Is it ever enough?

Burdened down with the guilt that comes from working full time and trying to juggle the demands of a family, I often fault myself for not doing enough on my child’s behalf. A woman’s work is indeed never done in even the best of circumstances, but when you are raising a child with “special needs” the question tends to stab the conscience with the succinctness of a butcher knife.
As the only person in my pre-marital family who is not an educator, I still took it upon myself to teach Lan or have him review whatever material his teachers would cover. With an older son just one grade above him, it was always easy to grab materials in the summer time to preview and prep so that Lan would not become victim to his shortened attention span.
However, as the kids grew and the material became harder there was less and less I could do for my child. Being fairly well educated and a bonafide health professional, I was at a complete loss when trying to teach this “new math” now the standard in education. These kids were doing in middle school things I vaguely remember from high school! As my older son progressed through honors courses, I could no longer rely on him as a reference for what Lan would cover in school as done years before. I was essentially stuck with trying to figure it all out and find the time to do so all the while juggling my other obligations.
My work days on average tend to be long, usually twelve hours at a time. So on these days I am unavailable for homework, unavailable to answer questions or even to follow up on what exactly Lan should be doing in his classes. Fortunately, he managed to surprise me and his teachers by basically keeping it all together. He didn’t excel academically like his brother, a master of standardized tests in his own right, but he managed to hold his own! Consistently and frustratingly, Lan managed to somehow miss honor roll by one class throughout middle school. There always seemed to be  that one class, usually math, that kept him from the prize. He so desperately wanted to make honor roll like all of his friends.
The heartbreak of the report card always left me with a twinge of guilt. Could he have achieved his goal if I were more available to him? What difference would a couple of hours a day really make? Would it be enough to push him over that invisible edge?
Well, we’ll never know because we can’t go back in time and I can’t control my work schedule. Still, most mothers often wonder if they have “done enough” to help their child achieve his or her very best.  I try not to beat myself up over it. My husband helps as he can but is quick to admit, school just isn’t his thing even he has a Bachelor’s degree in business. I can clearly see why it takes an entire village to raise one child!
Surprisingly though, one good thing has come of this though. Lan has learned to be independent. He has also learned to be responsible since there is no guarantee that I am available to keep him on the right track. He now tells me when he has projects due instead of me prodding him about them. He takes initiative in regards to completing his school work, even more so than his “gifted” big brother. Maybe my unavailability was a blessing in disguise.
I can’t really teach independence while hovering over the child. His confidence has grown exponentially with my unavailability. He no longer turns toward me for answers but explores them on his own. I guess I should be grateful and accepting that where I am weak and insufficient, God more than made up for my deficiencies.
In hindsight, I can see this now. God prepared my child in ways I probably wouldn’t have the guts to do. I still have to prod Lan to “focus” but not nearly as much as I used to. In fact, he never seemed bothered by my lack of availability. I guess my guilt served no purpose other than stroking my own battered ego.
I have concluded that I will never have enough time to give toward my child as I think I should. Exhausted from my day job, I am grateful to have enough energy to complete my shift! It has only taken ten years to absolve myself of my guilt, ten years too long for the fact to sink in. God will do what I can’t, put the perfect people in place and watch over my child far better than I ever could.
I may never have enough time to spend, material to teach or even energy to spend entertaining my child’s never ending onslaught of questions. Yet, I no longer beat myself up over it and resign myself to being a deficient mother.
Lan doesn’t fault me for my absence and I shouldn’t either. I work because I have to like most women I know. It has taken years for me to move away from “should have, would have and could have” to “God’s got it, trust Him and it will be all right.” I only wish I could have learned this lesson earlier. But like most things of value, I guess it takes time to reach that maturity.
So, for all of you out there who wear the same shoes of caring for anyone with special needs and doubting what you do, faint not! Fear not! Fret not!
You will only make yourself physically and mentally ill and drive yourself crazy in the process. Trust God, knowing He can provide whatever you can’t and give you the energy and know how to do what you can. Sometimes we struggle so hard in our own power like treading water to stay afloat when we would be better off to simply relax and instead “float” atop the waves, allowing God to dictate our direction.
Will I ever be able to do enough? No, I’ve decided. But, I now realize that I don’t have to.
I could in no way ever imagine all that would be required of me mentally and spiritually to raise this child. At times it’s been frustrating but I never had to go it alone. Thankfully, I’ve had God’s help every step of the way even when I couldn’t see it at the time.
Trust God. Cut yourself some slack. Learn to be at peace and enjoy the journey. Never enough is okay. God’s got your back!

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