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In my mid-40s, I began to long for a baby. We didn’t get much encouragement from friends and family. My husband is a high-functioning quadriplegic, and I was considered way too old to start a family. But our marriage was stable, we were used to obstacles, we were financially prepared, emotionally experienced, and our careers were established. I began to paint my own sublime mental portrait of parenting tranquility. What could go wrong?

At 48, I delivered a healthy baby boy, and he was perfect. We adored him. The baby we had longed for and prayed for, we had.

And then, at 12 years old, he began to become a teen. By age 14, we had a disrespectful, angst-filled teenager. What happened? Hadn’t he been longed for, prayed for and loved?

And the emotional fallout. Whatever made me think I could be a parent? I could never be a good mother, and I should have known that. Nights were worse. Remorse crowded my mind. I’d prayed for a son, God gave me one, and look what I’d done! Though many of our son’s behaviors seemed normal to other parents, they were not okay for us. In my eyes, I was now a certified failure as a mother.

The portrait I had painted in my earlier naivete was so marred, I could barely see those images anymore. Like my life, it was crumbling before my eyes. My husband and I reached out in desperation, dug down, and relied fully on God.

One night in prayer, I felt as if God grabbed me by the shoulders and gave me a shake. I began to see that my mistakes needed to be addressed, but my real focus should be God’s power to intervene in our lives and the lives of our children. Our son was young, but he was making preliminary choices toward an end, his eternity. I was wasting time beating myself up.

The days continued to be challenging. When we thought that things could not get worse, they did. We continued the fight for what was right because it was our son we were fighting for. It didn’t feel like a fight against him, but a fight for him against an unseen, powerful enemy.

Our trials have accomplished something in our family. Being willing to allow God to work has unfolded a richness of gratitude for even the smallest things that go well. A grateful heart gathers patience and endurance and grows faith in our Lord and Savior. Our son has seen what his parents do when the going gets tough. We hang in there trusting God.

It has been nearly three years since the beginning of our struggle. The moments I spend with my son are now more precious and enjoyable than ever, not only because they are fewer but because I no longer fight every battle. The big battlethe spiritual one, for the prize at the end of this lifeis the most important battle of our lives.

Today I saw my son’s explosive outburst in the kitchen. Everything was wrong, and his parents were at fault. I watched him smash his boots down and shout out words I’d rather not hear. Complaining and lashing out, he slammed out the front door to load his truck. I always stand for a hug when he leaves, no matter the circumstances, but today was particularly hurtful, jabbing too close to the heart. I sat silently on the sofa as he brushed past.

I stood up and crossed the room to gaze out our backyard at the birds twittering in the fruit trees and to think and pray for a moment, and quickly my son was back in the house behind me.

“I need a hug, Mama.”

It had been years since I had heard those words from my 17-year-old. I felt him lay his cheek atop my head as he sighed, and I became aware, as a mama would, that his anger was mostly directed at himself. As he opened the front door to leave a second time he whirled, and over his shoulder whispered, “I love you, Mama.”

Our family portrait is unfinished, but now there is the bright and unfading hope of God’s promises unmistakably shining through. We are winning the big battle, one parenting day at a time.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect results, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Laura Childers

I'm a retired RN who loves walking at midnight, stand-up comedy, and surprises.

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