Monday, August 26, 2013

When you check every box

Massie Family-Massie Family-0018

This morning we had our first OT ( Occupational Therapy) appointment for our youngest daughter. Of course with a first appointment comes with it a file of papers to complete. Asking questions such as what her birthdate and insurance coverage was. It then turned to more pressing questions such as what was my diet like while I was pregnant. Did she lift her head at the appropriate developmental stage? What prenatal testing did I go through? What was her weight, her Apgar score and other things this mommy brain could hardly remember? By the fourth child I am lucky I remember her name much less to actually keep track of anything in a baby book.

Towards the end of the questions they asked if there was any additional information about “the mother” that they needed to know. I sat staring at the question. Wrestling with my thoughts whether the truth at this moment was something I could look over. Whether or not I could suggest something but not quite say it. After what seemed endless I wrote these words- “ After Emerson was born I suffered from postpartum depression and did not attach to her for quite a long time” I wanted to add…”I’m sorry, I blame myself for all of this”. Instead I signed at the bottom and left it at that.

This morning at the office I was handed more questionnaires, specifically about where she is right now. Asking questions about her social skills, her auditory and sensory processing and other issues that interfere with her learning and being six. As I read and began to answer the questions I realized how many boxes I had checked “frequently”. For a brief moment it was a sigh of relief that perhaps someone understood the issues that had never been given a name. That she finally would be given a language we could all understand. Yet as I sat there with tears streaming down my face another voice was going through my head…” This is your fault”;” You should have gotten her help years ago”. “It is your depression that did this”.” She doesn’t deserve this.”

Believe me I have enough guilt in my heart I didn’t need to carry anymore.

I sit now with Truth in front of me. Trying to remind myself that the words are not good, and pure and holy do not come from God. And all I can utter is “Jesus please.”

I fully comprehend that this is only the beginning of our journey with her. And to many of you this seems so minuscule. But for today. For where we are. I ask for grace.


Sue Rhoads said...

Oh, Sheli, I have to tell you I have never read your blog (or anyone's blog) before. But there was just something that compelled me to do so this morning. I can so relate to you. Please congratulate yourself for seeking help for your dear daughter. Blaming yourself, and feeling overwhelmed with guilt will help neither her nor you. I don't know how this works, i.e. if my post will be public, so I will only say that I have been where you are...and I didn't get help. Not because I didn't ask, but most likely because I didn't know what to ask. When I see some of the OT questionnaires at work, I want to kick myself for not being a stronger advocate for my son. And yes, I feel guilty every day, and wonder what might have been. Fortunately, he grew to be a wonderful, sensitive man despite many obstacles, but it wasn't easy for him, and for this, I will always blame myself. You have gotten help for your daughter, so let the guilt go. Good luck to you.

Rebecca Trotter said...

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. For years I made myself say that each and every time I felt guilty and inadequate. It took ages, but now I know it in my toes.

On the way, I came to understand a hard, uncomfortable truth. My kids have their own path to walk and it's going to be hard for them, just like it's been for me. (Well - hopefully not quite that hard!) We feel like we have failed our kids when we can't protect them from struggle and suffering. And when (not if) some portion of their struggle grows out of our own imperfections and struggles, we absolutely condemn ourselves. But God is a perfect parent and he allows us to walk through all manner of suffering and struggle. No doubt it hurts him as much as it hurts us, but that doesn't mean he smoothes our paths and lifts our burdens. He walks with us, not for us. And that's our model as parents of other struggling human beings. Whatever the cause of your daughter's struggles, they are part of her own path. Rather than bearing guilt, consider that God saw fit to allow you to be the one to walk with your daughter in her struggles.