I have a kid with special needs. The invisible kind. Invisible until, of course it becomes visible. Like today. Today, his struggles were brought to the surface; strikingly visible and in your face.
My phone rang during a mid-afternoon meeting. I looked down at the incoming call and, as the school name flashed across my screen, I held my breath. There have been a regular pattern of calls from the school for 5 years now, keeping me informed of events that triggered my son to act out impulsively, lack control, and, often, require discipline, redirection, or added support. And so I held my breath. It just doesn’t get easier. But my job, as his Mom, remains the same…to love him.
And I do. Oh, how I love this child. A broken, imperfect little being struggling with not-so-little issues. As I placed my meeting on mute and talked to the vice-principal, phone lifted to my other ear, I was told that there was a physical altercation. Both students were fine, but I needed to pick Ethan up. As I pressed for more details it was clear my child was at “fault” and I’d learn more when I got there. I exited my conference call, ran across the office building to my husband, and together we piled into the car and raced to the school.
I’m not gonna lie. As I drove I went to a place of “I don’t need this right now” and “I have enough on my plate”. Then I remembered a good friend telling me that “we need not pray that God ‘fixes’ our children, but rather that we grow to be the parents our imperfect children need”. Shot. To. The. Heart.
In that instant my heart was restored. Momma bear was back in the game and was pressing in. We walked through the front doors and into the vice principal’s office to find Ethan sunken onto the floor, tears rolling down his cheeks. And I embraced him. I said aloud, “I love you” and I held him tight. The details of the situation didn’t matter. My child mattered. MATTERS. Just like the child he had the altercation with matters. And they, both, are so deserving our love.
My son was suspended for two days. Physical aggression is not tolerated and I support that policy. It’s as it should be and in place for the safety of all.
And for this child, this sheep, I pray. My son, wherever you may wander, I will pursue your heart, I will choose love when my instincts want to first choose anger. I will not let temporary disappointment rob me of the joy that is being your mother; the joy that is YOU.
My Ethan. I know you hurt. I know you suffer. And I know that He will overcome the grip. I declare victory over mental illness in His Mighty Name.
And until then…you’re grounded. Because, well, that too is love.