Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Not About Me

It was a rough morning at the Nutcase house. Actually, there were a lot of mornings that were rough. The mood was one of walking on eggshells around the house. I was not sure of what to say or how to say it. You see, my oldest daughter was struggling. She was struggling with trying to figure out where she fit in this world as she navigated the preteen years. She had just started middle school at a school where she knew only a few people. Her response to stress was anger, no matter what emotion really lurked beneath the surface. Simple questions were answered with anger and frustration which resulted in her beating herself up verbally.

As a mom, it was hard to hear. The Other Nut and I had tried so many different things; tough love, gentle love, discipline for responding rudely, prayer, hours of communicating with her. And yet, we didn't feel that we were getting anywhere, that we were helping her grow and learn through this struggle. We found ourselves throwing our hands up in the air and quite frankly, feeling defeated. We had no more answers. We realized that we had reached a point where we needed help in parenting our oldest. We had both just spent time in counseling, me for 2 years to be exact, and it had been a great tool towards healing and understanding our feelings. And so we realized that maybe this was what our daughter needed as well.

But along with this realization came a lot of insecurities for me. Even though I was and am a huge proponant for counseling, the mere fact that my daughter needed it made me feel like a huge failure. I felt like I had messed up my daughter, so bad that she needed a counselor to "fix her". At first, I didn't even want to talk about it with others, because I saw it as a reflection of me and my parenting skills. I was looking at the situation through my own insecurities.

And so this morning, this hard, difficult morning, I spoke out of my insecurities. I wanted to feel better about myself as a mommy. As soon as the words left my mouth, the venom immediately stung my sweet daughter.

"You have problems, and you just need some help." As soon as I said it, I wanted to take them back. Inwardly, I grabbed at the air, trying to get them back. But the damage had been done-the words had already been heard, not only with her ears, but her heart.

But I was too prideful at the moment, my insecurities too controlling so I just shut the door and walked away. It wasn't until later that my pride began to melt away. It wasn't until I faced my insecurities head on that I was able to humble myself. My insecurities told me that I had messed her up, that I was a horrible mommy.

But God had a "come to Jesus" meeting with me. He didn't tell me, "oh, you are a great mom. Don't worry. You didn't do anything wrong." Instead, He said,

"It's not about you." And oh, how I needed those words.

It wasn't about me. It didn't matter how I felt. It didn't matter that my daughter needing counseling to help her process her thoughts made me feel like a failure. What mattered was that I did what was best for my daughter, even if that meant admitting that I didn't have all the answers for her and that I needed some help in parenting her. This was hard to swallow, because pride can be like that, hard to swallow. It can get stuck in our throat as we try to gulp it down.

I think the hardest part was having to be willing to hear some hard things; things that maybe I needed to change in how I respond to her, things that I might say, or things that I have already said that have wounded her. I knew that if I was seeking help, I would need to be willing to take advice and change things that might need changing. This was hard, vulnerable, uncomfortable. What would this reveal about myself? This could be ugly.

But it's not about me. It's about her and what she needs from me to grow and mature as she figures out this world and these things called emotions. Isn't that what God calls me to do as her mommy? To not parent out of my need for validation, but out of her need for victory in this life. I want my kids to live victorious lives.

I went back to her later that day, apologizing for my hateful words. I asked her to forgive me for hurting her. We talked about the fact that those words weren't filled with truth and love. We talked about that it was OK to need someone to help process our thoughts sometimes and that it didn't mean that we were somehow "bad or wrong". And we talked about that having problems or whatever you want to call them is just a normal part of navigating life in a world that is so marred by sin. 

And so together, as a family, we all head to counseling for my sweet daughter. Hand in hand, heart to heart. We have this connection now that we didn't have before. We talk about counseling, both of our experiences, and how it is so good.

The mornings are better, but not just because of her. I've come to learn and be OK with the fact that I don't have to have all the answers. I think the pressure is off of everyone, knowing that we don't have to figure it all out. There is a peace in knowing that there is someone else that my daughter can talk too and process things with, someone that is godly and understands children. My daughter loves this woman, and she looks up to her. She has helped my daughter realize that often times there is another emotion underneath the anger and how to recognize that emotion. She has helped her understand herself better, and I am so grateful that my daughter is learning these skills at a young age.

