When You Feel Like A Terrible Mother.
Today I took my son to his seven-year old well visit. My Asher is a strong, smart, and healthy boy with a vivid imagination and tons of energy. While I adore my son, I'm not one of those moms who defend their child's every move. As much as I love him ... we've had many "come to Jesus" meetings ... often!
As a mother, there are days I feel like Mary Poppins and other days I feel like Miss Hannigan from “Annie”! Can you relate? Overall, I feel I do a pretty good job. Overall, we are pretty good at this mom-thing, ladies! HIGH FIVE! 😊
But today . . . I was made to feel like a terrible mother.
The Physician's Assistant told me my son was Obese.
At the doctor’s office, they did the basics. Height, weight, blood pressure, eye exam, etc. etc. The PA came in to give me Asher’s results. She told me that his eyesight is a bit weak and we may need glasses. Okay. One more thing to deal with, but manageable. Both his fathers family and my own don’t have great eyesight. I’ve been in contact lenses since I was 12!
The PA then told me that he is in the 85 percentile for height but "off the charts in weight". According to society, that little boy in this picture is “obese”. >>>>>
She looked at my paperwork, and could tell my economic status from the type of health insurance I have. (Running a non-profit and starting a business . . . it’s bleak, y’all!) She deducted from my paperwork that I didn’t know how to feed my child.
She said Asher's “obesity" is because of the food I was feeding him. She said I needed to stop feeding him fast food, and start feeding him at home. WHAT?
"After all, fast food is usually the go-to option for moms in your situation because it's cheap. But you need to cook more homemade dinners if you can." - a direct quote.
This woman never asked what Asher’s menu looked like. In fact, if she had, I would have told her my son is that rare breed of kid who hates sweets and candy. He shuns cookies, cereal, candy bars, chips, etc. He isn’t a kid who snacks. He never was. He adores my almond flour, sugar-free, low-carb, chocolate chip cookies. Go figure!
She asked me if I was aware that sugary drinks weren’t good for his diet. I told her he doesn’t drink sugary drinks.
I was too shocked to speak. She proceeded to tell me that we needed to get his weight down so he would fit into the numbers on the chart as they are approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Physician's Assistant told me my son had a Learning Disability.
She moved on, and asked Asher if he needed an absent note for school. Asher replied with pride, “I’m homeschooled”.
“You are?”, this PA asked with raised eyebrow. “So, he’s in the second grade and reading fluently?”
“No ma’am,” I quietly replied, “He missed the birthday cutoff, so while seven, he is in the first grade because of his birthday. He isn’t reading fluently yet, but he is decoding well, and can read CVC words with ease. He is writing his own stories, as well, and is ahead in his curriculum.”
She interrupted, “He should be reading fluently.”.
“I understand that reading fluently is the goal, but kids get to that goal at different speeds. By the beginning of next year, he will be reading fluently, I am sure. But he is excellent in math and science.”
She didn’t ask anything about our situation or why I chose to homeschool. She didn’t ask any questions in fact. She didn’t want to know about the curriculum I use. Maybe that’s not her job, I don’t know. I would have told her that I have a B.S. in Education and a Master’s in writing and literature. Not that you need two college degrees to homeschool. There are so many amazing moms without college degrees that could run circles around those University “doctors”. There are many amazing moms who could have taught this PA a thing or two!
“If she knew my degrees, maybe she wouldn’t be talking down to me so much,” I humbly thought while holding back tears.
She continued. “So Asher is good in math and science, but not reading fluently and he is seven? Keep an eye out, it sounds like the beginnings of a learning disability. You see, in kindergarten they are decoding. In first grade, they are reading CVC words, in second grade - your sons age group - they are reading fluently, and in third grade they are reading for comprehension. It sounds to me, from what you said, the growth in math and lack of growth in reading has all the indicators of a learning disability.”.
My heart sank. A learning disability? Asher? If he had a learning disability, we would help him get all the resources he needs. But a learning disability? Because he is better at math, and isn't reading fluently? What an assumption to make.
