This phrase is one I have been wanting to write about for the last couple of days; how fitting that Mother’s Day is approaching and this topic is on my heart. When you saw the title “Mom Fail!” you may have wrongly assumed I would share some cute little anecdote that highlights the struggles and pains of motherhood; some relatable tale of frustration and “failures.”
While I love seeing mothers reach out to one another in solidarity, sharing not only the joys but also the struggles, I do not love the term “mom fail.” When this term first emerged I did think it was quite relatable and I have even used it a time or ten myself, though usually with a chuckle or smile. However, I have been experiencing a growing dislike of this term.
I did not fail when my child wore pyjamas all day. I did not fail when I did not have a lovely home-cooked meal on the table. I did not fail when I was snappy with one (or several) of my children. I did not fail when my house was too messy, nor when it was “too clean” (do not ask me when that was, that is more a hypothetical example). I did not fail when I spent 10 minutes on Facebook rather than playing with my children. I did err, I do err, and I will continue to err. To err is human. I would not dream of telling my child he or she FAILED when they struggled. My infant did not FAIL when he tripped and fell. My preschooler did not FAIL when he had a tantrum. My kindergartener did not FAIL when he picked on his little brother (likely resulting in the aforementioned tantrum). My fourth grader did not FAIL when she forgot to feed the dogs three days in a row and someone else had to do the chore for her. My sixth grader did not FAIL when she chose fitting in over kindness.
If I would not dream of saying my children failed when they struggled; when they made a mistake, when they were LEARNING out loud; why would I say I failed when I did the same? Motherhood is a glorious hodge-podge of smiles and tears, victories and struggles. We all have those days. The days when “mom fail” seems like a hard and true fact of our existence. Can you do yourself a favour? Please, give yourself a gift this Mother’s Day. Drop “mom fail” from your vocabulary. Maybe replace it with “mom life”, or “the struggle is real!”, or anything else that appeals to you. Maybe it is just me, I mean “mom fail” is cute and catchy in a way. However, I have decided to refuse to attach FAIL to anything I do. I have only failed if I refuse to try again; if I admit defeat and thrown in the towel.
In those moments when “mom fail” feels like a deep-rooted truth take a deep breath, and face that you are human. Struggling is okay. Do what you need to do to make it to the next “mom victory.” Ask your husband to take over, call a friend to come for coffee…eat cereal for breakfast. Most importantly, grant yourself the grace you would grant to your loved ones. Your mistakes are not failures, they are opportunities to learn and grow.
On the subject of learning and growing, please oh please stop comparing your life to blogs or Facebook posts. For the love of joy, peace, and your own sanity just stop. You do not need to justify where you are at in your journey. Is my house too messy or too clean? Am I too controlling or too relaxed? Am I too structured or too unstructured? While plenty can be learned from parenting posts and books, your walk is yours and no one else’s. Whether I am looking to justify my stance on an issue or looking to grow in an area, I will be able to find something written that agrees with me. I will also be able to find something that disagrees with me! While reading can illuminate in us an area we were previously blind to, nothing is as valuable as trusting and open relationships.
When we share life, real life not just the Facebook highlight reel, we can learn so much about ourselves. In our most trusted relationships we can begin to see through another’s eyes. We can be lovingly guided through our struggles, and we can be shown areas where we are victorious! As much as I have enjoyed and felt enriched by words I have read, nothing has encouraged my growth as much as the relationships that I have invested in and the people who have invested in me. The people in my life are part of the reason I can now see I was NEVER “mom failing,” but simply “mom growing.”
I pray your growth is supported and encouraged, and that you could be a support and encouragement to others. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Happy Mother’s Day!
After Heath was born, we were fairly certain four kids was enough. I say fairly certain because we were not ready to make a permanent contraceptive decision, but four kids seemed like enough. We were taking precautions to prevent additional pregnancies, because I mean, really, who even has four kids nowadays? We had (and still have) a very busy life, full of sports, visits with family and friends, and church activities. Any more than four would probably be unreasonable, right? While we knew logically that four kids is a big family, a small part of me was not sure that we were done, so nothing permanent was done. Then one day I felt a calm assurance come over me. Our family was perfect just how it was, four kids was enough, our family was complete.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the unexpected joys of Dylan’s accident was his ability to stay home with the kids for the summer. This allowed us to take a week long camping trip with our kids and some extended family members at Fofar campground in the summer of 2015. In the week leading up to us heading out to camp, I came to a surprising realization: I was “late”.