So counseling has been good, good in so many ways. I have faced my insecurities in the realm of parenting. Being a mommy is hard, and I'm not going to get everything right-and that's OK. I am going to do and say things I shouldn't say, and there are going to be things that I need to change in how I parent my kids-and this is OK. None of this means that I have failed as a mom, that somehow I have messed up my children. It just means what I already know-that I'm a sinful person, learning as I go, clinging to God and His grace, and praying for His wisdom to raise up my kids.

You know, I never quite knew what I would think about someone else being a role model for my kids, someone that could say the same thing I say, but my children accept it from them and not from me. How would I feel about my kids seeking advice and answers from someone else? My insecurities told me that I probably wouldn't like it, that I wouldn't want to embrace it and encourage it.

But I couldn't have been more wrong. It has been a sweet experience, one that has brought about a peace to this momma's heart. It has been freeing and has let me relax more. I don't have to have all the answers. My daughter doesn't have to feel like she can only talk to me about things. I actually think it has made me a better mommy to my kids, thanks to the grace of God.

And it has been a great reminder that, this parenting thing, being a mommy, really has nothing to do with me, but instead is about 3 beautiful kids that God has given me to love and train up to love Him.

After all, it's not about me.


Lisa Maria said...

Tami, I know what it must have cost you to write this and share it. We all have this need to be validated for what we do and its hard for me, as well, when something shows up my 'failures' as a mom. I react just as you did.. say hurtful things, get angry etc. Thank you for sharing this. I have lots of 'food for thought' today.

Love & Blessings

not accidentally tuesday said...

These are tough moments in our walk as parents. Mine are all grown up and I still struggle with the what ifs of life. Hang in there and remember...God was perfect and satan still rebelled.

Christy said...

You put into words what many of us feel. Even though my children are little I already regret many things I've done or said out of pure exhaustion and not knowing how to handle a situation. It's painful coming to God after moments like that. I don't think learning ever stops in motherhood. Realizing "it's not about me" is one of the best things to come to grips with. You are a WONDERFUL mom who I look up to.

"Ima" said...

Lisa-yes, in some ways this was hard, because you never quite know what others will think when they read your "failures" and your brokenness. But, I know God has me on a journey and that He is teaching me. How I pray that I listen. Being a mommy is hard-something that can easily tap into my insecurities. Thanks for the encouragement-bloggy friends are so much fun:)

Christy-Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement. You are right-learning never stops, especially with motherhood. It is the never ending classroom. And I think you are a wonderful mom too:) Thanks for my hug today. Hopefully we can hang out soon and do a Chick-fil-A run. Dr. Pepper and Diet coke!

"Ima" said...

Not accidentally tuesday-I'm not sure which one of you sweet ladies left the comment (I'm not computer literate enough to know how to find out), but I wanted to say thank you. These are tough times in parenting, and they really challenge my motives and my heart. Am I going to be selfish, or am I going to do what is best for my kids? Hard things sometimes so thank you for the encouragement.

Sheila Moore said...

You have just told my story - my eldest daughter, me, the insecurities, the anger, the fear, the confusion, the fights, the desparation, the end of the rope and then the realization that it isn't about me - it is about her...and getting her the help and support she needs and being humble enough to admit that I was not supposed to be that help at the time...

wow, what a journey. And I, like you, felt a big sense of relief after she started counseling and not only because she learned skills I could not teach her (as I am still learning them myself) but mostly because I let go of the darn control!

Sometimes I complain about having the weight of the world on my shoulders and then if I listen closely enough, God reminds me that I am the one who puts it there :)

emily wierenga said...

oh friend, this was so beautiful and touching. as a daughter who received counseling when she was young, i want to say, it will be worth it... just keep doing your best and letting God heal your little one's tender heart. he is at work, always. i'm so glad you linked. xo

Joybird said...

This is a wonderful story. I love it when people share real life stories of muddling through, getting it wrong and then working with God to fix it. And I relate to your daughter. I'm in my 30's and it's only been in the last 4 years or so that I've been dealing with my own tendency to use anger to protect me from other more vulnerable and uncomfortable emotions. By releasing her to get counseling now you may be saving her years of heartache and relational damage. Besides being willing to work with others and ask for help is a vital (and godly) thing to model for all of your kids (and for me.)

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