Kindergarten, Mental Illness, Plans


When weather turns coolish and aisles in stores fill to the brim with survival tools for the aisles of schools, I breathe deep my children's essence. There are only 24 days until my oldest baby and his brother, just 1 year younger than he, walk into a place where I will not be.
     I feel this frantic, anxious, crazy animal clawing at my heart. I push it down but it comes dragging it's way up through tears and too-hard hugs and long-stares that leave my children feeling like they are in trouble .
     I'm in trouble you guys, I'm in so much trouble. This heart, how can it take this every year? What is to be done with a mama's heart that is wrung out and filled up to over-flowing and wrung out again, as you watch your very soul grow up and need you less and less? I had A PLAN, you know. I had a good plan. A noble plan. One that involved homeschooling and Charlotte Mason and classical music and fresh air all hours of the day. Where I could hug them and snuggle them whenever I wanted. know how life happens. Life likes to really screw you over sometimes. Maybe you had a birth plan that didn't go as you had hoped. At all. That serene, beautiful, powerful vision you had created for months and months was ripped to shreds in mere moments, and you were left reeling with the trauma of something that is real, raw heartbreak. Or a marriage that you had built up as this image of something precious and beautiful and full of love and a few years in and things are shit and you look at your spouse and wonder...50 more years of this? How can it be? Where did we go wrong? Or maybe you thought you had gotten those addictions under control. Those demons that you had hidden so well for so long, and you look in the mirror and who is this staring back? Those eyes are dead, that face is not yours, this life is someone else's, anyone else's...


     I grieve deeply, from the bottom of my soul, this plan I had for my boys. I homeschooled Jeremiah for preschool, and taught him the basics of reading and writing and manners and I was stressed out 90% of the time. I would get so impatient, so consumed with the fear that he wasn't going to learn it fast enough, hiding in my bed for hours in a state of numbness from the overwhelming task before me... not realizing, darling he's only 5. He's a baby...take a deep breath and read him a book. Soak up those baby blues, rock him, hold him, because remember when those grandmas would whisper from their sad hearts to your impatient one..."It goes by so fast, hold on to them, cherish them, it goes by so fast." and no one understands how true that is than those that are struggling with mental illness. When you can't pull yourself up out of the dark pools of depression and anxiety and years slip by and you realize, your heart just shatters, oh my god, he's in 1st grade. I want my baby back. I want him back, just send me back Lord. I promise I'll cherish everything more deeply, I'll put my phone down and I'll hold his little baby body all the freaking time.


     But you can't go back. And you would probably do everything the same because you can't wish away or pray away this mental illness that has stolen so much from your life.And you look at this boy, this almost-7-year-old that is the mini-me of your husband, and you look at your almost-Kindergartener, who has your eyes and your temper, and you cry and you grieve for this life that hasn't been fair to them at all, for the trauma they've had to endure their short lives living with a mommy who struggles with reality and life and pretty much everything, every single day.
     And I can't play the blame game. I can't wish my present away with thoughts of the past. All I can do is grab them and breathe deep their essence, I can make peace with the fact that I am just different from some moms, similar to others, and praise God there is a place where I can send my babies, where they will be loved and taught well, and I can do my very best to create peace and stability at home. Because my new plan is to just love them, all-out, on-fire, non-stop, crazy love them. If I can do that best from this place of quietness at home, while they are there, I am giving myself permission to do that.


     Some may roll their eyes, and say, "Jeeze, it's just school." Don't let those people minimize your pain. It's real, and it's ok to be sad. I'm not going to sit in the pain alone, hiding the reality of my mental illness and all the years has taken from me, just because some may call me ridiculous or petty or over-emotional, or crazy. There are more of us out there than you realize. I won't stay silent, I won't back away from reach out of my darkness to yours.

     Do not let your broken plans create shame in your heart and mind. This life is nothing if not unpredictable. And I rejoice with those who's lives go according to plan, I praise God they got what they wanted. But for those of us picking up the pieces of a life that doesn't make sense most days, and we've thrown plans out of the window and just sit patiently at the feet of our God, waiting for His timing, His direction, His healing...I encourage you to trust. TRUST Him, because He isn't done creating beautiful life from these bitter, soul-extinguishing ashes. You may be sitting in those ashes right now, covered, black, stinking like all hell, but my dear, sit there and don't rush things. I PROMISE YOU, I freaking promise you, the beauty that will break through as those ashes are being washed away with your tears and His tears and His grace...there's nothing on earth that can come even come close to that kind of joy. Nothing. And I've been in some dark, disgusting, putrid ashes before.


  1. Marybeth, you are a woman who thinks, feels, processes and highly senses. When we as parents have our own "stuff" we are still dealing with, having small children (not to mention four boys) provides little mental and emotional space to go inward to connect with those parts of us that stomp their feet for attention. Your boys know you love them. I affirm you in being your honest self; to affirm that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that following God's lead does not have to look anything other than the way you are choosing now to live with strength. Thank you for sharing your self this publicly.


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