Can I share with you one of my biggest struggles? It’s patience. Having patience both with my children, but even more so with myself. I see my own faults and inadequacies when I am caring for my children with disabilities, magnified and enhanced. It’s as if I had been watching black and white TV for years. Then someone gave me a color TV. My eyes were opened and I saw colors and details I never noticed before. Perhaps this is a universal struggle for all parents. My kids struggle with Executive Functioning Skills, and require an extra ordinary amount of direction for simple tasks. It requires patience; lots of patience. They can achieve just about anything with patience and direction from me. Where the struggle comes in is most often with myself.
The things that go through my mind at times make me thankful that the interior life is strictly between God and us as individuals. (Unless we feel a need for spiritual direction, which I highly recommend!)
Why can’t you move faster, child?
Why must I tell you time and time again?
We’ve done this same thing everyday, in the same way, since your babyhood, and yet you still can’t do it one single day with out my direction? I am so tired, my child. I just need to rest a bit.
And then I see myself in the mirror of their eyes, in the blank expression, in the tears of frustration. I hear it in their voices when they tell me, “Mom, the alarm went off, it’s time for xyz. You need to come NOW.” I get annoyed with the sameness, the routine, the need for direction. It’s in our nature to expect that at a certain age our child will begin to self direct. But this isn’t the case always, and I know that this patience is a need that may go on for years, and even into adulthood. It becomes a time for me to look back at myself and see where I need to grow in order to love better.
Where is my patience? Is God our Father not infinitely patient with my inadequate self? Surely I can emulate some of his patience towards my sweet children. I rush to the foot of the Cross and beg for Mercy on my own inadequacy. He who gave them to me will lead me, if I rely on His Grace.
The thing that really strikes me in these moments is an experience that I have pretty regularly. Being the sole caregiver can be exhausting at times. About once a month, if I am not caring for myself properly, I will feel my patience start to wane and eventually fly out the window. I become short tempered, and easily irritated. My consideration for a child’s needs turns to feeling that their needs are a burden that I care not to deal with. First I run to the Cross, and then I embrace that child. Literally, embracing that child in the most loving manner I can possibly manage so that they feel loved and cared for, purposefully practicing patience and love in that moment and listening with a heart open to what they need. I call to mind how Mother Teresa would embrace and care for those on the street. She wrote one time about how she often did not feel like she wanted to care for someone, but she was the hands of Jesus in that moment. Sometimes, what I’m feeling is absolute repulsion at having to do a certain act once again, but my practice is to do that action with an over abundance of love and compassion, a smile, and gentlest words. I may even feel tears sting my eyes as I reach out to embrace someone in that moment because I am tired and it’s the last thing I want to be doing. “I’m going to embrace You in my child, Jesus,” is my prayer. I turn my frustration and lack of patience into what I would want for myself in that moment, and shower them in acts of love. And something miraculous happens. My irritation, frustration, and lack of patience is transformed. So often, it seems to magically transform into truly feeling love toward my child and being able to embrace those moments with grace.
He gives me a reprieve when I embrace Him in those moments of struggle.
It’s a practice in accepting Grace, for us to allow our brokenness to bring us closer to Jesus. He works mightily in those moments when we allow our weakness and our own inadequacies to become something as an offering to Him to help us grow and change and become for those around us a tool for his mercy.
Jesus, work through my weaknesses to help me to serve my children well. Transform my embrace toward my children into the loving kindness that you give to us as our Father so that they may receive from me what you want for them. Help me to be patient both with myself and with them. Amen.