Five years ago, I was at the apex of a painful season of infertility. I begged and pleaded with God to give me a child. I would do anything, be anything, sacrifice anything if I could just have a baby. I promised God all the things I would do to raise His child if He would simply lend me one.
Oh the things I would teach him! The way I would raise him! The glory he would be to God and to me and to the world! All if God would give me a chance and let me prove myself. It wasn’t for me, I truly believed that. I would raise warriors for Truth and Righteousness. And as long as I tried hard enough, my efforts would pay off. I would raise them right.
My baby came in June 2008 and wasn’t like any other baby. I tried to keep my promises, but nothing was working.
- I sang hymns and children songs and played the guitar for my baby. But my son didn’t like music and screamed until I stopped.
- I spent hours making homemade baby food cubes. But my son wouldn’t eat because he had too many sensory issues in his mouth.
- I tried to nurse until my son was two. But my milk dried up.
- I read every method to teaching babies how to happily fall asleep in his own crib. But my son could not sleep without being held, and even that was not a guarantee.
If life had taught me anything up to that point, it was that if I worked hard enough, I would accomplish anything I wanted. I studied every parenting guide I could get my hands on. I followed every suggestion by every expert in every book. But these experts didn’t write a book on my child, who is unlike any other child. The only book ever written on my child is in heaven. And I wasn’t looking there.
One day when my son was 2, I was fussing about how people didn’t understand how special he is. I was frightened that they wouldn’t be able to look past his challenges and appreciate him for the beautiful child of God that he is. I was furious that I even had to prove what a wonder this little man was. What is wrong with people?
And then the shame washed over me. It was like all my sins were amplified in my ears and I couldn’t make them go away.
- All the times my little boy didn’t want to talk. Oh, he’s just shy.
- All the times he would cry when music was played. Oh, his ears are really sensitive.
- All the times he refused to play with other children. Oh, he just needs some alone time.
- All the times he threw a fit upon leaving. Oh, that’s what happens when he watches too much TV or eats sugar.
I presumed his behavior was abnormal and was making excuses for why he was perfectly fine, thank you very much. So stop judging my son!
The worst offender of them all was giving a sermon on acceptance. A whited sepulchre, to be sure. Instead of perceiving some of my son’s most powerful gifts (appreciating solitude, independence), I could only see something dreadfully wrong.
I looked at my son differently that day. Really looked at him. He wasn’t worried about being perfect. And why should he? He already was.
I promised God I would raise a perfect child. Now I can see I made all the wrong promises. My perfect child is raising me.