I’ve learned a lot this year (and not just because I’ve returned to college to finish my degree). 2013 has been a never-ending string of difficulties and heart aches. In no particular order (and not all referring to the same things) here’s a partial list of some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from this year’s events:
I’ve learned that no matter how attentive of a parent you are and how carefully you try to guard your children from evil (like child molesters, for example), there’s only so much you can do. Evil is strong and unfortunately will try to find a way into even the most lovingly guarded home and family.
I’ve learned that even the best laid parenting plans can’t guarantee something awful won’t happen to one of your children right under your very nose which will cause lasting and horrifying and heart-breaking effects in everyone’s lives (but especially the child involved).
I’ve learned that at any moment, even after your kiddos are grown and you think things are a-okay, that you can be hit with a “Mom, I never told you about this before but …” statement that rocks the very foundations of your world.
I’ve learned that I need to trust my gut. Always. Even when everyone else around tells me I’m silly and over-reacting and concerned about nothing. My gut doesn’t lie.
I’ve learned that you can’t reason with mental illness or trust someone with mental illness to not disrupt your life for no reason whatsoever when they switch from mania to depression and back again.
I’ve learned that I trusted my kids to never lie to me and always believed the best about them. Which is shattering when finding out you’ve been lied to and decieved and fooled by one of them into believing all sorts of untruths just because you’re a trusting mom.
I’ve learned that you aren’t a failure as a parent if you raise a child who falls outside the range of what people consider “normal” (mentally, physically, sexually, whatever). You’re a failure if you fail to love that child and be there for them.
I’ve learned it’s heartbreaking to want to be there for that hurting adult child … but to be pushed away and not allowed to be there at all.
I’ve learned that the news media, even when they actually try, don’t get the story right. And then the incorrect story gets passed on from local station, to network level, to national coverage (Good Morning America, for example) and still misses the point and misconstrues the story.
I’ve learned that internet “trolls” will come out and actually stalk and harrass people online just because they disagree with something (whether or not allergies exist, for example).
I’ve learned that even people in helping professions are often more concerned for their own jobs and their own security than they are for the very people they’re working to help.
I’ve learned that when people are silent when injustice happens before their eyes, evil wins.
I’ve learned that one person (the chancellor at a major university, for example) has the power to run roughshod over the civil rights of a student with a disability … and the culture of silence and fear for their jobs keeps everyone who could’ve helped silent and ineffectual.
I’ve learned that no matter how much you want something (a once-in-a-lifetime month long Renaissance art study abroad program in Florence and Rome, for example), computer glitches can kill those dreams in the blink of an eye and break your heart.
I’ve learned that even happy times (planning a daughter’s upcoming wedding, for example) can be laced with grief and sadness and turmoil when there are family problems and absent fathers and estranged family members to work around. So many tears. So much pain.
I’ve learned that even well-meaning people can throw useless cliches and unhelpful advice at difficult circumstances, causing more pain and hurt.
I’ve learned that life isn’t fair.
I’ve learned that friends come and go (and usually “go” at the worst moments possible).
I’ve learned that life doesn’t come with guarantees.
I’ve learned that sometimes evil actually wins (on this side of heaven, that is).
And believe it or not, I’m not depressed. I’m tired … very tired … more like exhausted … but not really depressed.
This is just where my heart is at today as I look back over the past seven months. 2013 has been one really difficult year for me and mine.
And it goes on. And on. And still on …