Note from Faye: This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst. Copies of that book are readily available from many sources. While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.
Every mother alive who loves her children has at one point or another asked herself, “Am I messing up my kids?” Motherhood is tough. It isn’t for the weak hearted. It can fill you with love and pride in one moment and panic and uncertainty the next.
In Chapter One of the book written by Lysa TerKeurst above she relates how she has taken her 14-month old daughter to a local store for a little shopping. Mom is prepared. Bottles. Snacks. Toys. What she didn’t plan on and couldn’t foresee is her daughter’s fascination with manuals behind the cash register that could not be shaken. Mom ended up leaving the store and later crying in a bathtub. “I am so completely spent. I have nothing left to give. What’s wrong with me? I am so afraid I am going to be a complete failure as a mother. Lord, am I going to mess up my kids?”
Two things stood out for me here. One, sometimes no matter how well prepared we are our kids are going to be focused on anything but what we have as plan A, B, C or Z. Part of being a child is the inability to yet control their emotions, their wants, and their will power. That’s why they need parents, to teach them these things. Two, we’ve all had that “Am I messing up my kids?” moment.
Our now eleven then four year old daughter (who we adopted) came to live with us full time just after her fourth birthday. My first “Am I messing up my child” meltdown occurred following another frustrating and fruitless custody hearing. By then the biological mother had moved out of our home. The biological father could not be located. Who held legal custody of Kiana was unclear as no one had complete paperwork and the Tennessee courts and Department of Human Services were not cooperative. We had been unsuccessful in enrolling Kiana in Medicaid or AllKids and without legal custody couldn’t add her to our health insurance coverage at work. As my husband and I were petitioning the court here for custody the red tape, legal hoops and what often seemed ridiculous demands upon us were frustrating. We left the court that day no further along than what we had been when we went in. Kiana was tired and hungry and she was whiny. “Mama,” she asked from her car seat properly installed in our car, “I thought you were going to take care of me!”
Only a few weeks after Kiana had moved in she’d climbed into my lap and asked me if I would promise to always take care of her. I’d promised to always do my best to. Her four year old heart heard, “Yes I will.” That day’s court appearance didn’t make it seem to be something I could do. So as we pulled through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Happy Meal with chocolate milk tears were streaming down my face. Was I going to be a failure as a mother? Were we going to mess up this precious child’s life even more than it already was?
The author recovered from her doubt ridden moment. I recovered from mine. Though both events were radically different in their reasons for occurring they held one thing in common. Both the author and I turned to God with our fears and learned to keep our Bibles handy and our hearts open.
Kiana’s adoption has been settled since 2006 and as a woefully incomplete and totally imperfect Mom I love motherhood nonetheless. Like the author, I do consider motherhood a calling and I do recognize that decisions Kiana’s dad and I are making now will shape her morally, ethically, emotionally and physically long past Kiana to her great-great-grandchildren.
Refresh Your Soul:
On pages 14-15 are devotional activities and commentary based on Psalm 23:3 and I Peter 1:5-7. As you complete these open your heart to what God is encouraging you to obtain from this Bible study. Share with the group as you feel lead.
And anyone wishing to share their “am I messing up my kid” meltdown story please feel free to do so knowing WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE!
Music to help enrich you suggestion: “Generations” by Sara Groves from her CD Conversations released in 2001. “Remind me of this with every decision generations will reap what I sow I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I may never know…”