I am not sure if I was already pregnant when I felt our family was perfect with four children, but I think I probably was. Life is pretty funny sometimes. Or at least I think God must get a pretty good chuckle over our thoughts and actions at times! Be warned, a slight bit of personal information is coming your way in the next fe sentences. I am one of those regular type girls who is never late, and I always track my dates so I can mentally prepare myself for the monthly fun. Despite this, it took me three days to realize I was late. With the revelation of my lateness re-counted three times, just to make sure I had not made a mistake. I mean, I am NEVER late…I could not be late. No way. Did I have my LMP date wrong? Thinking back, looking at the calendar, no, that was for sure the date. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach at the implication of what my calendar was telling me.
“What do you mean you’re late, you can’t be?!” Dylan responded in shock, and dare I say indignation, when I shared with him my revelation.
I assured him there was no mistake, I was late. The next day, at four days late, I asked him to pick up a home pregnancy test. When I got home from work that evening I took the test and despite the suboptimal testing time (first morning urine samples are always best), and there was no doubt.
I was pregnant. Put another way; the cautious, laboratory technologist who had planned every previous pregnancy, was carrying an unplanned baby.
Or, should I say a baby not planned by his earthly parents.
So, with pregnancy hormones coursing through my body once again, we packed up for the lake and a week of camping with my nana, Dylan’s parents, and various nieces and nephews. I really wanted to be able to tell my parents and Dylan’s parents at the same time, or as close to the same time as possible. I also did not want to tell my parents over the phone. So, we decided to not tell anyone about our happy surprise. As luck would have it, my pregnancy was so healthy that I was “enjoying” nausea in the morning, along with the emotional ups and downs associated with the changing hormones; while spending time with family and trying to keep quiet about the news. Not to mention I was still having trouble being as excited about the pregnancy as I wanted to be. That we had not been “trying for another,” and already had four children invited a lot of unwanted feelings in me.
What would people think was probably my first and foremost fear. I assumed I would be met with a pile of judgement and condemnation.
An unplanned pregnancy?! Five kids?! What the heck is wrong with you? This is just a small sampling of the thoughts and statements I was sure I would encounter once we broke the news to the world. Surely we would meet opposition. Despite my concerns about what the rest of the world would think, one of the hardest things to deal with was that no matter what everyone else thought, deep down, I was so happy. I knew the potential challenges that were in front of us; pregnancy, labour and delivery, nurturing and providing for another life, the unkind words and opinions we may encounter. So, as is so often true, the largest obstacle was myself. Reconciling my fears and assumptions with my joy would prove to be the biggest challenge I would face in my pregnancy.
When I think of myself in the first week of learning I was pregnant, I picture a caricature of myself with a grey swirl above her head. Too many fearful thoughts and too little peace. With all the heavy assumptions, hormones, and inner conflict I was facing I was probably a joy to camp with!
Well, pregnancy mood or not, fun was being had by some!
Finally, a few days in to our camping trip, after getting frustrated and bursting into tears Dylan asked what was wrong. I shared with him all I was thinking, feeling, and fearing. The burden of keeping the pregnancy a secret was too much, so he said exactly what I needed to hear.
“Phone your mom. She won’t care if you’re telling her on the phone. If not sharing the news is this hard on you, call her.”
A mother’s love is unconditional, and I know my parent’s are very proud of me. However, I was carrying a great big fear that somehow my pregnancy would disappoint them. I had carefully planned so many aspects of my life, and here I was carrying a baby I had not expected, what would they say? I picked up my phone and called my mom with shaky hands. I am sure there was no small talk and practically no lead in, I simply broke the news.
“Oh really?!” Came my mom’s reply, the joy and acceptance evident in her tone. I cannot remember her next words, probably because they do not matter. As soon as she made her first statement, relief flooded through me and my eyes filled with tears of joy. I was happy about this baby, unexpected or not, and so was my mom. Whatever the rest of the world thought, I would have the support of my parents. It does not matter how old we are, the unconditional love and acceptance of our parents is so valuable.