“You really should be keeping an eye out on these things, ma’am. Do you know exactly what to look for? If not, I would suggest getting him tested.”
The Physician's Assistant implied I was a terrible mother.
She gave me the referral for the eye exam and out we went. Asher looked at me with his sweet eyes as we walked to the car. “Momma, did I do good? I didn’t cry. Can we get a chocolate milkshake? Oh wait. I’m too fat, and they are not healthy.”
I started to cry.
I called his dad with tears in my eyes, and tried to tell him what the doctor said. I could hardly get the words out. I sat in that parking lot and cried my eyes out. I was a terrible mother. I allowed my son to become “obese”, he can’t see well out of his left eye and I didn’t know, and he may have a learning disability.
Although his dad and I are no longer together, we are still best friends, and I appreciated his encouragement today. He told me not to listen to a woman who obviously didn’t know what she was talking about. He encouraged me that I am a great mom, and that Asher is doing just fine. He reminded me that Asher is growing similarly to his side of the family.
Still, I felt like a terrible mother.
I started to drive to work, and Asher said, “Momma. That lady wasn’t nice to you, and Jesus doesn't like that. Me and Jesus think you are a great Momma.”
Still, I felt like a terrible mother.
My mom called to check on Asher’s visit, and I just cried and cried. She told me what I was like at Asher’s age, and that he is doing just fine. She tried to ease my heart.
Still, I felt like a terrible mother.
I walked through most of today in a fog. What could I be doing better? How many more hours can I find in a day to devote to my son? I’ve rearranged my entire life for my son from my work, to my relationships. Everything is to give him the best possible life I can. But still, what else can I do?
This Assistant rocked my world. She made assumptions because of numbers on a paper. She tried to fit Asher and I into societies chart. She filled me with fear and doubt. She talked down to me, and treated me as if I didn’t know what I was doing.
And I believed her. Until . . .
God spoke to my heart and He said . . .
“You will never fit into societies mold and neither will your son. I made you both to break the mold.”
I stopped dead in my tracks in the parking lot of Asher’s karate class.
“I made you both to break the mold”.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . . “ I Peter 2:9.
Chosen generations don’t fit into molds. Royal priesthoods don’t fit into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention height and weight chart. Holy nations aren’t supposed to match up with what society teaches their youth. Holy nations write the curriculum.
Ladies, if you have been made to feel like a terrible mother because you don’t fit into societies “perfect standard of motherhood”, please take heart. You were never born to fit into that standard. You were never born to be a cookie-cutter mold of the mom next door. You were never meant to cook meals approved by the USDA. Your child was not born to be a number on a page, and a statistic in a classroom.
Don’t get me wrong. Be healthy. Be wise. Be excellent in all you do. Take care of your temple. Take care of your children’s health. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Strive to be the Proverbs 31 woman, by all means! The Word tells us to excel in all things. (1 Corinthians 8:7) (Proverbs 22:29) But don’t measure your success as a mother . . . or a human being for that matter . . . based on the world. (Colossians 3:23)
God spoke to my heart and said . . . RELAX!
If your child isn’t reading fluently yet. Don’t worry. He will.
If your kid is still wetting the bed, don’t worry, she won’t be peeing in her bed in college!
If your kid just can’t get rid of the bottle, no stress. They won’t be carrying it on the football field in eleventh grade.
If you spend most of your day feeling like the worst mother on the face of the earth . . . Don’t listen to those voices who would tell you that you are anything less than a royal priesthood and a holy nation!
The Physician's Assistant made me feel like a terrible mother, but THE GREAT PHYSICIAN told me I was right on track . . . and so are you!
God reminded me, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).
So I remind you, dear mother. Stop putting yourself down. Stop measuring your success as a mother against Pinterest, the squares of your Instagram feed, your mother-in-laws advice, judgmental physicians assistants, or the voices in your own head.