Sainthood or Motherhood? One in the Same ♥

Recently, a friend of mine posted the following comment on the private board where many of the thinking moms and dad met. She wrote:

“Sorry, but I have to vent (and swear a little). What is pissing me off today is people acting like I am a saint and saying “I don’t know how you do it”. What pisses me off is that I am not a saint. I am a very flawed human being. I do what I do because no one else will do it and I have to do it. What makes me so mad is that they use it as an excuse to either not help or to do a really crappy job at helping (so I don’t ask them to help). Everything is dumped into my lap and they use the excuse that they couldn’t do what I do. I call bullshit.”

This post resonated with me, and I probably read it about eight times before I commented. When I did, I saw that I was not the only one it hit home with. Here is a sampling of the many comments that were posted in response:

.”BULLSHIT – stop complimenting and roll up your damn sleeves and do it right!!! You go, girl!!!!! “

· “Yep, yep yep. As if we have a choice, right? I hear ya too.”

· “You nailed it! They’re not complimenting, they’re manipulating. Lazy piece of grumble grumble…”

· “Such a great insight. They relieve their own guilt by saying “God chose her for a reason.” SUCKS!!!!”

· “I call DOUBLE BULLSHIT!! You should tell them, “If someone doesn’t step in and help me out around here, I’m not going to be able to do it forever and you WILL have to do what I do….so start doing!” We should form a union, then we could go on strike…at least for a few hours 😉 Hugs girl xo”

It was apparent that what my friend was feeling when she posted her vent, was a sentiment shared by many. Are we proud of our thoughts? Absolutely not! Reading them back makes some of us feel guilty – but in the moment – the one where sisterhood and support takes over, we chimed in so that our friend knew she was not alone. She was allowed to vent. She was allowed to feel overwhelmed and unsupported. It became our job to accompany her in this feeling and let her know that we were at her side. This is what we do for one another. We provide emotional support and give each other permission to speak our true feelings no matter how ugly they make us feel afterwards.

As the Thinking Mom who is affectionately known as “Saint”, the post struck a deep chord with me.  I stand among so many others who are fighting the good fight. What makes me worthy of such a strong and complimentary nickname? It certainly is not because I am perfect, because I am not. It is not because I do not have a potty mouth from time to time, because I do. It is not because I am without anger, because I have plenty.  Religious? I have my beliefs, but have to admit, that God has landed on my “list” a few times in recent history. I struggle with my faith and although I pray it can once again be as strong as it was, my belief system is definitely a work in progress. I am sure you’re wondering by now, as I often do, why I am called ‘Saint’?

I am just like all of you. I am a flawed human being. I do what I do because I have no one else to do it. I have people who often tell me they do not know how I do it. This does not make me unique? It makes me just like YOU! I may have entered this “game” under very different circumstances, but I am in it and playing by the same rules. You see, the reasons why Tex so graciously bequeathed me with this name are many, but the most important is because of my daughter. She came into my life when she was a little over four years old. The youngest of six children being raised by a heroin addict. Her oldest brother was one of my students so I knew a tiny bit about the family. Why, of all people was I asked to help out when the state decided to take the children into protective custody, I do not know – but they did – and I said yes. Granted, I thought it was a short term arrangement at first, but I said yes all the same, and kept saying yes to every extension until the permanence was inevitable.

I had no idea the extent of her disabilities. When I say no idea, I mean NO idea. Sure, she had delayed speech, and according to her brothers she had asthma, but the rest of it was either undiagnosed or unreported. Knowing what I know now, and learning that her birth mother never followed through with early intervention services, my guess is that DYFS (Division of Youth and Family Services) knew much more than they disclosed, but that is water under the bridge at this point, and in a way, I am glad. Had it all been documented correctly, I would never have been allowed to adopt her as she would have been classified as “medically fragile” requiring a home where the caretaker does not work full time. As a single mom, that was certainly not an option for me.