Despite my fears, the rest of the world doled out very little shock, negativity or judgement. There probably was some surprise, and maybe the occasional joke or jab, but I was met with so much love and support that no one but me could hinder my joy. I was pregnant, I was happy about it, but it was a journey to get to a place where I did not feel the need to confide to everyone I knew that my pregnancy was a surprise. It was almost as if I felt the need to justify my large family, even though I was truly happy about it. To try and explain how I felt at that time is difficult, because I still do not entirely understand my feelings from that time!
Is five kids so bad that I owe the world an explanation, or basically an apology, for my family size? Or did I feel some strange guilt for having an unplanned pregnancy? I really still do not have a lot of insight into the “me” from a year and a half ago. I know there was some turmoil associated with the two conflicting facts; that my pregnancy being unplanned and that I happy to have an even larger family. Beyond that I am, surprisingly enough, at a loss for words.
My first round of prenatal bloodwork revealed a little surprise as well. While my LMP suggested I was about 6 weeks along, the blood work suggested that I was more likely around 9 weeks. That, coupled with my increased pregnancy symptoms and the rapid growth of my belly led to my doctor ordering an early ultrasound. He wanted to confirm that my dates were correct and that there was only one baby. Well, I am a very regular laboratory technologist (read: I keep track and know my LMP, every month), so the possibility of twins seemed much greater than an error in dates. I went in for an ultrasound at 9 weeks and learned that baby really was only baby, not babies, and that my dates were bang on. The next day I worked, and my doctor was on call. I walked past him to enter the lab with a quick good morning and he chased after me.
“Kyla! Well?” He inquired from the lab doorway.
I simply shrugged and shook my head. In my mind this indicated there was one baby, not two, present.
“They wouldn’t tell you?!” He exclaimed in shock.
“Oh they told me, I mean there is only one.” I replied.
“Oh!” responded simply, but I thought I detected a note of surprise. Now it was my turn to chase after him!
I went out to the ER and asked him what, if anything, he had thought I was carrying.
“Oh I was SURE it was twins.”
Well, I have to say I am glad I learned his opinion after I learned there was only one baby coming. Dylan and I were trying to mentally prepare ourselves for either instance, but if we knew our doctor thought two were coming, it would have tipped the balance just a little more towards us thinking there was two. Surprisingly, Dylan and I both had the smallest bit of disappointment to learn there was only one. To know my doctor was sure it was twins would have further strengthened our suspicions; and would have made learning it was only one baby a bit more like a loss.
My pregnancy continued along nicely, with not much more than the typical pains and complaints until around 21 weeks gestation. During a routine prenatal visit my blood pressure was elevated, which it had not been in my previous pregnancies. My doctor was not too concerned at first, and just assumed it was an aberrant result. He asked my to stop by and see him in the emergency department the next day just to see if my blood pressure had returned to normal. Well, to both mine and my doctor’s surprise, my blood pressure was still elevated! Although my blood pressure reading never increased to the point of needing medication to control it, I did leave work on short term disability at around 31 weeks pregnant. The break must have been what I needed because although my blood pressure did not return to normal, I did not develop pre-eclampsia. The unusual blood pressure did lead to my cautious physician requesting weekly non-stress tests starting at 35 or 36 weeks, and a few extra laboratory tests for me, just to ensure baby and I stayed healthy.
Although my blood pressure stayed stable, my doctor did not want to take any risks and wanted to look at inducing labour at 38 weeks to prevent pre-eclampsia. He tentatively booked an induction for the Wednesday after I reached 38 weeks, but at my appointment the Friday before, my blood pressure was still stable so he held off. At just over 39 weeks, on March 30, he wanted to do a “sweep” to kickstart labour.
“Well, I am actually due on April 10, and I thought it was neat that I would have an April baby, I know it’s strange, but could we wait at least 2 days?” I asked.
Fortunately my blood pressure was still staying steady so he agreed that two days would not make any difference. The compromise was that I had to come back on Friday, April 1, for the “sweep”. With the appointment booked I headed home.
The next day, Thursday March 31 at about 7pm, my water broke! It looked like I was going to have my April baby after all, with no interventions or assistance! Yet another example of divine timing in my life! The details of labour and delivery really do not matter, but the outcome sure does.
Luke Markus Zane George entered the world at 0326 am, weighing in at 8lbs 11 oz, and 21 inches long. Love at first sight yet again!
