I can’t even read them. Those harsh, accusatory, squinty-eyed comments that people left everywhere when a baby boy was drug away and killed before his daddy’s eyes. When a little boy fell into a cage with a dangerous beast, or even when a boy accientally knocked over a Lego sculpture. (That last one is so pathetic, it’s not worth talking about.)
They say the parents weren’t watching, weren’t being responsible, hadn’t taught their kids a thing about obedience, not touching, not reading signs, and on and on. Seriously??
You know what? I was that terrible parent.
That was me.
I had a baby boy who drowned.
He was 2 years old.
I wasn’t watching him 100% of the time, and there you go – 5 minutes later he was being swept downstream in a current so strong an adult could barely stand up. I know because it was only the adrenalin coursing through my body that gave me the strength to stand up, hanging onto a tree branch for support, feeling around the creek-bottom with my stocking feet, screaming and crying into the wind.
A huge burden of guilt came crashing down on my back the minute I realized it wasn’t going to end well. I couldn’t look my husband in the eyes for hours. I didn’t blame the Deputy who was over-zealous in examining me and my parenting. I heard the cold accusations through his standard questions: “Didn’t you know that creek was dangerous? Do you normally allow your kids to play outside unsupervised?”
I wearily answered him, just wanting him to leave so I could flop onto my bed and cry my heart out. (He later was reprimanded by his superiors for his uncaring method of questioning.) I didn’t care. I knew he was right; I had let my baby play outside alone. For 5 minutes while I started lunch. His lunch – hotdogs. There is something exquisitely painful about putting hotdogs into a pan to heat, and an hour later serving them to 2 children instead of 3.
Do you know what it feels like to be having a wonderful, happy day, then to be plunged into the worst living nightmare? And to know it is your fault? You can’t blame anyone else. And you feel like everyone is blaming you, even when they don’t say it?
I am so thankful I have loving, caring friends and family who never blamed or shamed me. They encouraged, prayed, cried, and hugged. But they never said the obvious: “Why DID you let him play outside when you knew that canal was a mere 100 feet from your door?”
My husband could’ve allowed it to make him bitter at me, but he didn’t. He worked through his own struggles without blaming me.
Jesus has healed me from the pain, set me free from the guilt, and is teaching me to shut my ears to the Devil’s accusations. He can heal you too, if you are struggling with something similar. Jesus is the Great Healer!
I wonder how many of the name-callers on social media these days have ever been responsible for a small child 24/7? Do they know how fast a toddler can scale a fence or run toward a croc-infested lake? Have they ever searched for a missing child with their heart in their throat, screaming wild-eyed, and cold with adrenaline?
If they have, how could they possibly be so cruel? As soon as I heard of the croc story, my heart went to those parents, especially the mother. She is the one who will live with the guilt long after the world has forgotten about them. She will go to bed with red eyes for weeks. She will find a random missed sock in the laundry and break down all over again. And the father… he will question every move and replay that scene over and over. He will wonder why he wasn’t just a bit faster, a bit stronger. He will cry in the shower and when he is driving alone to work.
I don’t know the details of the story. No one does, really, except the ones on the scene. I know that more signs or a gator round-up isn’t the answer. That may prevent some tragedies and that’s great. But the thing is; hard, painful, searing things happen. And when they do, we need to rally around each other with love and prayer and hugs and tears. We can grow that way. This condemning and criticizing is killing our souls and our country.
I have no words of judgment. How can I?
That terrible parent was me, once.
Can we learn, somehow, to love and support each other even when they make mistakes or – gasp – have an accident? We all, ALL do stupid things. Some of us get away with it and no one knows. Some of us pay dearly for our mistakes.
Walk a mile in their moccasins. Love like Jesus. Practice the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. And if that’s too hard to do, at least take your mother’s advice and ‘be quiet if you don’t have anything good to say’.
Read my story here: Andy
GDN from PA says
thank you so much for this encouragement! I did not know you experienced this heart wrenching pain!? I love your passion for life, Jesus and others! blessings for sharing!
Kay Schrock says
Yes, sadly, it is never far from my mind and heart. I edited the post to add a link to my story, if you wish to read it.
Janet Fleming says
I to have lost a child. He was 19 years old at the time fixing to turn 20 in two months. He committed suicide As a mother I blamed myself. Why didn’t I see it coming? What could I have done different? Why was I such an awful mother she didn’t see the signs? That was 20 years ago and I still feel it everyday. I still turn my head in a store when I hear the word “Mom” from somebody that sounded like him, thinking its him. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your story. God Bless
Kay Schrock says
I’m so sorry to hear your story, Janet! May God heal you from the crushing pain and guilt! I too, still turn my head when I hear a small voice… We will never be the same, but I pray God can use it to bring humility and compassion to my heart. <3 Love and blessings.
Again, Kay, you are such an inspiring and truly passionate, strong, courageous lady, wow!!! I can’t even imagine the pain that you have felt, and especially the battering you may have received but never heard during that time, because like you said, you’ve been there. No one knows what it is like until they’ve felt that, the adrenaline rush of not seeing your child standing next to you, but gone… and leaving you helpless and weary.
In todays day and age, it’s not if, it’s when, every time we turn around something has come up and people can’t help but bash and blame, point fingers, and cuss everyone else… there is no more love and kindness. No more compassion on the hurt. No more working together to overcome evil.
Love you, my friend, and I pray for you and yours. Y’all are an amazing family!!
Kay Schrock says
“Working together to overcome evil”… YES! I want to see people showing up with a casserole again, instead of a pitchfork. Thank you for your kind words, friend! I praise God for putting you in my life!
Eunice McBryant says
It’s so easy in today’s world to look for someone to blame. Accidents will happen. We don’t live in a perfect world. As parents we can do our very best but there are those occasions when it’s not enough. You nor any of the others you mentioned are a “bad” parent. Life happens & there are times it rips our heart out & chews it up. It’s in those times we must curl up in our Saviors loving arms & shut out the comments & looks from those who don’t understand.
The pictures & stories you share are proof you’re a good mom. Your little one just went on ahead to help Jesus get things ready for the rest of you!!
Kay Schrock says
I hope I didn’t come across as seeking pity – I have found healing in Jesus. I wanted to share how something like this feels to a parent living it. I so pity the criticism they have endured!
I like how you said “curl up in our Saviour’s loving arms”!! Beautiful picture. Thanks for taking time to comment. Blessings!
aww.. how did I ever miss this post? I just cried my way through it.. Thankful for you and for Jesus. Love ya!
Kay Schrock says
Love you too! Thankful you were there for me when I needed you. <3