I feel like a failure. A terrible teacher. A bad mother. Or maybe just a lazy one. It’s been thirteen years and I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, don’t feel like I’ve taught enough, directed enough, prayed enough or prepared enough. I feel like I’ve been asleep on the job, like I’ve slacked off. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been doing everything I can but it’s just coming up short.
Survival. If you had to label my parenting style, that would probably be it. Some people tell me they think I have it all together, and it takes all of me not to laugh out loud because it’s so far from the truth. For the last thirteen years, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve been grasping at straws. I’ve tried different things. Mostly I’ve just tried to survive. Sink or swim, sink or swim.
The honest truth? I’ve not done either. I’ve just been treading water for so long, trying to keep my head above the waves. I’ve not gone anywhere. For the last thirteen years, I’ve just thrashed around in one spot.
Those people who tell me I look like I have it all together didn’t see my tears when my sweet, kind hearted son was screaming and throwing chairs in his kindergarten class. They didn’t feel my heart break when he was labeled a violent child in grade three and as such spent the year in isolation. They didn’t see me sobbing on the floor when I got a phone call that he’d attempted to choke an educational assistant in grade six. They don’t see those storms from our past, or the one that is darkening the skies on our horizon.
I’ve spent these years fighting for them both. Meetings, phone calls, doctors appointments. Scheduling therapy, mentoring, respite, check ups. Keeping on top of medication, changes in appetite, managing behaviour. Because they can’t do it themselves. Because they need me. Because I’m Mom.
And I’m so tired. Mentally drained. Emotionally exhausted. Weary. So I just keep treading water. Trying to survive, trying not to sink. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to swim. But I pray that they will get to. My two sweet loves, these little hearts that hold mine.
I don’t have long now. Time is slipping away faster than I’d ever imagined. Will all that I have done be enough? Sometimes the very thought of days disappearing and months fading away has me gasping for air. Have I done all I can do? Have I spent this time well?
No. And the answer breaks my heart even more. And when I truly stop to think about the overwhelming days to come, I feel myself sinking.
But then Someone grabs me and pulls me to the surface. I remember we don’t have to do this all alone.
Today, as I start sinking, I hear a song singing me to the surface.
We have found our hope
We have found our peace
We have found our rest
In the One who loves
He will light the way
He will lead us Home
As we offer all
to the One who saves Us
His love endures
Forever His love endures
Forever His love endures
Forever and ever
(The One Who Saves, Hillsong 2009)
And I remember that when fear is crippling me, I just have to lift my eyes. I just have to look to the One who saves us. Because even though it sometimes feels like we are drowning, we will never drown because He is holding us up, encircling us with His love and care. Like a lifesaver firmly wrapped around our middle.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s comforting to us, to quiet ourselves and think about. But it’s really a call to action. For me, my boys, for you. To put it bluntly, it’s saying SNAP OUT OF IT! Wake up! Stop stressing about the unknown! Look at who your God is and be amazed. Praise Him for what He has done in your life! Why are you worrying about the things to come? You know who I am! You know what I can do! Enough of this!
I know the days are slipping. The future is uncertain, terrifyingly looming overhead. Like those past heart aches from years of transition, another is coming. But I need to remember who my God is, and what He can do.
All this time, I’ve been treading water. Wasting energy, draining resources, pushing myself to do everything and then some. When all I really needed to do was stop, rest and focus on Him. If only I’d stopped sooner, I’d have seen He was holding me this whole time. ❤️
4 thoughts on “Treading Water”
Beautiful & raw. “Look at the birds…” Matt 6:26-27 keeps me going, in my situation. Love your honest, skillful writing. Sending prayers…
I can identify with this post, sister. When I look back on the years my children were growing up, I felt so inadequate. Yet the truth is found in your last paragraph. Resting, focusing on Jesus – that’s what pleases the Lord. When we do that, we remember the weight of our burdens is on His shoulders, not just ours, as we take up His yoke and walk with Him.
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I haven’t been through all of the same things— but similar enough to understand your feelings! This is a stunningly transparent and beautiful post— ending with such hope!
I’ve been through SO MANY of the same scenarios with my son. I know these emotions you speak of from a very personal space! I can say it gets easier in ways, and harder in ways. My son is now 23 and as a “high functioning” adult, we knows there’s something different, but doesn’t WANT to be different. And he struggles. And I struggle right with him. We have our one hope in Jesus, praise God, and in holding one another up to Him ❤ Thank you for sharing, and for being real. I think more people need that.