First precious memories
Today, we celebrate Luke’s 1st birthday and I thank God for His plan for my life and my family. We were not incomplete before Luke, I would not even say we were incomplete before becoming parents; but our family is more complete, more full, and more wonderful with each additional blessing.
Even on the hard days, when my patience seems too short, when tears are plenty and smiles are few, I would not trade this life for anyone else’s. My life is a rich tapestry of colour, and wonderful, beautiful chaos. While some of the tapestry’s colours may be from stains I would rather not know the origin of, it is a beautiful picture all the same.
God has blessed me mightily and I am so thankful for His love and the love of the people He has placed in my life. Blessings!
Following the arrival of Heath, our second baby, we all adjusted to our larger family with ease. Assisting in our adjustment, Heath was a good sleeper from birth! To be perfectly honest, Heath was a pretty easy baby; he did not play shy, he slept well, nursed well, and was not fussy or colicky. The only problem Heath had was a hematoma on his skull (from his vacuum extraction) that calcified to a hard bump. The calcified hematoma did not cause him any issues, it was purely cosmetic.
The summer Heath was born we had a family reunion for both the George and White families, so we had the opportunity to introduce our newest addition to our extended families. We also took our new baby on a camping trip or two, no small feat for a newborn, but he took it all in stride. Prior to Heath’s birth, I worried Brock might experience some jealousy, but he loved his brother whole-heartedly from the start. The girls did not have any trouble adjusting to life with another brother either, they absolutely adored him.
The summer of 2013 was full of joy and memories, and the fall of 2013 looked like it was going to bring much the same; with Justice entering grade one, and Tapanga off to grade three. However, our lives all took a slightly unexpected turn in October. As you may remember, Dylan’s parents Hugh and Sally are foster parents. What I may not have mentioned previously is that my girls have two older siblings, a brother and a sister.
Up until this time the older sister (for simplicity I will call her Kat, that is not her real name) was living in a group home. Much to our surprise and joy, Kat decided she wanted to be part of a family; big news as Kat had previously not been emotionally ready to join a family. However, Kat had now come to a place where she wanted the stability and love of a forever home. Since there was a family connection to Kat, with her sister’s being adopted by Dylan and I, Hugh and Sally were asked to provide that home for her. In trying to decide if bringing Kat into their home was right for the family, Hugh and Sally not only talked with each other, but also with Dylan and I. Our security, peace, and the stability of Tapanga and Justice were some of the most important factors in Hugh and Sally’s decision. Dylan and I felt that if the placement worked out it could be so wonderful for all three girls. Given Kat’s age (she was about to turn seventeen), having the anchor of a stable and loving family before she reached adulthood would be invaluable. All four adults understood the potential risks, and potential benefits. We hoped and prayed that welcoming Kat into the family was the right decision.
Kat moved into Hugh and Sally’s home in October 2013, right in time for her seventeenth birthday. The perfect time for a joyful reunion between siblings. It had been several years since the three girls had spent any time together, and they were all very excited about the chance to get to know each other, and establish a new family dynamic. While Dylan and I were nervous about the placement, and knew that if it broke down it would be devastating for all three girls, we were hopeful that Hugh and Sally could be the parents Kat needed.
When Kat moved in we thought she should be given time to adjust to her new home before she saw Tapanga and Justice again. However, Kat was very anxious to see Justice and Tapanga so we had a visit in our home within a few days of her moving in with Hugh and Sally. The girls were able to see each other and have memorable visits two or three times in the brief time Kat was in our family’s life. While we believed Kat truly wanted a family, being a part of our family proved too difficult for her. Within a week or two of arriving, Kat abruptly left her placement. Dylan and I waited a couple of days, hoping she would return, hoping we would not have to give our girls the heart-breaking news.
Talking to Tapanga and Justice about their sister leaving was one of the more difficult conversations we have had with them. Tapanga’s grief was immediate and strong; as was her anger. The abandonment Tapanga felt was devastating, “I knew she would leave, I knew it!” As much as Tapanga wanted to know Kat and have her in her life, a part of her was afraid she would lose her. Justice was very sad as well, but it seemed a large part of her grief came from seeing her big sister hurting. We talked and prayed through Tapanga and Justice’s pain, sadness, and feelings of abandonment as best we could, and tried to help our girls to understand what we were having trouble understanding ourselves. The why.
