In general I have considered myself to be a fairly compassionate and non-judgmental person. Yesterday it was brought to my attention that my heart attitude is not always what it should be. There is a boy who plays sports with one of my son's, whom I have been guilty of harboring not so generous feelings towards. I have watched this child's interactions with his mother, watched the temper tantrums and outbursts and wondered why she did not deal with them more effectually. He suffers with ADHD, which was obvious to me immediately, but also has other behavioral and psychological issues I knew nothing about.
My husband took the time to speak with her recently and she shared a bit about her children with him. She has another child who is just entering adolescence with bi-polar disorder. This woman has been through the wringer with her children and still she has a smile and a mostly positive attitude every time I see her. She gets her son to his sporting events on her own, while also working and caring for both of these children.
I have no idea what it would be like to walk in her shoes, nor had I really tried to put myself there. In the past, when she has engaged me in conversation I have nodded (politely, I thought at the time) and made appropriate responses, but not really engaged with her. I am not really sure why except that I felt uncomfortable with her, maybe because I was judging her parenting in my heart. I feel completely ashamed.
I forgot one very important thing. There, but for the grace of God, go I. A lesson that Don Mills Diva wrote about in a very touching post. God has blessed me with healthy, wonderful, well-behaved children. They have their moments that is for sure, but I have not had to walk the path this other mother has had to walk. The doctors and psychologists and hospitals and medications. The defiance and tantrums and the wondering what the heck could I have possibly done to have my children behave this way. The finding out that there is nothing I did, but that nature made them this way. That there is no parenting technique you can learn to help your child behave better. That your child may have to be medicated for the rest of their life and if they choose as adults to go off of their meds that they could be a danger to themselves or even to other people. I have not had to make decisions about how much medication is enough for my child to function well, but not so much that they have difficulty being present and aware.
Is it terrible that I am so thankful to not have to go where she has to go? I think I can be thankful as long as that does not mean that I have a superior attitude. That I don't think I am somehow better because my kids don't have issues. I need to remember what she is going through and offer support in any way I can. Does your child need a ride? I would love to help you out. And prayer. I can pray for another mother and her children with compassion in my heart. Allow my heart to be soft and broken for another's pain.
I believe it is also my job to not sit idly by while people make snide remarks about other mothers, other people. To not just smile or ignore those statements, but to encourage understanding in my friends and acquaintances.
It is sometimes hard to look in the mirror and see things in yourself that are not pretty. Things that make you feel ashamed. But it is infinitely better to really look within and find the ugly so that it can be purged. I am thankful that God has shown my poor attitude to me so that I can work on changing it. I really do love and care about people and I want to take every opportunity to show God's love to those I encounter.