Being a perfect parent

It’s been a crazy few days…in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. We couldn’t get to church this morning because Boss Man returned from his uncle’s funeral at 2 this morning, and I stayed up to watch cows so he could sleep. I took a few moments this morning for myself and did a little thinking, I guess some would call it reflecting, maybe others would call it meditating.

I’m reading a book called “99 Ways to Raise Spiritually Healthy Children,” by Kathleen Long Bostrom. It’s not my usual reading fare…but any time I see something that I think will help me be a better parent, I’m game to read it.

The first two pages went straight to my heart…and I know I’ll be hooked for the other 98 ways (but I’ll only read them one chapter per day, so I can soak in the information). The first thing the book tells me is that you should forget about being a “perfect” parent. Instead, work on being “pretty good” or “good enough.” The term that they use that spoke most to my heart? Be a perfect parent for your child.

Amen.

This chapter came with three things to always remember: 1) Remind yourself that you’re only human. Let go of mistakes and missed opportunities. 2) Recognize things that you can’t control. Go with the flow. 3) Remember the big picture. You’re not in this alone, and believe in grace.

You ARE a good parent, you just can’t base your judgment off what others think. You can’t use someone else’s ruler to measure your worth as a parent. So stop doing it.

Why does this speak to me so much? I don’t think these words would have stopped me so completely this morning, had it not been for our youngest son – you all know him as George on this blog.

Before George was born, we knew that he was trouble. At 13 weeks pregnant, I became very, very sick and ended up having an emergency gall bladder removal. The risk of the surgery to his survival was pretty high, but the risk of leaving it in was high as well. We moved forward, and he showed a great amount of resilience. My right kidney gave me all sorts of trouble, and we finally got to the answer during the final weeks of my last pregnancy. I have a twist in the tube that goes from my kidney to my bladder, and pregnancy would close off that twist…blocking my kidney and causing lots of pain. Stents were painful as well, so I tried my best to make it as far as I could.

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy with George, we did an amniocentesis to see if we could deliver early. At 37 weeks, it shouldn’t have been much of a problem, but my doctor wanted to make sure. It was a good thing she did, because even at that stage in my pregnancy, his lungs were very immature. We waited until 39 weeks to the day, then delivered by repeat c-section. (I had one regular delivery and three c-sections.)

He had a few hours of trouble with breathing, but nothing major. I spent a few extra days in the hospital because of problems with my cesarean. George and I left the hospital with a clean bill of health.

But that bubble didn’t last long.

Late-onset jaundice, troubles gaining weight, something that seemed like colic, but not…finally I gave in and went to the doctor, but our regular doctor wasn’t in. Blood work, lab tests. We left the clinic with promises of phone calls with answers. The clinic is an hour from our farm, so I took advantage of the time to get a few groceries and other items not available in our small community.

My skinny, tiny little boy. My heart.

My skinny, tiny little boy. My heart.

Something told me to check our home voicemail. We received a message from the doctor himself, asking for me to return his call ASAP. (I don’t know why they didn’t use the cell phone number I gave them.) I did, and received the news that we needed to get to the hospital. We were being admitted.

What was wrong? It seemed like everything. Nothing made sense. Off-the-charts liver enzymes, critically low blood sugar, etc. There were more lab tests with flags than normal. And we didn’t have a clue what was going on…he was three months old.

Who can deny this determination? Meet all of your challenges head-on.

Who can deny this determination? Meet all of your challenges head-on.

That began a whirl-wind of appointments, specialists and 18-months not knowing what was going on. I pushed and pushed…knowing somewhere there would be an answer. Failure-to-thrive is a symptom, not a diagnosis.

Finally, the fourth physician that was involved at Mayo (or maybe sixth? seventh? I lose track.) came up with a long-shot. Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. (You can check out the OTC tab on top) Yes, spell check, I know that’s spelled right. I’ve had to spell it many, many times.

Low-protein diet, tons of doctor’s visits, extreme caution with illnesses…it’s been a crazy ride. Imagine, a rancher’s son living the life of a vegan – yet stricter. But the payoff? Weight. Curiosity. Growth. Imagination. My son.

I have NOT been a perfect parent. But I have been the perfect parent for my son.

