God Has Been Preparing Me For This

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There are many times in my life that I can look back and see that God has been preparing me for certain things, or situations have developed that have made me make choices that I would not have made or been aware of otherwise. I think God has spent many years preparing me to be a mom of a child that struggles and a mom that will speak up and speak out for her child. I am not one to hold my tongue at inequality or injustice.
I began volunteering, then working at a daycare when I was 14yrs old. I mostly supervised the school age kids over the summer or after school. I was the only non-adult to work with the kids. There were a few kids that struggled to follow the rules or get along with other kids. I was drawn to them. I hated to see them have such a hard time. I wanted to see them succeed. I loved all those kids, but the ones that were always in the center of trouble or drama had a special place in my heart. I remember one day as we were going outside another care giver told one little boy that he was banned from the bikes. He had not done anything wrong by that point, we were just going outside for the first time that day after finishing breakfast. I was shocked and a bit angry, (as was the 4yr old). I was also conflicted. I was not an adult, but I was just as in charge. I made sure to play with that little boy until we went inside. I can't remember if I talked to our boss right away or later that day, but I know that child was no longer punished before he did anything wrong.
Later I worked in after school care. I usually felt drawn towards the kids that seem to outcast from the group. We had just one or two kids that struggled, mostly they were fine in afterschool care, but their parents would share their concerns with us about their child's behavior. One day, my boss told me something about one of my favorite students, several other workers in the past had asked to not be at the same school as this child because of all the trouble he “caused”. I found that a bit hard to believe. He didn't “cause” trouble, he did have a hard time dealing with trouble that came up and was not going listen to the adults just because we were in charge. He had to like and respect the counselor (staff at the after school program) and he had to believe that the counselor liked him, then he was pretty easy to work with. Only one other counselor and I had that kind of relationship with him. He was very enjoyable to talk to, and I often wonder what became of him.
After college, I worked at a daycare/preschool as the lead teacher in one of the preschool classes. Again there were a few kids that had been labeled as “trouble makers”. Again most of these kids had a special place in my heart. With a bit of understanding and kindness, they were much more likely to meet the expectations we had for them. One thing that I learned from that job was how different kids behaved for teachers vs. parents. Kids that were easy and compliant for us teachers became defiant and more difficult as soon as they spotted their parents. One day, in tears, a mom asked me what she was doing wrong, why did her child listen to me and not her. At that point, I had not given it all that much thought, but I told her, “I'm not mom”. I only have to be in charge during my “work” hours, all I have to do it pay attention to the kids and play with them. They don't have to try very hard to get attention because giving them attention is my job. When you are a parent, you have many other things that have to be done, unless you have a staff to take care of all the household chores, you have much more to do than just pay attention to your child. I did not have kids at that point, but I have reminded myself of that wisdom since having kids. I am the mom now, and my kids see me at my most stressed out. I have to get them to do things that no one else (besides my husband) has to get them to do. We have to feed them and make sure they are clean, we also have to do this while doing all the household stuff.
After becoming a mom I was in my MOPS group (Mothers Of PreschoolerS), there was a mom that had chronic depression. She was on medication for it and spoke about it. She was not ashamed. (nor should she be, but many are not comfortable talking about it.) She had a son and she had noticed the same things in him that she went through as a child. At this point I believe, he was a “tween”. He was medicated for depression. At this point in my life, I wasn't educated about mental health medication for children. I would say that I was hesitant about the thought of giving mental health medication to children. She explained what she went through as a kid prior to being diagnosed. She wanted to spare her child the struggle she went through. She knew she couldn't spare him from all of it, but she knew how much the medication helped her and she wanted to help her son.
Those kids and parents have inspired me over the years to seek out information on behaviors in children. That lead me to learn about various special needs and mental health issues that affect children. I realized that even with the same diagnosis, treatment plans vary from one family to another, one child to the next. Even in the same family treatment for one child can look different.
There is really no way to be fully prepared for being a parent, and no way to be prepared for a child with special needs. You can read about it, you can watch a friend or family member go through it, but it is completely different once you are a parent.
I fully believe God put those kids and people in my life so that I could learn from them. He knew I would need these learning opportunities to grow to become the mother I need to be for my kids. I still do not know everything I need to know, but I do know where I can go for help and support. I have learned so much in my quest to help other kids and families that I use to help my own. I would not have made all the choices that lead me to those situations without help and guidance from God. It's just up to us to listen to what he's telling us. That is not always easy, but if we pray for clarity and guidance he will not abandon us.

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