When the baby starts crying and he won’t stop, sometimes you don’t know what to do. You can read all the books and articles you want and still have no clue.  I have literally been so frustrated and tired that I had to lay my  baby down and let him cry, for fear of hurting him. That is a sombering thought, one that I do NOT readily admit. Then on top of the huge responsibility of taking care of this completely dependent, vulnerable baby, your hormones are going crazy! With my first baby, I literally sweated more than I thought humanly possible. I also remember breaking down from the sheer exhaustion and stress of it all. I was completely inconsolable!

I would guess that more then one of you have had similiar thoughts. (I hope.)

We don’t like to talk about these things.  No one likes to admit that they would be capable of any of these horrid acts.

We are such a judgmental society (I am no exception). We think these stories can only happen to other people, to those parents. We gasp with disgust and turn our noses upward in disdain.

Before we judge, we ought to take a look in the mirror.  Let’s step back for a moment and then reach forward with arms wide open, sharing our hearts and giving each other grace. I don’t share these personal stories lightly, or to showcase how imperfect of a parent I am. I share them so you know you are not alone. You are not the only woman who has these “bad” parent thoughts. These thoughts don’t define you, they do not make you a bad parent. They only serve as reminders, that we can not go it alone. We need each other, and we need our heavenly Father. I ask you to be open to these thoughts, so that others may know they are not alone. We are on the same team.

What are some ways you can let others know you are on their team?

Perhaps you can call a new mom and offer to watch her baby so she can rest? Perhaps you can deliver a meal or have groceries delivered? Perhaps, just sharing your stories can help others know they are not alone? Let’s show compassion to each other and learn from each other. We all have lessons to give and to receive.

“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. the amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” Luke 6: 36-38

 

If you have been pregnant in the last 12 months and are having feelings of depression or you feel out of control, then please call a doctor and a friend. Post partum depression is real. Read HERE for more symptoms of Post partum Depression and what to do about it.

Look at the Birds

One of my favorite birds: A Painted Bunting Photo credit: www.fanpop.com

If you have been following my blog or know me personally, then you know my husband and I are expecting our second child very soon! September 3rd. 4 weeks away!! Yikes!  That being said, I plan on continuing to write until our little boy decides he is ready to meet the world. Once he is here, I plan on taking 4 to 8 weeks off from blogging to get to know our newest family member and adapt to life with two children.  I hope to be able to work on my website’s design as well, so if you have any tips, feel free to share as the whole technological thing is a challenge for me.  I plan to make a quick announcement shortly after the birth of our baby boy.

The question is, am I ready? I am not, but are you ever, really? I know we will adjust and learn, but it is scary all the same. How soon you forget all the nuances of taking care of a newborn.  You have this tiny living being that is utterly and completely dependent on you. God has granted you a gift and responsibility. It is ever daunting. No other species, that I know of, does it seem that their children are quite so dependent and useless when they first come into this world. Foals come out already walking and then running soon after.  Baby sea turtles are set off on their own as soon as their eggs hatch to live or die. I am glad we are not turtles! (for many reasons, think hundreds of eggs being hatched!)  But my sense of fear and anxiousness is where my weakness lies, and thus where God’s strength is shown.  I think we all have those one or two verses that speak to your heart. It is almost like God wrote those words just for you! Mine is the following:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6: 25-34

Some of you may be surprised to learn that I am a worry wart. I have learned through the years to that God is in control, but it is an ongoing struggle.  The words above speak to my heart and serve to remind me of what is important and how to deal with my worries. If it was not for the truth of those words, I would have had several panic attacks. Truly, there are days, where I am  just trying to get through the day. And that is okay!  We don’t have to have everything planned all the time (I’m preaching to myself here!)  It’s a running joke among friends that I have to do  lists for my to do lists.   But truthfully some days, I am just trying to accomplish what needs to be done that day, and I know the rest will have to wait or be pitched completely. My favorite part of the verse above is where it talks about the birds.  That holds a special place in my heart, for some of my best childhood memories are from bird watching with my father.  Finding that one special colorful bird was exciting and its beauty enthralling.

I ask for your prayers in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, that I can take things day by day. (and not be too mean to people!) To trust that God will take care of me. I ask for reminders to cherish my daughter and husband in the last few weeks as we are, and yet be ready to celebrate a new life in our son and with each other.  That I can truly focus on what actually needs to be done and not on things I would like to be completed. I pray that we can cherish our new son, as they are only that little and vulnerable but for a brief time. And in a flash, they will, Lord willing, be leading their own lives. I pray for a strong and healthy baby, but most of all I pray that he will know he is loved by God and that he is loved by his family.

I leave you with the following link to a song that has been on my heart all week, for our God is merciful. “God be Merciful to Me”. https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play?p=God+be+merciful+to+me&vid=52ccc4e1e0a4ddc12e638186c9acd817&turl=http%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DWN.PZhG4LtZOlCocnhR1%252bQ%252fcw%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D360%26w%3D480%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEjPzlDvaYfU&tit=God+Be+Merciful+to+Me+%28w%2F+Lyrics%29&c=1&h=360&w=480&l=271&sigr=11bu9rhrc&sigt=1116klb97&sigi=12p60i38j&ct=p&age=1329511266&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&hsimp=yhs-prodege_001&hspart=prodege&vm=p&tt=b

Truly God is merciful to me:
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank you for reading and praying!