How to Deal When Your Child Prays for a Normal Parent
September 19, 2016 | Posted in: Parenting and Chronic Illness
It’s been a hard week, and yet, it’s only half way through. You know those kinds of weeks, right? Where each morning you wake up and think, “Today, has to be Friday, right?” But somewhere someone is replaying the same dreadful Tuesday over and over again like a modern-day groundhog’s day.
For me, a major culprit has been a particularly gruesome RA flare. My knuckles have swollen twice their size (so quickly I didn’t have a chance to remove my wedding rings) and the fatigue has felt more like being hit by a bus repeatedly than anything which could be compared to “tired.”
Everything on my “to-do” list has been moved to my “to-don’t” list, and the mere act of getting my daughter to and from preschool has been nothing short of Herculean.
Today, I arrived at pick-up in my full on flare uniform- greasy hair, yoga pants, t-shirt, joint friendly shoes and a grimace. My daughter’s teacher gently pulled me aside, which was a first. Her behavior has never been a problem before. I braced myself for news of a playground squabble or a rebuke for not returning the folder full of homework due. Instead, the teacher leaned in close and said, “I didn’t know you had Lyme Disease. I’ll be praying for you!”
I confess I’m still adjusting to this. It’s uncomfortable uncharted territory for me- this space where my story is no longer mine alone to tell and yet it is the story of the intimate details of my health, my body. I’m still learning how to approach these moments where my story has been told not by me, not because I shared it on the Internet in hopes of encouraging others, but because it was also someone’s else’s to tell. Someone told the story of how their wife, their mom, their friend is sick. I have no control of this story, over whether it’s told accurately or judiciously, in safety or on a whim.
The teacher went on to explain that my daughter said I was often sick and seemed concerned. I explained my complex medical issues and thanked her for her concern and willingness to pray.
When my daughter and I reached the car, she told me about what a great day she’d had, including the part about requesting prayer on my behalf. She said, “ I wanted to pray for you because I wanted you to get better. I wanted you to not be in the bed all the time and to be able to do more things with me like a normal Mom!” Click To TweetI thought perhaps someone had snuck into the car while I wasn’t looking and this invisible person was responsible for the punch in the gut sensation I was feeling. But as I searched the car with my eyes, I saw it was just my daughter and I. She went on to explain that I needed to drink more water because water makes you healthy. If I drank more water, I could stop getting all of these diseases!
It seemed a bit ironic to me, in a tragic way that we were actually waiting for a friend to arrive and pick Avery up so I could go home and rest. We talked while waiting and once my friend arrived, Avery was thrilled. She transferred cars and gave me a little wave, her face bright and filled with anticipation for her afternoon adventures.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but think about the picture into the mind of my four-year-old I’d just been given. I’d always wondered about her fascination with Lyme Disease. Why must she insist on telling every single stranger we meet about how her Mommy has Lyme Disease and does an infusion every day? Why did she never mention any of my other medical complexities? What was the deal with her obsession with the water drinking?
Finally, I understood. All this time, she’d been enlisting help, prayer partners. In her four-year-old mind, there was a single obstacle standing between her and the Mom she wanted and felt she needed–Lyme Disease. Nightly, she prayed it away and yet, nothing was improving. She was telling more people so they, too, could pray.
And she wasn’t just angry about the water. She was angry with me. She felt like if I would drink more water I could be the mom she needed me to be! She’s four. She doesn’t understand my bladder or interstitial cystitis, how it’s so angered by water or how I have to find other ways to hydrate.
I think about my brother coming to me the night before his first chemo treatments and telling me he doesn’t want his hair to fall out. He knows it’s silly. He could die. But this is the thing he wants. Will I pray with him? So, desperately I pray. There is little I can offer in this season, so I pray with all of my might. And yet, just weeks later, the first few strands begin to shed themselves. He handles it like a champ. I stand behind him in the bathroom as he shaves the remainder. I cry myself to sleep that night. Why didn’t God answer my prayers?
It would be years before God and I could agree to disagree on how he handled all that occurred with my brother. How do I walk a four-year –old through this? How do I explain that God’s timing and ways, his answered prayers don’t always look the way we expected?
How do I explain to her that while my heart breaks for her pain and disappointment, I am thankful I can voice for the voiceless?
The answers to many of these questions came in a most unexpected manner, just days later.
My big kid was finally fever-free after a bout with the flu, and I knew we were running out of time for alterations with homecoming quickly approaching. So, I put a mask on him, and we made a break for it. (I take compromising other people’s immune systems quite seriously)
As we neared the register with our final purchases, the gentleman who’d been assisting us asked if when they pressed the suit, we’d like them to add a white silk cloth to the front jacket pocket. He showed us how it would look with and without. Hayden said he liked it better with. I preferred it without. However, as he would be wearing the suit and not me, I said his vote won. So we agreed yes, please add the white cloth.
The gentleman behind the counter shook his head and said, “She’s such a good Mom. Your vote always counts. She’s always putting your voice out there to be heard. Don’t ever forget those things man. Put those things in your pocket and remember back on them. Remember days like today.”
As this man heaped his praise upon me, my heart lapped it up. His kind words also reminded me what a gift days like this were. Normal days. Special days. They were a treasure. And maybe we wouldn’t have as many as Avery would like. And let’s be honest, we certainly don’t have as many as I would like. But we do have some. Those days are treasures to be placed in our pocket and remembered back on. They are answered prayers and anchors for the windiest of days.
When Avery feels she sinking in a sea of unanswered prayers and cries for a “normal mom” I can draw her back to her pocket full of treasures. I can remind of her the days we played outside until sunset, played ponies on the bed, went to the zoo, dressed up like Anna and Elsa.
I don’t suppose it’s so much different than how any of us make it through the hard, pain-filled days. My pocket full of treasures looks more like an album on my phone filled with some of my favorite memories, a reminder that there are good days.I can’t answer the question of why one person’s pocket of treasures is fuller than another’s. Click To Tweet I can only tell you that I am infinitely thankful for mine. And I pray Avery will grow up to feel the same.