Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When Parents Fail Their Children

Here's one from the archives because yesterday was a bad day and I needed the reminder.

Meaghan came to me yesterday all red-eyed and puffy-faced.  She was hurt because I had brushed her aside instead of helping her with her phonics lesson.  The thing is, I didn't really hear her say she needed help because I was preparing my Catechism lesson.  I was knee-deep in worksheets about the Old Testament Judges not diphthongs and vowel pairings.  Her reaction to my "neglect" threw me because it was so emotionally intense and unexpected.  I listened as she told me she was hurt, acknowledged what she said, and hugged her as I apologized. She wiped her tears away with her sleeve, told me it was OK, and skipped away to finish her school work.

I was happy Meaghan felt so comfortable sharing her feelings with me.  Despite me tendency towards impatience and anger, my kids don't seem afraid to tell me how and why they feel certain ways, which I know is a good thing.  But I also admit to feeling slightly annoyed by her honest critique.  I'm trying to be the best mom I know how to be and I often, as is obvious in this case, fall short and hurt my kids. I don't want to wound anyone, least of all my children, but sometimes it just happens that way. I'm human and very imperfect.

Before she went to sleep, and after I wasn't feeling so wounded myself, I called Meaghan downstairs to talk.  She flopped next to me on the couch, smelling fresh and clean from her bath, and I put my arm around her.

"You know how your feelings were hurt earlier because I didn't pay attention to you when you needed me?" I asked.

She nodded her head.  I could smell the flower scented shampoo she used in her hair.

"Meaghan, even though I love you and I'm trying really hard to be a good mom, I'm going to fail you sometimes.  I'm going to disappoint you because I'm not perfect," I said.

"I know, Mom," she replied with a smile, "nobody is perfect."

"That doesn't mean when I mess up--like I did when you were doing your phonics--that I'm not going to try to do better, it doesn't mean I'm not going to try to give you what you need, when you need it.  I will always try, Meaghan, I will, but I'm not superwoman.  Sometimes, I'm going to hurt you."

She nodded her head again, a sad, little smile painted on her face.

"But you're in luck because God did give you a perfect parent, Meaghan.  Him.  He's your perfect Father, He's your perfect friend, and He will never fail you--even when I do."

She looked up at me, searching my eyes for what these words meant.

"You can always tell Him when people hurt you or when I hurt you.  God always wants to know, even if others can't or won't listen."

"Do you understand?"

She wrapped her arms around me and laid her face on my shoulder.

"I understand, " she said softly.

I sat with her for a long time, her arms wrapped tightly around me, and I prayed the Lord would help her to learn what most never figure out:  that people fail but God never does.

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