“The first step toward creating balance is to accept responsibility for your child’s imbalances,
and to accept that the only way you can change them is by changing yourself first.”
(Oak Meadow, The Heart of Learning)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I read these words from The Heart of Learning early this morning while sitting in on Daniel’s speech evaluation at our local elementary school. While I’ve known for quite some time that Daniel had issues with articulation, seeing a trained speech pathologist struggle to understand him really drove home the point that the boy has issues.
So I will admit that my initial response to reading that his patterns were my responsibility was to bristle. Then I remembered something that I’ve come to realize lately: the stronger my reaction to something, the more truth their usually is to it. There’s something in me that wants to run and hide from hard truths. Maybe you’ve experienced this as well. I read on.
“Once you accept responsibility for your children’s patterns, you must become aware of your own patterns, for that is the only way in which you can release yourself and your children from these patterns. Being aware of a pattern does not mean criticizing yourself for it or feeling guilty about it. It just means being aware of it… Negative patterns only have real power when they remain hidden.”
Causes of Daniel’s speech issues aside, at the end of the day it is my responsibility to gently and lovingly correct them. It’s not up to him to just “make it happen,” also known as “he’ll grow out of it.” Even if we didn’t homeschool, it wouldn’t be up to the school district and if we hired someone, the ultimate responsibility wouldn’t ultimately belong to them either. As his mother, I must take responsibility.
But what was happening was that I was taking that responsibility and mixing in a heavy heap of guilt. Didn’t I speak to him clearly and often, without baby talk, by the time he was little? Haven’t I surrounded him with words since the day he was born? What was I doing wrong that led to his speech problems?
These are unanswerable questions. Daniel is who he is– a five-year-old child with an expansive vocabulary and some speech issues. A gentle little boy who is starting to feel teased and misunderstood when others cannot understand him. And I am who I am– his mother, who loves him and has been given charge of his well-being. His mother, who has the power and responsibility to help him grow into the person God intends for him to be.
And after I let go of the guilt and the unanswerable questions– really, will we ever know why?– I was able to see with much more clarity and awareness what patterns I was allowing that were contributing to the issue.
Faced with so much to correct, I had instead chosen not to correct at all.
Because we found it cute, we let a lot go, and even laughed about it.
Waiting for a call back from early intervention because we passed the initial screen, we never pushed and pursued a more extensive evaluation.
And I can choose to look at those facts through a lens of guilt, which paralyzes, or through a lens of responsibility. When I add guilt to my mothering, there’s just no way forward. All I can do is look backward and try to figure out where I went wrong. But when I add responsibility? Instead of guilt I find honor. What a privilege it is to help shape my children’s lives! What a blessing it is to have the ability to help form these little people into who they are meant to be!
And here’s the most awesome part of all– we’re not left alone to take on the task. We’ve been given a spirit of love and hope to guide us along the way.
For St. Michael didn’t slay the dragon– he simply vanquished him from heaven. It was St. George, here on earth, who had to find the will and the strength to get rid of the dragon once and for all. And he did it not alone, but in the name of the One who created him.
So today, let’s slay the dragon of guilt. Just as there is no room for guilt in Paradise, there is no room for it here either. Instead, let’s face the challenges of motherhood with a sense of honor and responsibility, knowing that we have not been left to face the task alone, but have been given a sword of love and grace.
O GOD, who didst grant to Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith;
we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt,
so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death.
Through Christ our Lord.