People often ask if I would have adopted her had I know the extent of her disabilities and deficits. How do you answer that question? Before I lived it, I would have figured I could handle (solve) anything. Now that I have lived it, AND fallen head over heels in love with her, how do you say “nah, had I known I would have run in the other direction”. It is ridiculous to even think such a thing. THAT hardly makes me a saint. Yes, she has a laundry list of genetic, medical, educational and emotional diagnoses. Yes, it would be a ton easier if I did not work full time. On average, after a full day of work and school I tote her to four or five appointments a week in three different counties on top of three days of swimming for lung development. But this does not make me a saint either. It just makes me her mom – you know, the one whose job it is to do what is best for her child. Ok – it also makes me tired, very tired, exhasted – but certainly not a saint.

I stand among many when I say, we do what we do because we love our children. We do not stop to question how it will get done, or why WE have to do it. We do it because we really have no choice. I think the frustration of most comes in when they have people close by who could help, but do not. I am not in that position since I live a minimum of 45 minutes from my closest relative. I have a few good friends who are willing to jump in when need be, but no family to dump on. I know I am in it alone and do not have time to stop and feel sorry for myself. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? NO! I can’t tell you how many people have suggested I slow down and not take as much on. I am not in perfect health myself and can’t deny that more sleep and less stress would be just what the doctor ordered. However, out of the many that have lectured me on taking better care of myself, do you want to take a guess on how many have offered to step in and take something off my plate so I can do so?

Does this mean you are supposed to stop noticing how much a thinking mom or dad gets done in a day? Stop complimenting? Stop acknowledging? No Way!!!! Let’s face it – we are human too and a compliment from time to time can’t hurt. So please, while those compliments or caring words are spilling from your lips, don’t forget to also ask what you can do to help – AND MEAN IT. To one mom it might be to learn what the dietary restrictions for her family are and prepare a meal of two for the family. Another mom may just need someone she trusts to watch her non-verbal child so she can attend a school function for her neuro-typical child. Someone else might simply need an errand run or dishes done. I can only speak for myself when I say it is sometimes impossible to get it all done and to have someone do something as simple as put out my garbage cans, or run to the dry cleaners/post office for me would be a gift. We really are extremely easy to please and highly appreciative creatures.  A small deed goes a very, very long way. Try it– you’ll see 🙂

With Love,

~ Saint

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30 Responses to Sainthood or Motherhood? One in the Same ♥

  1. What is a Saint, really? We think of it as a perfect person, but in fact it is not. It is a person who does what he or she does with joy. They are probably really seeing you more as a hero. Someone who comes in a rescues this person. A Saint experiences Heroic Joy. Hmmmm.

    Not being a Catholic, I found this article to be very interesting. It is more spiritual than religious, which is how I see the world. I hope you find it as useful as I did. There are many nuggets of wisdom in this article.

  2. sainttmr says:

