Thursday, December 1, 2016

In One Fell Swoop

The counselor gently asks her, "Do you think you have a good relationship with your parents?"
The young girl sheepishly looks at her mom and quietly answers, "No, not really."

And in one fell swoop, the pieces of this mom's heart come tumbling do her tears.

The Unexpected Journey
When one dreams about being a parent, you know there will be challenges along the way. One would be naive if you thought parenthood would be a walk in the park. You throw out various scenarios to prep yourself, and in your mind you think, "I got this. WE got this." I mean, our parents survived, so we should be able to, correct? I always thought that if I could be just HALF the mom that my mom was to me, I'd be doing OK.

But then the unexpected happens. This young girl, my own daughter, who has always loved school comes home on the first day this fall in tears. Over the next few weeks and months those tears turn into emotional and physical outbursts of varying degree. She holds it in everywhere BUT at home. The thought of someone seeing her "exposed" and "real" terrifies her. The result is that home is her safe place to let her explosion of feelings emerge. The explosions leave remnants everywhere, whether emotional or physical in nature. Some days are good, but some days there are multiple episodes. Then the episodes end by her "crashing." In tears this young girl expresses her fear of not knowing where this behavior was coming from or why it was happening. Seeing my daughter at her weakest moments of despair has brought me to tears on multiple occasions.

We've often used the term "strong-willed" to describe her, and I don't think that has changed. In the beginning of this escalated behavior we reacted to this behavior with consequences and reactions that matched the behavior. Then the realization that this is more than a strong-willed child acting out becomes very apparent. A professional diagnosis is given and this mom (and dad) starts to see things in a new and very unexpected way. Our daughter is struggling internally with anxiety, anger, and fear. A mom watching her daughter try to cope with some mental health issues was not in the game plan for parenting. 

So, now each day brings the wonder of how it will unfold. Will there be a meltdown over a ponytail that doesn't look "just right?" Will our daughter writhe on the floor in anguish over which outfit to pick? Will there be shouts of frustration over a letter or number not being made perfectly? What if out of 10 assignments she gets only one question wrong, will that result in a night of fretting? Will every little look from her sister send her into a fit? What if our plans have to change....what reaction will there be? What if her candy cane breaks again? What if she gets redirected at school? What if a classmate says something she takes out of context? What if....what if....I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in my home. I have quickly realized that what is a molehill to me is in reality her MOUNTAIN. It is so...very....tiring. 

Bit by bit this mom's heart and inner strength starts to get chipped away. I try to hold strong. A mother's love continues through it all, even when my patience is holding on by the thinnest thread...when my mind can think of nothing else but how to help. It has become all-consuming.

The decision to get some help was made. So here we sat in a cozy office, feeling safe. I slowly felt myself coming unhinged listening to our daughter's thoughts. When the simple question mentioned above resulted in that answer, in one fell swoop this mom's heart most definitely caved in. Crushed. Smashed to smithereens.

At first I thought I was overreacting. Did she really know what she had been asked? Was she being serious with her answer? Moms know their children, their mannerisms, facial expressions, voice inflections, etc. and this was a time that I knew she was sincere. There have been many hurtful things said during these episodes, but this by far took the cake because it hit at the very core of parenting.

Suddenly flashbacks came rushing in, considering how reactions and things perceived all this time quite possibly looked to this young girl. When our impatience and frustration of not knowing what was happening could not be hidden in our voices. Did she think she wasn't loved? A parent's worst fear. I have feared this since the beginning, but now it has exploded ten-fold. These days I think about very little besides this.

The Comfort
There is help. I'm so very grateful we have found someone I trust wholeheartedly to walk us through this unexpected journey. I know it won't be easy, but we are looking forward to finding some trigger points and how we can help her cope.

Our faith....our hope...our comfort is in Him. What a comfort that my life and the life of my daughter was known since the beginning of time. That God knew that the best mom for this young girl would be the very one that stands by her now, loving her unconditionally. Loving her through the tantrums and fears, the writhing and foot stomping. Loving her through the anxious and fearful moments. Loving her and sharing with her that she has been forgiven.

What a comfort for this young girl that even though she worries about making sure things are "just right" with her world right now, that there is one who has made everything right. That while she may struggle for months, maybe years, and possibly a lifetime with some semblance of anxiety, her comfort and assurance comes from our Lord, the promise of salvation and the knowledge that our eternal home will have no fear.

So this mom starts on an unexpected journey. We will build up those pieces that have crumbled down. Step by step. Piece by piece. Hug by hug.

Simply daughter, you are loved.

I was contemplating various titles for this blog while I picked up some toys.  Jesse had constructed a rather tall Lego tower with the girls.
At the exact moment when "In One Fell Swoop" came into my mind, this tower came crashing down on one fell swoop. 


  1. Love and prayers! When things get tough my mom always reminds me that God gave me these exact children because I am exactly what they need! It's so hard to remember that when things don't "go the way they should". Thankful you have found someone you trust to help and support you through this!

    1. Thank you so much for reading this post. I truly appreciate everyone's kind word and their encouragement. Don't our moms always tell us the best things?? :) I always treasure her advice!

  2. Our moms probably went through same hardships and we stand here stronger supporting our families and children. That's exactly what your mom has taught you. Please, in this situation all it takes is the mom's eternal patience and help your daughter to get back with the broken pieces and build again. Some times in a hard way and some times soft. But you will do it and your daughter will get through this phase as she grows. It is always helpful to find professional help as after all we are humans too. You are being strong and that exactly your daughter will see eventually in you. She needs some time.Prayers for your daughter and am sure you all will sail through this phase of parenting and growing up.

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement!! While I'm confident it will all end up being OK, when you are "in the moment" it is hard to see the end.

    2. I know how it feels! Its tough in the moment. I face similar situations with my growing up daughter, who thinks she is all grown up but she is a long way yet to be a grown up! Motherhood is never an easy ship! :-)

  3. It will be a journey, and it will prove how much a parent's love can accomplish. My hopes and prayers are with you all.

    1. Thank you so much, Tim. Your words are greatly appreciated!

  4. Sarah - my heart goes out to you! When we are faithful in the work God gives us to do - He blesses us - however He sees best. All we are asked to do is to be Faithful. Faithful to God in all we do - including parenting! Today I leave you with these favorite verses of mine, that I also have often needed to read and reread and then reread again! Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
    They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”


  5. You are definitely not alone in this, Sarah! Thank you for the reminder that God chose us to be the parents our children need. It rarely feels that way--especially when we struggle with the added guilt of passing down those genes: I haven't been able to help myself, how can I help my child through this? Prayers and hugs.

  6. Hi Sarah.
    Thank you so much for sharing your huge life challenge right now with the world. You are so brave and your strength is strong even in what feels like your weakest moments because you have not lost your faith or your hope. It sounds like you have a wonderful support system in place with Jesse and your physician. Know that God is with you every moment of the day and don't ever feel bad for leaning on Him. He loves you. You are a good and loving mom. Don't doubt that for a second.
    Thinking about you and keeping you and the family in my prayers.