On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The Dad was playing baseball on Wii Sports. AB has been pretty keen on it too. So for the past several days it's been a lot of "foul ball!", "strike!" and "home run!" coming from the TV while I've bounced around doing dishes, laundry, homework help, quilting, etc. I was struck by a memory of a different me, a young, naive version of my former self. Having grown up as one of five girls, I had declared I wanted to raise only sons, and a house of them at that. Actually, my specific words were, "a baseball team."

Clearly, no one can predict the outcomes of life. Sure, I could have opted to adopt nine sons but even that is unrealistic. At the time, I knew I was being ridiculous but the message I was trying to convey wasn't so much about having nine boys that played baseball but that I wanted something different than my childhood had provided. A house full of boys certainly would have been different than a house full of girls.

What I didn't account for was infertility, the unpredictability of adoption and most of all, my own limitations.

When we are young, we don't perceive personal limitations. The very essence of parenting imposes a "be all you can be" approach to spur our children toward their own personal excellence. It might be wise to point out to a child his or her potential challenges and pitfalls but by the time they are teenagers, they aren't going to hear it, it will only push them further toward those pitfalls as an act of defiance. After that, as a parent, the best choice is to let life be the teacher. Experience, it seems, trumps nature AND nurture alike.

Thus, those of us who are able to stand on our feet and toddle away from our homes and families at the fearless age of 18 are quick to learn that life is more like a game of "whack-a-mole" while attempting to sprint over hurdles than it is a straight path toward success, happiness, wealth, reputation and fame. Few recognize their full potential, most resolve to accomplish what they can to keep the bills paid and not die prematurely. Only a hand full of wise ones who have borne the stripes and scars of hard knocks and gotten up to endure them again learn that the best approach is to accept their own limitations and to navigate life in full understanding of themselves.

There in lies the rub. Coming to a full understanding of oneself often takes a lifetime. How then should we proceed?

At present, I like to consider myself as one of the wise ones. I reflect and evaluate, process and ponder. I'm long on thinking on researching and quick on deciding once I've come to a reasonable conclusion. Then I'm bullheaded and won't budge until it's time to reflect, evaluate, process and ponder again. Currently, I've realized that though I wish I could be one of those women that manages a house full of children with challenges it can never be for me. I don't have the stuffing for it. I am broken, defeated, beaten down and discouraged. Parenting has all but laid me bare. I am limited in that regard and it makes me angry but mostly, it makes me sad.

If I choose not to accept this limitation about myself, that I never was nor ever will be the type of woman that could raise a baseball team's worth of children, let alone boys, then I choose to fail. So I accept what I am made of, both the good and the bad and I find that I am capable of accomplishing great things after all. I merely need to modify my goals, however reluctant and grievous it makes me to do so. My mission? Success no matter what the cost. Today it costs me the truth that I am really only capable of raising two children.

I have three.

I try to console myself be remembering that of my three charges, two are challenged which would limit any woman. But... not so. I know lots of women that take it on times three (or more) and they don't seem to struggle the way I do. It hurts me to accept this about myself.

Today is Wednesday. In a little more than an hour I'll be volunteering in the resource room at the kids' school. Tomorrow is a full day, working an a big job then leading WG's Brownie troop in earning a try-it badge. Friday morning is a therapy appointment followed by volunteering in the afternoon and riding in the evening. There's no time to catch my breath before Saturday when Sissy comes home for an overnight TL. I'm terrified. Can't sleep, anxious, nauseated, bowel problems, tense, headachey, melancholy, fidgety, short-tempered, worried, scared ...

Adding Sissy back into the equation is where the rubber meets the road for me and where I race straight into the brick wall of my limitations. There's nothing more terrifying than knowing you're about to endure a head-on collision. Such is the price I pay for learning and accepting my own limitations. I just don't see it happening any other way.


Cyndi said...

I hope you all survive that collision! My prayers are that some how you will eventually find a better solution for your daughter, you all deserve it.

Jamey... said...

I resonated with a lot of what you said in here, but I have to take one big stand of difference.

You are not giving yourself nearly enough credit, not nearly. You said "parenting has all but laid me bare" Technically, yes, what you're doing is "parenting", but it is SO much more, SO much more. Parenting a typical child is hard, but that's not what has you laid bare.

You may have been all but laid bare, but sweetheart, it's the extreme mental illness of your daughter that has done that to you just like it's done to her. It's not parenting.

Let's give credit where credit is due and you, dearheart, deserve a standing ovation from everyone.

And that's all I have to say about that. ;)

triplehmoms said...

I agree with Jamey-110%!!! You're right. It's not parenting. You're doing a great job!

CherylR said...

praying for your weekend...I don't think I could do it even with 1!