In honor of Mothers’ Day — I saw this Facebook post earlier this week, and it just about ripped my heart out. Yes, there really are mothers like this one, who put their love lives ahead of their kids’ welfare. We need to keep speaking out against these Mommy Dearests, and do our best to erase the damage they do to these kids. Kudos to teachers like Lauren who are willing to get below the surface and reach out to these hurting kids.
(Reposted with permission.)
I get asked all the time why I teach. I never know how to answer it quite right, so I usually say something sarcastic like, “Because I’m really a huge fan of hearing myself repeat the same thing sixteen times in three minutes,” or “Because summers, obviously.”
There was boy in my morning class, I’ll call him Danny. At least three times a week, he showed up over an hour late to my class. He was always behind, never quite knew what was going on, and his late work caused extra grading for me. Frankly, he annoyed me. Every time he showed up late, I assumed he didn’t care. He wasn’t responsible. He didn’t respect me. Finally, I asked him. “Danny, why are you always late?” He shrugged. I said nothing, and waited for a response. He sighed, “My mom got this new boyfriend, and whenever she stays the night at his place, no one is home to make sure my little brother gets on the bus. I make sure he’s awake and get him on his bus, but that means I miss my bus and have to walk.” How far is your house from school? “A little over a mile.”
Danny IS responsible. Danny DOES care. Danny DOES value his education. See, whenever Danny was late, he would miss the school’s free breakfast and go hungry until lunch. He’s frustrated with his mom, behind in his classes, and is hungry. Of course this 13 year old boy is acting out! Now, when Danny shows up late, instead of greeting him with a detention slip and an eye roll, I get to greet him with a genuine smile and a granola bar.
Danny humbled me. To be completely honest, I get humbled by my students daily. They make me realize that I can be impatient, judgmental, and imperfect. But the thing is, there’s no eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt be perfect.” Jesus just showed up, met people exactly where they were, and loved them. Then he taught, but only after their immediate needs were met.
I teach because I get to ask kids “why” every day. Why are you late? Why aren’t your clothes clean? Why aren’t you doing your work? Why do you want to sleep in my class? Why are you so afraid to take a risk? Why don’t you trust adults? Why are you acting out? Why are you arguing with me? (Sometimes the questions are ridiculous: why are you hiding in my closet? Why did you think it was a good idea to throw your shoe out the window? Why did you just lick your neighbor’s ear?)
The “whys” teachers ask aren’t to be punitive and shame kids. Teachers ask kids “why” because we get to treat students like human beings worthy of love and respect. Those “whys” show kids that we care, that they’re worthy, that they matter, and that they’re safe. We ask why, and then we listen… Really listen to these kids.
Q. How many narcissists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Only one, but he has to wait for the whole world to revolve around him.
Those of us raised by narcissist parent(s) sometimes use humor to band-aid the pain. What do you use to cover the pain? For many years, I used alcohol. But I thank the Lord for the counseling I received during my recovery that opened my eyes. Twenty years ago, I hadn’t yet labelled the role I was forced into as scapegoating, one of the offshoots of narcissistic abuse. But you don’t need a label to recognize mistreatment.
How I wish abusive parents understood the following diagram:
Abused Children—> Mean, angry adults/Substance abusers—> Child abusers—> The Incarcerated.
See the vicious cycle? Abused children grow up mean and angry. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and even abuse their own children. Often leading to incarceration.
Instead of Imagining no more heaven (a tragic visual), imagine no more abuse. Now that will be heaven!
I’ll close with the following quote from the attached link: “..behind closed doors, all pretense falls away. Only you, their child, knows what it’s like to endure their cold shoulders for days on end over a minor infraction, or bear the brunt of constant, age-inappropriate demands for perfection and strength. You know what it’s like to be parented by a narcissist.”
I love Cats The Musical. Picture a tribe of human-sized cats slinking around dark alleys under the moonlight, discussing deep subjects like happiness and the meaning of life. Then Grizabella leaps onto the scene, singing that heart-tugging number we’ve heard a million times on the radio, TV, and in karaoke bars, Memory– the anthem of single mothers everywhere.
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
A time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
~~Written by Trevor Nunn
Poignant, bittersweet. Celebration of a former life, Mourning over loss. The song turns dark, depressing, finally ending on a note of hope:
Look, a new day has begun.
But sometimes, during the dark days, before the new day dawns, we can barely make it through the now. And what about our kids? They suffer the most when a parent leaves. As I mentioned in a previous post, my divorce took its toll on my kids in numerous ways. If the divorce hadn’t happened, would they have been drawn to more respectable friends, instead of judging potential companions by their “cool” factor? Would my under-achieving son have lived up to his potential?
Sad to say, we’ll never know the answer to these questions until we get to heaven. In the meantime, I found the ministry Focus on the Family a wonderful source for solo mamas. The attached article tells how we can let God heal broken hearts…not only ours, but our kids most of all.
Solo Mama: Oh, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Shh, don’t tell them, but I sign them up for activities from morning ‘til night! That way they have no time to get in trouble.
For instance, after school they have softball or soccer or track practice. Sometimes it’s a game or a meet. Then it’s time for dinner, which one of them is assigned to prepare on a rotating basis. However, as they’ve gotten older, that’s pretty hit or miss. After dinner is Boy Scouts for the sons, or music lessons for the daughter. They have about an hour before bed to do homework. And another day is gone!
B: Wow, you must be busy with trying to work full-time as well.
SM: I love my job. I have a meme at my desk that says, “Work: The place you go to escape your hectic home life.” So true.
B: Do you ever get time for yourself?
SM: Weekends are “me” time. They go to their dad’s every Saturday night and come home Sunday evenings. During the divorce, he and I stayed as amicable as possible. You know, it’s far better to lose a little “stuff” than it is to make a lifetime enemy. I know too many divorced mothers who are teaching their kids to hate their dad. Unless he’s a criminal or an abuser, DON’T DO THAT. And even if he is, please don’t teach them hate. Don’t you think we have too much hate in the world already? Yes, explain to your kids that their father did wrong and they have permission to sever their ties with him if he has hurt them. But at the same time, don’t express bitterness toward him. If you need to vent about him, be sure your kids are not around. You know the saying, attitudes are caught as well as taught.
B: Well, that’s all we have time for now. We will continue this interview tomorrow, when Solo Mama will reveal her number one secret for keeping her sanity.