Presented by Kimberly Eckert, M.Sc. Registered Psychologist & Executive Director of Eckert Psychology & Education Centre
I have the rare privilege of walking alongside some amazing parents. Before your mind convinces you to believe I mean perfect parents, let me stop you. They are amazing parents because of their tenacious spirit and quest for knowledge – they fail and dust themselves off and try again. With this effort, they are seeing changes…they are growing and so are their children. One such parent passed along some writing she did one day after a particularly daunting experience with one of her children. It echoed so much of what I hear other parents tell me and what I myself as a parent have wrestled with. She has graciously agreed to share her story with all of us – loving, flawed parents/caregivers who are striving to be “good enough” as we raise our precious, yet at times perplexing, children. Please join me in reading a conversation this mother had with Heaven’s Compliant Department. Be encouraged – we are all in this together.
Uuummmm……Hello…….. Excuse me……… Are you there? I’m sorry to interrupt, but I am having some problems with the job that you assigned me.
Ohhhh? The job I assigned you? What is the nature of your problem?
Well, that’s just it; the nature of my problems keeps shifting. (Can you say puberty?) One minute I am the captain of the ship, and the next I have slipped and fallen overboard, and am barely able to stay afloat.
My dear, what are you talking about?! I don’t recall giving you a job on a ship. And if I did, surely I would have given you a life jacket.
A life-jacket – a jacket to protect me from life, what a good idea; do they work on land? Oh, never mind. The problem is, I think I am under-qualified for the job.
Under-qualified? I don’t think there were any qualifications listed for your particular assignment.
Exactly. You completely underestimated what it would take to do this job. If I might speak frankly, I think you called me to this job without really looking at my particular skill-set.
So you are saying that I made a mistake?
Oh, I am so glad you brought that up.
Oh. Well, maybe you’d had a bad night, I don’t know! This is harder than anything I have done so far!
You must realize that I have never made a mistake.
Sure, but hey…it happens. Right?
Not to me.
Furthermore, if I remember correctly…… let’s see here…….. ah, yes…….. this particular assignment WAS an answer to a prayer.
A prayer? Yes, I suppose it was. Hmmm, this is awkward. Okay, so let’s not focus on the past, you did your best right?
One can only hope. So, tell me what’s going on?
(Like you don’t know already.) Well, my 9-year-old daughter seems to have jitterbugs coursing through her body. I don’t really know how to manage them.
I’ve never heard of a jitter bug – and I did create the world after all. What are you talking about?
It’s just an expression. Practically speaking, it looks like this: when she is nervous or stressed, she can climb on to the top of my head faster than an angel can save a life; she uses her limbs to strike out faster than a frog catches prey on its tongue; she sticks to an idea with such tenacity that even Superman could not pry her off of it!! And that is not all; sleep eludes her wired body until we are both exhausted to tears.
Yes, this I have seen. Be mindful: It is more than what you can see.
With this particular child, in these moments, you simply need to listen.
You’re kidding right?
Has anyone ever described me as a kidder?
Well, no – but ….
There are no buts, simply listen, be present without reacting, affirm without teaching.
Your teacher is before you… listen.
My ... tu-tu-tu-teacher?
Yes, of course. Why do you think this child was gifted to you? You need someone who will help you develop your skill of listening.
MY. SKILL. OF. LISTENING. I am a good listener!
Listening is like the ointment for a wound, the hand that heals, and the backbone in a relationship. Surely you have learned something from reading that Stephen Covey book: Seek first to understand. Much of what is truly heard requires no response, only a loving nod, an affirmation or a gentle touch. To listen requires far more of you than talking. The gap between people widens when only talking occurs. With the focus on talking, one hears mostly his or her words and thoughts. But when the focus is on listening, one learns about the desires of another; the space between the two shortens.
It sounds good, but what about my other responsibilities? Everyone has high needs! I can’t cope with it all!
You may have heard the saying, God never gives you more than you can handle, well I started that saying, so that you would know that you do have everything you need within you, and around you, to cope – and even thrive!
But, I have taken all the “Club Mom” parenting seminars TWICE and still, there are times when I feel overwhelmed. Everybody (in our family) has special needs, and there are times when I just want ordinary – easy street, ya know?
Humans are wonderfully made and therefore each and every one of you is special. There are no two alike. That is why it feels overwhelming; each individual in your family has unique wishes, wants and needs. There is no shoe made that will fit each and every one of you. You will need to step out of your comfortable Birkenstocks in order to understand where your child, or husband, is standing and how they are feeling in that moment.
But it is so hard. I don’t think I can do it. What if I fail?
Fail! What if you don’t fail? You must make mistakes to see disharmony is part of harmony. They do not exist without each other. Just as the earth’s rotation gives us sunlight and darkness, warm and cool, awake and asleep – your mistakes and your achievements are the journey, one providing balance for the other.
I see. . . . . . .
You know, there are times when I am so tired from the barrage of wishes, wants and needs, not to mention tasks and chores, that I feel like I can’t put my shoes on and take another step.
Of course, my child, you are human, made with limitations. Accept it.
In those moments sit down, take a breath, light a candle and know that I am right there holding you up.
What message can I send you every day, so that you will know that in every moment, despite all circumstances, you are enough?
I think…….. I think …….. gosh, well, I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. When I wake up and open my eyes send me the message that whatever the day has in store, I am equipped to handle it, and I am good enough.
You got it. And I’ll ask you to do one thing for Me, for yourself.
Take your right hand and put it on your left shoulder, take your left hand and put it on your right shoulder, take your eyes and turn them to the heavens – give yourself a squeeze because you are loved.
Written by a “good enough” mother