Confession 4: I Don't Like Watching My Children Suffer
My oldest was almost a year old when he got RSV-Respiratory syncytial virus, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. I worried as he sat in my lap, took the breathing treatment, and looked at me so scared and confused. I sobbed when the breathing treatment was useless and we had to take him to the children’s ER at the local hospital. He was only admitted for the day, we were home by dinner with strict instructions about how to treat RSV. As promised by the ER staff, he was better within a few days. It was really scary, so when I read Chapter 4 of Good Enough is Good Enough by Colleen Duggen, I was able to recall with perfect clarity those horrible feelings of helplessness and worry. However, unlike Colleen’s situation, our son was fit as a fiddle about a week later, with no lasting effects from RSV. My heart went out to Colleen, and all parents of children with chronic health issues of any kind. I remember hating seeing the tubes and needles used to diagnose our son, and my heart breaking as he cried; I really cannot imagine living that on a daily basis.
In general I think most parents hate watching their children suffer. Discomfort is one thing, if they don’t get the dinner they want, or if they need to wait their turn to use a toy, those are not what this chapter is talking about. This chapter lays our Colleen’s own experience with watching her first child suffer over and over again. Her raw honestly about how she felt, and how she dealt with all of this is such a gift to me, as the reader. It gave me such insight about what us mothers are sometimes called to endure. She also talks about her own mother and seeing her suffer as one of Colleen’s siblings battled with addiction for years. In light of the previous chapter about not knowing how to keep our kids Catholic, it drove the point home even more that we have no say in what our children will choose as adults. This was a hard chapter to read, I cried a lot, and hugged my 2 toddlers a little tighter after I was done.
It made me think of my own mother, who is going to the cemetery today to visit my brother’s grave on the 12th anniversary of his death. We talk about him often, but I am cautious to ask how she survived his passing because I don’t know if I can hear of the suffering she went through, in her mother’s heart, now that I am a mother too. He suffered with addiction, divorce, and depression before his death, and I know that my mother suffered alongside him. She is a woman of deep faith, like Colleen, and I see that her faith in God really carried her through that dark time. She inspires me. Much like this chapter, my mother is a reminder that although we don’t like seeing our children suffer, they will, and when that time comes I will be called to remain faithful and prayerful through the storm.
Share your thoughts with us about how this chapter impacted you! What are some of your experiences as a mother who has seen her children suffer? What are some ways that you cling to the cross?
What is the greatest suffering you’ve experienced as a parent? Was God able to draw good from this suffering, If so, how and in what ways?
I don’t have any real specific times, other than maybe the one I mentioned above. Mostly I experience suffering when my kids are sick. It is so hard to see them unwell, and I focus on lavishing them with love. I think God shows me how much He loves me when I am nursing my own children back to health.
Do you try to avoid suffering? Why?
Of course I do! Haha-I think most people avoid it. Suffering is so uncomfortable and unpleasant, so I don’t actively seek it. However, I know that it happens, and try to remain faithful when it does.
When you experience your child’s suffering, how do you react? What are some healthy ways you could detach yet still show love and compassion to the suffering child?
I often cry when I see my own children suffering. They are so small, I don’t have the concept of detachment down yet. Perhaps in time I will grow in that.
Do you believe suffering can be redemptive? How have you suffered as a parent? What can Mother Mary teach us?
I definitely think that suffering can be redemptive! I cling to that any time I encounter suffering and try to offer it up for others. I think there is not enough room on this blog for me to express all the ways that Mary can teach us about redemptive suffering, but she really is the model of that for me, and I often ask for her guidance and help to be more of a mother like her.
Romans 8:28 states, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Do you believe God is in charge and directing things according to his plan?
I absolutely believe this, but living it is a daily decision and a struggle with things are hard. It can be really challenging to remember this in the midst of intense suffering, thankfully I have a lot of great family (primarily my husband) and friends who remind me of this truth!
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