Recently I had a conversation with my oldest son, who is 30. We talked about the things I would do differently as a parent. He said he thought we did a great job as parents (Yes! What we all want to hear!), but there was one thing he wished I hadn’t done. My heart immediately sank; I felt guilty, wondering what I had done to him. He told me a funny story about an off-hand comment I said that his 7-year-old brain took literally. It is a funny story. We’ve been laughing about it ever since.
I have another grown son, who is currently in therapy. He is dealing with the trauma he experienced living in our home due to living with siblings with RAD. He told me about some of the issues he is working on because our house was stressful. My heart filled with guilt and shame again. My daughter has a chronic illness due to stress, and every time she mentions how much she struggles with her health, I feel guilty.
I know firsthand the trauma my kids lived through, the trauma I had no control over. None of these situations are ideal or what I would want for my grown kids. I honestly did my best but could not protect them entirely. My heart still seizes, and I feel like I failed somehow.
Motherhood is weird like that. No matter how well we are doing, whether our kids are thriving or not, we always think we can do better. We always believe it is our fault. We hardly ever take credit for what we do well; instead, we look for holes in the foundation. We beat ourselves up, wishing we had done better.
Here is the deal: there is no possible way to give equal attention to our kids; there is no way we can protect them from the hurts of this world.
Even when we blow it, which we will, we are not God, and we cannot forecast how any of them will do. We can love them well and be a safe and warm spot for them to land when life is hard. I encourage you to remember that you are planting seeds. You can water and tend to those seeds, But God is the one that makes them grow.
On those days when you don’t water and tend to these seedlings well, God is still present, doing his good work.
When my oldest son, Davis, left for college, I was worried how I would navigate this season. He was my first one to enter adulthood. I told him I loved him, and since this was my first rodeo, I probably would make many mistakes letting go and navigating this new path. I told him,
“I will make mistakes, but let’s keep loving each other, talking , and giving each other grace.”
I stand by that sentence when we keep loving, talking, and giving grace; we will be ok.
As special needs moms, our lives require us to spend more time with our kids with disabilities., Likely, our other kids did not get all the attention we wished we could have given them. That is not the end of the world. Instead of beating ourselves up and feeling guilty, we can keep loving, talking, and extending grace.
In my conversation with Aundi Kolber ( make sure you tune into this excellent interview, which airs July 18th!) – she said, “Experiences that have the potential to become trauma don’t necessarily become trauma when we have support around us.”
We can support our children using these tools.
- Delight in their delights.
- Love them and hear their hearts.
- Let them know that love grows even amid not-so-perfect circumstances.
- Give them a safe space to say what they need to say.
These are the tools that move us away from mom guilt and to connection. I still feel a slight twinge of guilt when conversing with my older kids about the trauma they experienced. But that feeling quickly passes. I am so proud of who they are and grateful that we have a relationship involving honest conversations. They have experienced trauma, but they are also thriving. By committing to honest conversations, loving each other, and extending grace, we can become a safe place for connection to thrive.