I believed, and still do, that Kat truly did want a connection with her family, with our family. I do not think Kat knew how hard it would be; that reuniting with her sisters could bring up past hurts and memories that she was not strong enough to deal with. Or, at least I think that is why she left. I still do not have an answer to that, and maybe I never will. For now I hang on to the belief that Kat truly loves my little girls and did not intend to hurt them, I choose to believe that.
Despite the pain Kat caused my little girls, the pain our whole family experienced, I choose to forgive her. I may not know with certainty the cause of Kat’s leaving, but I do know that deep in her heart she was a lost, hurt little girl.
I am thankful that Kat did not stay longer, if her leaving was inevitable. The grief would have been much stronger had she stayed longer. I do wonder how things would have been had Kat stayed in our lives; I often wonder about both Kat, and the older brother . I pray they are well.
“The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace. ” Psalm 29:11
Life moved on, the kids all grew and life was good. Dylan was working as an apprentice carpenter, and after his second year of schooling he had the opportunity to work under a different journeyman carpenter. It was while working for his new boss, Trevor, that a life-changing event occurred. On April 16, 2015, I was on my way back from a butcher outside Sangudo with my sister-in-law Megan when my cell phone rang. I had been on the phone with Dylan earlier asking where to find the butcher (he lived down a gravel road), so when I saw it was him I thought he was calling to see if I had found it. We were nearly back to highway 18 with the beef in the back, I was ready to tell him. Instead, when I said hello I heard something that rocked me, a memory that still has the power to bring me to tears.
“Hello,” I greeted my husband.
In response I heard Dylan, short of breath, gasping and nearly crying in pain say, “I need you to drive me to the hospital, I fell off the roof.”
“WHAT? What happened? Are you okay?” I asked in shock, and near disbelief.
“Uuuh no. I need you to come get me,” came the pained reply.
“Call the ambulance!” I demanded, still having trouble comprehending what I was hearing.
“No, you’ll be faster,” he half moaned, half spoke.
Moments later he hung up.
In a state of shock, I recapped Dylan’s end of the conversation for Megan. “He said he fell of the roof?! What do we do, what, I don’t know what to do!” I told my husband’s sister.
We reached the end of the gravel road we were on, and highway 18 lay in front of us. Barrhead to the right, Mayerthorpe to the left. I turned left and accelerated rapidly, reaching a speed my van had probably not seen before or since. As I drove, Megan called their parents, my parents, and my friend Beth. Megan told everyone the little we knew, and asked Beth to pray for us. In no time at all we reached the turnoff for Mayerthorpe and I turned left towards town. Megan used my phone to try and reach Dylan again, and Trevor answered.
They were at the Mayerthorpe hospital. Trying not to panic and fighting tears I navigated the tiny town, following the green H signs. I was so flustered I made a wrong turn, and had to make my way back to the highway and start again. Megan urged me to take a deep breath, and to not panic. Dylan was at the hospital, and we knew he was at least alive. Megan stayed strong and tried to reassure me, while likely battling her own fears for her big brother. I am so thankful she was with me that day.
Whoa, I need to take a little pause here. That was easily the hardest day of my life so far. I cannot begin to explain to you the emotions that were trying to surface, but I can tell you this much; God was with us. His supernatural grace, strength and peace was definitely around me because although I was badly shaken, I should have been a basket case. The sound of Dylan’s voice on the phone, the pain and fear I heard, kept replaying in my mind. Somehow I kept it together and found the hospital. No, not somehow. God was with me, absolutely.
Back to the story; we did make our way to the hospital (likely more quickly than it felt at the time) and parked. I made my way to the nursing desk and asked about Dylan, telling them who I was. When I first arrived they were still stabilizing him before taking him out of Trevor’s truck.
“Don’t worry, he is okay,” the nurse assured me, reading the fear that must have been written all over my face.
“Can I see him? No, not yet. I need you to fill out this paperwork please,” she replied.
I filled out the required information and waited. Once Dylan was stabilized he was brought directly to X-ray, and I was still not allowed to see him. It was at this time that I met Trevor for the first time.
“Not the best way for us to be meeting,” he said, visibly shaken.
