Tonight I think of all the moms who out there in the night sky, barely visible to the naked eye and twinkling just every so often, to the point where you're not really sure if you saw them sparkle at all. The bigger, brighter stars are the ones people see and the smaller, dimmer stars look insignificant. These are the moms (and dads) whose kids, although wonderful and talented in their own rights, are buried under emotional and behavioral issues. The moms (and dads) suffer in silence. They can't share the hellish interactions they have with their kids, because they're horrified that they even participated in the whole thing. You see these moms in the grocery store and they "look" normal. They're pleasant and courteous, hiding their overwhelming pain. They say "fine" in convincing tones when you ask how they are, because the truth of the matter is they can't be honest at that exact moment. They might break, they might crumble and they fear they might lose all of their sparkle if they are remotely honest about how they're doing.
The grandparents of their children don't know have a clue how their now-adult children go to bed each night wondering if tomorrow is the day that the entire family explodes and their child is hauled away in a police car. Their neighbors may hear some noises eminating from their home from time to time. Maybe they've even reached out to share the basic information about their child's diagnoses, but the neighbors can't possibly know their pain; their daily struggles to keep the family in tact for just one more day.
Many of these fading stars try very, very hard to be engaged in a faith based community. They try to go to synagogue, but are told that Temple isn't the best place for children who act out or disrupt in any way. Forget about Hebrew school; they know their kids couldn't possibly hold it together for that long on a weekend morning after going to school all week. They may try children's church, but the atmosphere is far too structuerd and stressful for their child and any behavior that deviates from the "norm" just isn't tolerated. These families slink away from faith based services and events in silence, herding their children out as quickly and quietly as possible. They don't want to be a bother. They don't want their children, who already have so many challenges, to experience any more rejection. So they go home and try to carry on their faith in family-based ways. They do their best to raise their kids to know and love God the way they do.
Many of these moms have friends, even a best friend, but how can someone possibly relate to the extent of emotional anguish that this fading star is feeling? Whom can they trust with their heart's concerns? What casual acquaintance can share their burden? Many of these moms are engaged in on-line communities; live chats with other families whose children have emotional and behavioral issues, listservs targeted specifically to them, and so on. But you can't run to the listserv or e-mail pal EVERYTIME something explodes in your house-you'd monopolize the entire conversation eight days a week. So you don't. You let another explosion, another meltdown go without mentioning it to anyone. Not because you're trying to be a martyr. Because you're too tired. At the end of the day there the words just aren't there to describe what you've yet again endured. You fade a little more.
Tonight I think of you and I will pray for you. For strength. For courage for one more day. That God will meet you and me where we are and restore some sparkle to our lives.