Do you know the feeling? You know . . . that I should have been able to protect them. I should have done something different. Why didn’t I see it? I should have acted differently, said something different, even been been somewhere different. If I had, I could have . . .
Yes, all that. Oh man it’s rough. The “what-ifs” will get you every time. And I’m here to give you some advice.
So here’s a little background into my current situation. I was a Special Education teacher for seven years in public school. Now an instructor at a university preparing future Special Education teachers and almost finished with my doctorate in Special Education, I’ve been very trained in seizures. I’ve seen seizures, studied seizures, and even helped students cope with seizures. I know signs, symptoms, and strategies.
Nothing prepared me to watch my son have a severe seizure.
What used to be known as a grand mal seizure, we have learned, is actually a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. And last week, our eight-year-old son seized at home. He vomited, convulsed, lost all control of bodily functions. You name the seizure symptom, our baby had it. A total of three minutes felt like a lifetime. Our world seemed to be completely crashing around us. It took us until our son was already halfway through this terrifying ordeal to realize he was actually having a seizure. My husband compared the scene to what he imagined an exorcism would look like. I can’t accurately describe the fear we felt.
But our son is OK.
Fast-forward to one week later and we received a phone call from the pediatrician. “Do you have time to talk?” she asked. Never a good sign. “Your son’s EEG came back very abnormal. He has Primary Generalized Epilepsy. The EEG picked up multiple absence seizures in the 20 minutes of the test. He needs medicine to control it. Are you OK?”
What a sweet pediatrician. She knew I was quiet on the other end of the phone because I fully believed the EEG would reveal that this was a one-time occurrence. Seizures can be caused by a virus. They can come around one time and never again. To find this would not be the case with our son was overwhelming and terrifying.
And so began the mom-guilt.
I’m educated. I’m involved. I’m a parent who pays attention to my kids, loves them, protects them. I had absolutely no idea. None. Zip. Zero. My husband and I used to laugh about our son being a “space cadet”. He would space out for just a couple seconds and then come back. We would snap our fingers in front of his face and joke. Asher would giggle too. “Haha! Sorry!” And he would run off to play. Yeah . . . those are absence seizures. Hindsight is 20/20. Our son was born with Epilepsy. Primary Generalized Epilepsy is a genetic disorder. We had absolutely no idea.
So I’ve guilted myself for a few days. And I’m slowly getting over it. Slowly . . .
I’m here to tell you—don’t do this to yourself.
There is nothing we could have changed. How on earth could we have known? Just like you, we can only do our best as parents. And just like I said before, the best part is that our son has always had Epilepsy. He was born with it. We just didn’t know.
“Best part?” you ask. “How is that the best part?”
Because our son is OK. He didn’t seize and drown in the bathtub when we weren’t in there watching him. He didn’t seize and fall down the mountain we climbed. He didn’t seize and fall off the dock and into the lake. He didn’t . . . he didn’t . . . he didn’t. There are a million things that could have gone wrong. But there are a million things that didn’t.
Because God has always known our son has Epilepsy. God has protected him for us because He knew exactly when we were supposed to find out. And He will continue to protect him. I don’t have to be the crazy helicopter mom that everything in my human body is telling me to be. God has got this. We found out before our son would begin driving. We found out before encountering serious dangers we wouldn’t have thought twice about. Before . . . before . . . before.
We have a good, good Father.
And you’re good, good parents. Just like we are.
So please join me in stopping the mom-guilt. He’s got this.