I agreed, and we both continued to wait to see Dylan again, or at least hear news of how he was. While we waited he explained to me how the accident had happened. That morning Dylan and Trevor had been working on the second floor of a house they were building, and they were making great progress. They had the outer walls framed, and the house wrap was on as well. There was a piece of house wrap on the second story wall that was too long, so Dylan went to cut it.
“One second he was there, then he was gone!” Trevor exclaimed, the trauma of witnessing this was evident on his face. “I tried to warn him, don’t forget about the stair opening, but it was too late!” Trevor further explained that Dylan had fallen all the way to the basement. The total distance would have been somewhere between 18 and 20 feet. Thank God the cement floor was not poured yet.
As Dylan’s employer and friend, Trevor’s feeling of guilt was almost overwhelming. However, although the accident surely could have been prevented, it was no one’s fault. It just happened. Normally when they were building a home with a stairway opening, Trevor and Dylan would cover the opening with a piece of plywood to prevent a misstep. On this particular day however, the pre-assembled outer walls of the second floor had been covering the hole most of the morning. Dylan and Trevor stood the walls, leaving the stairwell hole exposed, and a covering was never placed over the hole. Dylan would share with me later that he kept feeling he should cover it but told himself he did not have time. No one could have predicted what horrible consequences not listening to that inner voice would have.
Following the fall, Dylan was in the basement, which had no stairs yet. Despite Trevor urging him to stay and wait for an ambulance, Dylan refused. Stubbornly, and with Trevor’s hesitant help, Dylan got out of the basement and into Trevor’s truck. Trevor called the hospital to prepare the staff for Dylan’s arrival, and then he drove to the hospital. EMT’s met the pair in the ambulance bay, and Dylan’s spine was stabilized before he was brought in for X-ray’s.
While Dylan was in X-ray, between shots, the X-ray technologists allowed me in briefly to see him. As hard as it was seeing my strong husband on the X-ray table, in pain despite IV morphine, relief flooded me. I could see him, and touch him. He was alive. Thank God, he was alive. That was all I cared at that moment. He was alive.
I went back to the waiting room and after what felt like an eternity, but was probably only an hour, I was told I could go in to the emergency department and see my Dylan. The doctor on call shocked us all with the results of his X-rays;
“You’re free to go. There are no breaks, so go home and relax. You should probably take a day or two off work, but since there is no break, try and stretch your neck. Stretching it will help with the stiffness. Here is a prescription for some muscle relaxants and pain killers.”
We could hardly believe it, Dylan had fallen so far and he had no broken bones, he was okay, and we were going home. It had to be a miracle; falling between 18 and 20 feet, through an opening that was probably only 3 feet wide by 7 feet long, and coming out with not one broken bone! Thankful does not begin to describe how we felt.
At about 3pm Dylan was discharged and I drove him home, but unfortunately, we were in for an unpleasant surprise. That evening at about 9pm, while Dylan was trying to relax on the couch, I received a very concerning phone call.
I have not used the real names of the physicians as it would not add to the story, and would violate their right to privacy.
“Hi, this is Dr. Jack, from the Mayerthorpe Hospital. I’m going to need you to go get Dylan a neck brace from the Barrhead Hospital. The radiologist just called me and it seems he actually has a compression fracture of his C6 vertebrae. Tomorrow head in to the Royal Alex for a CT with Dr. Joe.” The Mayerthorpe doctor also explained what a compression, or wedge, fracture was; but I was barely listening. I was again in shock. We had been sent home, told Dylan was FINE, and now we were being told he had a fractured neck! I felt nearly sick. Thank God Dylan’s neck had been too stiff to stretch! I told Dylan what I had learned on the phone and he could hardly believe it either.
I did not think that me picking up a neck brace at the hospital was the best way to handle the fracture, since I do not know how to properly use a neck brace, so I called the hospital. The nurse I spoke to was already aware of the situation, and advised me to cautiously drive him to the hospital. We called Dylan’s parents to come watch Heath (the other kids were away on sleepovers), and I drove Dylan the three blocks to the hospital where he was fit with a temporary brace. The next morning Dylan and I left early for the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. After a bit of a run-around, and a bit of a wait, Dylan was taken for a CT scan. The spine specialist informed us that Dylan would either be going for surgery that day, or going home. Once Dylan’s CT results were in, and he was fit with a better neck brace, we were told we could go home. We still did not know what the CT had shown.
