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.

Let Us Not Forget Our Value

Photo credit: blog.deutschinc.com

Recently, you may have heard about the tragic shootings in my hometown of Chattanooga, TN, where we lost some brave men.(http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/jul/22/fighting-our-fighters-erlanger-traumteam-call/315834/) It has shook the whole city. I work at the hospital that these victims were taken. I was not directly involved with any of the victims, but very well could have been with just a little change in timing. I do know the nurses and doctors and surgical techs who were involved. They are friends, mentors, teachers, and team members. I want you to know I am proud of my team members. They deserve to be recognized. We are at a level one trauma center, so I believe every day they deserved to be thanked. Not to downplay the merit deserved in handling of recent events, but we do see our share of “traumas”.  We see a great deal of shootings and stabbings, often gang related. We see head injuries, motor vehicle crashes and a fair amount of work related or alcohol related issues. My hospital  works just as hard for these cases. I am thankful to be a part of a community that takes value in all their patients’ lives, even the ones who do not always deserve it.  That being said, who are we to judge whether someone deserves to live or not? Our job is to save lives, not question the merits deserved.

“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

However unjust it may seem at times, every person has value in God’s eyes. Even the drunkards, murderers, even those who seem to be our enemy. We live in a fallen world with fallen people all around us, including ourselves.  So much so, that even when good people get the merit they deserve, there are still those in the background muttering complaints and gripes.  “I work hard every day; I deserve to be recognized too”   Why aren’t we recognized like this for every “traumatic” case?  Those are some of the complaints I have heard.  Mostly things said have been good, but statements like that make me sad. Why can’t we just be happy for those who deserve recognition, for any reason? Their complaints are correct, they should be recognized and thanked, but let us not allow bitterness to hinder us when our own team members and friends are recognized.  Be happy for those in the moment and pray that we never have that kind of need to be recognized again. I don’t want to be recognized, for that only means that more grief and tragedy has come our way.  So as you are praying for our city and country, do remember to thank those who had to immediately respond to the events, for it took a whole community, not just the people you see on the media. It took a whole community, from the highest in command to the lowest paying assistants. Remember that God values every life. I know He is grieving with us, for He is a just and merciful God.  My heart breaks for the families of those fallen heroes, and it breaks for the people who worked tirelessly around the clock to save lives to no avail in this circumstance.  But although the loss of lives is a failure, it is not the ultimate failure.  God does bring good to all situations.  In our situation, it has brought a community together, if for but a brief few weeks. We can’t always see the end, but there is One who can. And he has given us grace and value by breathing life into us.

“If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith.”  Galatians 6:3-5; 9-10

Thank you for reading, and thank you for praying! Please share if you feel led to do so!