Finding hope when you’re lost in the pain of regret
School began last week, and I didn’t cry as I thought I would as I watched my son make his way to his first day in first grade.
It’s a special day here in Czechia where parents, grandparents and other relatives accompany the first grader. It’s a sweet sight to see eager, innocent faces take their place in the classroom. Our little guy found a seat next to his best pal from preschool.
As I watched my son walk away from me carrying his big boy backpack, I tried to think of the good times we’d spent together. He’s my third one; the last one I will be going through this process with. I’ve tried hard not to repeat the painful regrets that wrecked me when my first one went off to school.
That was five years ago. I remember crumbling to my knees next to the arm chair and pleading with God to change me. Regret eats away at your soul and leaves your heart with wounds that only leads to you further repeating the cycle.
I wished changing myself could have been easier … something that could be done in 30 days ….something like we see in TV sitcoms, where the character changes by the time the episode ends.
The painful regret that sent me to my knees five years ago were the lost times … the lost opportunities I had to play with my daughter and really enjoy her as a preschooler. It’s not that I hadn’t, but not as much as I could have. I regretted sitting behind the laptop rejecting one of her many requests to play with a “Not now, Sweetpea.”
But the time to play seldom came. There was always something else to do. It didn’t help that “playing” doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t have any memories of my Mom playing with me, and while that is a plausible excuse, it didn’t make it right.
I was desperate to find help to stop the painful cycle — where after regret, I’d shame myself for not being the mom who can easily stoop down and play with her children. I honestly believed that doing this would somehow motivate me to be a better mom. But instead it pushed me further into a black hole of pain and even more regret.
It’s hard to enjoy life and the gifts you’ve been given when you’re burdened by the pain that numbs your heart.
I found help in the form of counselor and other Christian friends who helped me to see that my inability to play with my children was just a symptom of deeper issues that popped to surface when my children came along … it wasn’t that I just felt inadequate as a mom but as a person.
I hadn’t fully received in my heart what my Heavenly Father was saying – Hulda, you’re enough. I made you enough when I paid the price at Calvary. You don’t have to do anything else to prove your self-worth.
It’s been a struggle to believe, to really believe God and not the condemning voices in my head. I could always do something more to be a better mom but it would never be enough. So I’m learning to accept me — a mom who is learning to play with her children and to treasure these ordinary days filled with ordinary moments because I remember that I only pass by this way once.
It’s labor day weekend and I’m sitting in a hospital room with my middle child who fell off the zip-line platform and hurt her head. She is the one who was born with her legs kicking, the one who started running at 10 months and hasn’t stopped moving since then. She was just here two weeks ago when she fell off her scooter, scrapped her knees and sprained her elbow (The doctors in ER gave her a cast.)
Yes, this calling – this holy calling to be a mom has tried me in ways I did not know could be possible. My heart has ached over the way I’ve treated my kids and still do at times. More than anything, I’ve wanted to get it right but the possibilities to get it wrong are endless.
Now I know that no matter how hard I try, I’ll never get it right as I would imagine right to be. And that’s when I realize how desperately I need God to be the mom He created me to be.
The utter joy of having children is that even though you fail and get it wrong so many times, they never stop opening their arms and hearts to you. And you cry because they love you despite your brokenness. And just them loving you reminds you that God loves you even so much more. He knows what an imperfect mom you are … but you are the mom He gave to those precious children of yours. And He must know what He is doing.
So this mothering thing — I’m learning to embrace it for all that its worth. It’s taken me a while but I’m thankful I’m not where I was five years ago. As I watch my son walk away one step farther towards the life God created him for, I realize that it does not get better than this.