According to science, my son isn’t expected to live to see the age of 5. He’ll be 4 in April. According to science, my son should have developmental disabilities. His MRI shows the gaps where his white matter should be. He’s an extremely intelligent little boy who knows all his letters, colors, numbers and shapes. He has started adding and subtracting and can read simple words. According to science, he should be sickly and weak. He hasn’t been in the hospital since last year at this time. According to science, he shouldn’t be growing. His blood work shows that he produces no measurable amount of growth hormone. His pituitary gland is small and malformed. Yet he weighs 42 pounds and has grown three inches this year.

We are beating odds and blowing away science. And we won’t quit pushing.

No, I am not a perfect parent. But I am perfect for my son. And he is perfect for me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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18 thoughts on “Being a perfect parent

  1. I have been following you and George. What a struggle you have had, and what a time y’all will have. I will enjoy seeing George beat the odds and running headlong into 5. PTL every day!

    • Amen! I intend to see him running headlong into 50! Perhaps someday we’ll find out that his variation of this…disease? condition? disorder?…whatever word you want to use…maybe we’ll find out that with early enough detection and treatment, we can save a bunch more lives. I’m not sure where this road is leading us, but I know that I’ll push for every inch we can travel!

  2. Wow! I’m inspired by your comments! George does, indeed, have a “perfect” parent. God “designed” George for your family. He makes no mistakes. It is amazing how George continues to defy odds. I predict he will be a blessing to you and others all of his life. And, I love that you are raising him on the farm – best place for little boys to be! Stay strong! ♥

    • Thank you…and yes, he has already been a blessing to our family more than I could ever express. And I couldn’t imagine raising him anywhere but here! The support of family, friends and those that reach out is what makes the days go by…and that adorable, heart-stopping smile.

  3. Wonderful news…wonderful parenting message! A mother’s love cannot be challenged. Our youngest struggles with the learning disability of dyslexia…yet the school doesn’t know how to teach or work with him…perserverance to do what is right and be the advocate your child needs. God’s guidance led us to the help we needed and the money to pay the bills…and last year to change WI legisation to help these struggling students and add teacher training. He is now 17 years old, an extremely visual and audio bright individual. He has the mind of Einstein and I know will invent something Ag related. I learned through this process “Any child can learn, you just have to find the right method to teach him.” Your message is even stronger, “Be the parent your child needs you to be.” You are not only teaching George by your example, but your other sons, too. I am sure you have the admiration of many, but they don’t show it. Val, we need more people like you in this world, you are one of God’s undercover angels.

  4. George is beating odds I believe because God gave him to you and your husband. You are tenacious and absolutely the perfect parents for him…and your other three children. You inspire me as a mother and friend. Thank you.
    Remind. Recognize. Remember. I am keeping these with me!

    • The inspiration occurs mutually, my dear friend. And thank you. Thank you for giving me strength, and thank you for being there when I need it most. It’s funny how God works so mysteriously…yet completely fulfills what we need.

  5. Oh my heart, my heart, I was so moved when I read this blog. What a precious gal you are, what a precious family and an adorable, precious little guy! We have learned to love your little man and your family thru this journey with you!! We pray for you all and believe for awesome results (seeing them already..yay)!!!

  6. This post really touched my heart. I loved it from beginning to end. You are the perfect parent for precious George, because God designed him just for you and your husband. I know George sensed your strength from the beginning, obviously a genetic trait in your family. What an amazing little man to defy the silly mathematical odds of science. I’ll be praying for you, your family and George and that he may continue to be a growing little man, destined to be a cattle rancher like Daddy someday!

  7. This brought tears to my eyes. I adore you, Val. And if I ever have kids I hope to be as nurturing, protective, and dedicated as you. (I mean, that’s a long reach because I like to tell people that I’ll be a “lifetime heifer” but…in the off chance I have kids…ya know.)

    Thank you for such a touching post. You’re a wonderful lady, and you have a wonderful family.

    • If you ever decide to travel down the road of parenthood, Kelly, I know that you would rock it. But if you choose not to, I know that you will still be an integral part in many children’s lives. You have a way and a light about you that makes it impossible for people not to be drawn to you. Keep using it. You’ve been a blessing to me, little one. Thank you for that.

  8. Hi…. I just wanted to say hi because my boy has just been diagnosed with this after a stint in icu with encephalitis after a vomiting bug.
    He is 3. We never had any signs of this before. He too is such a bright little fella and I thank the lord that there has been no brain damage after his icu stint.

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