In the past three weeks, I’ve crossed paths with three moms who don’t know each other but have everything in common.
They are living with a child professionally diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
From what I know, in short, life is hell. Every. Single. Day.
Depending on the tween/ teen’s age, they explode in anger over anything at any time. They shatter glass, or mirrors in their rages. They throw food, shoes, or anything near them. They physically attack parents.
Sometimes drugs are involved. Sometimes the police are called. Group homes, therapy, medication, no medication, change in diet, in friends, in lifestyle, in anything – no change.
The moms are either in tears as they talk or have no more tears to cry. Their parenting skills work for their other children, and not the one they most wish they could reach.
In public, they never know what will happen next. So, they are often not in public if possible with these children. And they watch other moms with their kids – happy-ish, calm- ish, and talking to each other.
The only thing that makes their situation worse is either others judging them for not disciplining their kids, or telling them to try a gluten free diet.
So what can we do?
Can we commit to just one day where we tell a mom she’s doing a great job? Tell her we’ve all been there to some degree. To hang in there.
Can we just not talk about each other? I think if we were all honest about the struggles we face, we would realize we are not alone.
And, if we find ourselves privileged to hear a mom’s true story – the one where the kids are melting down at 4:45pm and all she wants is to lock herself in the bathroom and someone to bring pizza – can we just not tell her how to fix it? Just once? Just say to her, “I so get that. I’m so sorry.”
Yes there are fixes to be had, ideas to be shared, ways to make life better for all of us – but here’s the litmus test whether we should share or not – Did they ask for help?
The moms I’ve talked to are not asking for help. They know their journey. They’ve walked in shoes I will never understand. They would give their lives for their children to be made completely well and the miracle hasn’t been given to them.
So they ask for something else.
They are asking for a brief moment to not be alone. To not be judged.
To be seen, and heard, and loved.
Now can we stop judging other moms and just be vigilant to seize the opportunity to love the mom who has a part of her still missing? Because in some way, we all have pieces missing and still deserve love.
With pieces missing,
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