What could I say to make her understand our pain? “You KNEW about his challenges,” I sobbed. “I told you...How could you treat us this way?”
“It is YOUR fault, she hollered, pointing her finger at me.Your son isn’t the problem. It’s you! You shouldn’t have brought your baby.”
"My fault," I thought. There was that pain again. So deep. The foot of a heel, pressing into my chest. Stomping me down.
We were attending this music class six weeks after the birth of my third child, and six weeks after T had been kicked out of preschool. Three years after T fought for his life during open heart surgery and two years after his arrhythmia treatment. One year after he was found to have sensory processing disorder, among other challenges. Three days after our new nanny quit and I hadn’t slept more than a few hours the night before.... We needed parents, children, and educators. We needed community. I was searching for a place to just BE.
I drove away with a deep, burning, gushing pain rolling around in my stomach. My fault.
My son is now seven, and I am used to rejection. Being at the other end of a finger or under a heel. The fingers have belonged to preschool teachers, an elementary school counselor, a pastor, relatives and moms in every place imaginable. I have been beside my son. I have been blamed. I have felt my cheeks burn, the tears well up-- I have felt the shame.
“It is my fault.” I feel it everywhere I go. Can you imagine how he feels?
No matter how educated I become, or how many discipline and treatment strategies I try. No matter how many solutions I pursue to help my son. No matter how many therapists support me, no matter how closely I follow and pray to know God better-- I still blame myself for my son’s challenges and his exclusion. And I’m pretty sure that other moms, especially special needs moms, know what I’m talking about. If I could just be a better, smarter, more patient, more healthy, more EVERYTHING mom, then my son would be OK.
And, it turns out, lots of other people agree with me. I should be better.
But where is the good news?
When my face is shoved into the dirt enough times, when my chest aches with the isolation-- I (strangely) attach to something more powerful, nourishing and richer than I ever imagined. (I wonder if I could find it if I weren’t feeling so much pain?) God is bigger than any pointing fingers, any inequality, any cruel people, any blame. All God wants from me, is the me whom he made. The me who I am; vastly imperfect, fully worthy of blame, but wanting forgiveness. He holds me steady, and so I grow. When I attach to God, I shed my pride and the “old me” dies-- I have nothing to prove or defend. I can understand the people who point fingers at me more clearly-- I can see that they are just like me. Confused by this world’s lopsided, broken nature, and needing someone to blame besides themselves.
Let me be clear-- when the cleat is shoved into my chest (like it was this week), and I am blamed again for all of my child’s, actually all of my family’s, struggles... well I hurt in a way that is almost unbearable. But after the pain, I have finally learned to give thanks to God. The people who hurt me have pointed the way to Him. The flying rocks have shown me which path is NOT for me. I am blessed for the beautiful life I have been given.
I pray that my small story, my dirt, and the gifts that God has given me might be used as an instrument to touch someone in a way that ends the blame and the hurt. I pray for my own heart to be opened enough to allow a forgiving God to enter in...A heart that doesn’t rush to blame. Because this spring, I plan to grow.
Thank God for new seasons.