Several days later, our family doctor called us. “Dylan is a source of some controversy, it seems,” he began. “I’ve looked at the X-rays myself, and sent them to three other physicians, and another radiologist, and we all see the same thing. He has a compression fracture at C6. It is subtle, but we all agree, it’s there! However, his CT results say there is no fracture.” What now? Was Dylan’s neck broken or not? Since we did not know the status of the C6 vertebrae, we all agreed leaving the neck brace on was the best choice.
In time we saw the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB), and their physician. “Why are you wearing the brace when your neck is not broken?” WCB’s doctor asked. Dylan and I explained the contradictory results we had been given, and the doctor agreed with the continued use of the neck brace. To clarify the status of Dylan’s C6, the doctor ordered a bone scan. Following the bone scan, we learned that yes, C6 still “lit up” (indicating it was likely fractured). We also learned that the chest pain Dylan had been experiencing was the result of a fractured sternum. This was two weeks post accident.
When Dylan began physiotherapy six-weeks post-accident, we learned he had another injury; a separated shoulder.
In the end, the tally of Dylan’s injuries was: a fractured sternum, a compression fracture of his C6 vertebrae, numerous abrasions, and a separated shoulder. Bad enough, but not too bad considering the height Dylan fell from. Some might even call it miraculous. I know I do.
“The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace. ” Psalm 29:11
One of the most impactful aspects of this accident was, for me, how we went through it as a couple. The day Dylan fell was probably the worst day of either of our lives. However, I can still look back on it with gratitude and peace. Throughout all the trials, setbacks, pains, and frustrations, we knew God was with us.
We were frequently asked “how are you so calm, how are you so okay?” Trevor was probably the first to ask us how we were so at peace. How were we not falling apart? There really is only one answer to that. God was with us, and we knew He was.
Despite the peace and assurance we frequently felt, the journey through this accident was incredibly hard on our whole family. Plenty of tears were shed by Dylan, our kids, and myself. Dylan’s accident shook us, but it could have broke us. For some time following the accident Dylan was in pain, and he required extensive rehabilitation. Further challenging him, Dylan was physically unable to do many tasks he normally completed with ease, he felt helpless and burdensome. The effects of the fall were more extensive than we first perceived.
Dylan’s injury was a great challenge for me as well. Watching my strong husband in pain, watching him go through rehabilitation, and watching him unable to do many things he normally took for granted, was indescribably hard. Dylan’s inability to perform a number of physical tasks required us to shift our regular roles in the home; he began to cook more while I had to do some of the more manual tasks.
We bent under the pressure at times, but we were not broken. That which was meant for our destruction has been used to build our family stronger than ever. Through it all, we knew God was with us, and we thanked Him for the hidden blessings of what was an unquestionably difficult time. We thanked Him for the time Dylan was able to spend more time with the kids, and the growth He helped us both to achieve. We thanked Him that we overcome the challenges with a grace only He could provide.
We thanked Him that we are overcomers.
I guess there was a little more story to tell before I could get to Luke…next post, I promise 😉
My friend commented recently that she had enjoyed watching my oldest daughter and I interact that evening. I shared with her that I had been a bit abrupt with my daughter earlier, cutting off a conversation that I felt we did not need to have at that time. While I was likely quite right to not engage in the conversation, I wanted to check in with my girl and make sure that she was okay, that I had not been too quick to decide on the necessity of a talk. Even if I had been right to not engage in the subject, I felt I could have handled her with more grace and consideration. That realization led down the rabbit trail of thinking about how often I apologize to my kids. I have lost count of how many times I have apologized to them each. They probably each receive a sincere “sorry” from me on a nearly daily basis. Why do I apologize so much? Am I a failure as a parent, or as a person in general? I would like to think not, so here is why I think I apologize so often.
First off, I have five children, and their ages range from nine months to eleven and a half years. As such, I have a pretty broad range of developmental stages in my home. So, in addition to each child having their own unique strengths, weaknesses, and desires, each child also has a very distinct set of needs that my husband and I have to meet. Add to that the regular responsibilities of being an adult; housework, cooking, budgeting, kid sports, volunteer obligations, work, my own interests (ha!), and I think it is fair to say I am often stretched a little thin. You could say I often feel a little like elasta-girl from the Incredibles, stretched to her maximum. Or maybe a more apt analogy might be saying I manage my life a bit like those fun plate-balancing folks put on their shows. No one really knows how they do it; and half the people watching are convinced it is some gimmick or illusion, while the other half are waiting for the inevitable crash as the plates hit the stage. I think the girl on the bottom, the one balancing the plates AND another plate balancing girl, might be my long-lost Asian twin! See the intense focus/fear in her eyes?
Okay, I am admittedly exaggerating, and digressing, but I hope you see my point. Being a little short on time and patience happens a little more often than I would like. When these pressure points come, I am much more likely to lapse into the type of attitude I have worked so hard to outgrow; snappy, rude, or impatient. All of these undesirable attitudes wear a similar face: a tightly drawn unsmiling mouth, and slightly cold eyes. An almost palpable chill could enter the room from my facial expression alone, if I were to allow these attitudes to dominate. These unhappy moods also sport a similar style of communication: a louder voice with a more harsh tone, and a quicker pace of conversation from me, with little to no allowance for others to speak.
Before we go much further I should probably extend a little grace to myself, and an explanation to you. I feel some form of internal or external pressure everyday. We all do, it is part of the modern life we lead. This pressure of course does not lead to a full-out mom-meltdown (very often), but one or more of those little quirks may emerge on any given day, at any given time. After these momentary lapses have occurred, or when I feel I have let one or more of my children down in some other way, I feel it is of the upmost importance to look my child (or children) in the eyes and say one simple thing.
I am sorry.
I am sorry for snapping at you.
I am sorry for not hearing you out.
I am sorry for those unkind words.
I am sorry for my facial expression.
I am sorry for not listening.
I am sorry for my attitude about your attitude.
I am sorry I did not make time to read you a bedtime story.
I am sorry for not coming to you right away when you started crying.
Whatever the rude behaviour directed at my child, by me, I try and own it and apologize for it as soon as I am able. That may be immediately, or it might be several hours later, or even years later. The timeline does not matter quite as much as the simple fact that when I become aware of my indiscretion, I apologize.
In apologizing I am teaching my children many valuable lessons:
No one, no matter what level of authority they have, can treat you poorly.
You deserve an apology when you are wronged.
I love you enough to humble myself before you.
I love you enough to protect your heart.
I am not perfect. I make mistakes, and I own them. As I have done, so can you.
I think the realization that I am not perfect may be one of the most powerful aspects of my apology. What freedom! My children are quite aware that I am not perfect, and they love me anyway. They now have the ability to go about making mistakes in life, apologizing, and resting comfortably knowing they are still loved. They do not need to be perfect. They are my children, and I love them. I am their mom, and they love me. Our family members all love each other. Warts and all.
The world would have our children believe they are subservient to us. Their lack of wisdom and experience somehow equates to a lower value, and unfortunately this attitude can also show up in our homes:
Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to.
Children are to be seen and not heard.
I didn’t ask you.
I don’t have to respect you, but you have to respect me.
I’m sorry but…
I nearly shudder writing those statements. You may have heard one or more of those statements when you were a child; you may even have used one or more of them yourself. The above comments are ubiquitous, but they are lies. The Bible teaches us that whoever is least among us is greatest in the kingdom of God. So, even though children are often regarded as less important than adults, we can clearly see how God regards them. Jesus also encourages us to become like little children when it comes to our faith. He in fact declares that unless we are like children with our faith we will not enter the kingdom of heaven! So why do so many people behave as if children’s hearts are not hurt by our harsh words? Or why do we pretend their pain is small, just because they are small? It is so easy to focus on the oft quoted scripture: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1), but how many people fail to read on? If you were to continue on a few lines to Ephesians 6:4, you would read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
We all make mistakes. We snap at our kids. We spend a couple minutes too long staring at our phones. We show up late for, or forget altogether, important events.
We wrong our children, and in doing so, we provoke them to anger.
When this happens, we need to take control of ourselves, and take responsibility for our actions. We need to get on the level of the little person we have wronged, and we need to speak with openness and honesty three simple words:
I am sorry.
When I do this my children often respond immediately with “I forgive you.” We then all move on with our day, not pausing at all to contemplate the power of those statements.
I am sorry.
I forgive you.
There is so much freedom in those few words, and more importantly, there is love.