    Thank you Allie ~ as I said in my blog – we are all ONE 🙂

  3. Melinda says:

    I hear what you say and understand and agree totally with most of what you say … I have been “idolized” at times too and called an actual saint by some of my dearest friends and I always feel that the honor is far too high … that I too fall way short of that , have had my share of wow, I can’t believe I just did or said that …. I oh so frequently fail ….however … I don’t think that folks who say things like ” I don’t know how you do it” are necessarily trying to escape helping out.. at least in my life it would not be so. I see it as sympathy … a sense of helplessness in the folks saying the words …wishing they knew what to do to make my life easier for me, without the capacity to do so…. or without realizing how they could help….or worse yet, their own acknowledgement that they fear they could not walk in my shoes and are grateful they didn’t have to find out if they could … because they feel they would be a failure …. Have you ever heard of someones deep deep sorrow … and thought … wow, I am not sure I could face that? I have…. I remember a time when a dear friend of mine’s entire family was whiped out while she was at work … In a stroke of a second … her house exploded … and they were just simply gone. They had all gathered to eat a thanksgiving meal … Parents, children, Grandparents, husband, sibblings … all gone while they waited for her to get off work ….Sometimes all there is to do is listen …. but in desperation … many told her, I don’t know how you do it …. as she was left with all the aftershock of the mess that followed ……Most of my friends and families are far away from me and can only lend a listening ear to vent … and truly they feel hopeless in my situation to help …and want to only extend a hand of sympathy … don’t think it is meant to cast further pain or harshness into our lives. … There are times I truly don’t know how my now alone in this world friend finds the strength to carry on … and yet she finds the time to reach out and offer friendship on a daily basis to those around her … You are right … we carry on because there is no one else to do so … but sadly there are those who do not … they quit, they walk out … they lock up their children … they abuse severely their children ….they don’t even pretend to care. I think it is important to remember in our walk with the journey we are on … we do not only what we do because we are mothers. We do what we do because we are strong determined fighters … ones who care deeply for the children that have been placed in our care…. ones who would never consider any other option but love … But sadly there are those in the world that can not even offer that … I believe that is at the core of the statement …. I don’t know how you do it …. I think is simply …. I fear how I would handle your situation ….

  4. Allie says:

    I LOVE every word of this post. If only I had a nickel for every time I have heard “I don’t know HOW you do it!”. Bravo, Saint!

  5. Happy says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

  6. Shiri says:

    I also get a lot of the “How do you do it?”, but I also get a lot more of the “Poor you” which I hate even more. I don’t need anyone’s pity, I am strong without it and it is not helpful. If you feel bad for me the best thing you can do is lend a hand instead of offering a pity party. What I hate even more than a pity party, is people close to me telling me that I brought this hard life on myself. I decided to do these crazy special diets, I decided to wake up every 3 hours at night to do out there protocols, I decided to pick a school 40 minutes away b/c it was the only “mainstream” school willing to take an ASD kid with a shadow. Could I just give up and throw him in a cluster program that babysits him and treats him like he has zero intelligence? Could I just give up the diets and the supplements? If a parent of a child with a rare form of cancer with no known treatment just gave up and did nothing would that be ok too? I did not choose Autism, but I do choose to fight for my son. Just b/c I have high standards and high hopes doesn’t mean its an excuse to not step up and help.

    • sainttmr says:

      I agree with you 100% Shiri – I find pity to be the worst. I think the reason I keep so much of what goes on to myself is because I can’t stand those looks anymore. Like you, I do not want anyon’es pity~ever. That is the best thing about my fellow thinkers – we empathize, we love, we support – but it is never about empty pity. It sounds like you are an amazing mom and quite a revolutionary yourself. I love your high standards and i think your son is quite a lucky duckling <3 Thanks you so much for your comments.

  7. B.K. says:

    I LOVE that you addressed this. LOVE IT. Love you my friend!

  8. Ana Maria Abba says:

    Wow you are truly amazing!

    • sainttmr says:

      I am no different from YOU and everyone else. I am just a mom who loves my daughter, and am blessed to be surrounded by the most supportive thinkers a girl could find. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  9. sainttmr says:

    Oh hell no – if I am going to meet up with you it is going to be for a drink – NOT to exchange my cleaning :)…and I agree, being a single parent is not reserved to those in a one person household. In some ways it is actually easier for me since I know it all falls on me. I find that many end up fighting with their “partner” who is not doing their share which makes it harder. Love you Mama Bear <3

  10. mamabeartmr says:

    Love you!!!! So true…so darn true. I’ve felt like a single mom for a very long time (and I’m married) so it certainly applies to everyone in your life to step up from time to time and help out. Let me know if I can ever pick up your dry cleaning ; ) I’d happily do it for you. I MEAN IT!!!! <3

  11. You’ll always be my sweet Saint. Love you girl!!! This is beautiful and so honest…. So proud of you!!!

  12. Heidi Scheer says:

    Love it!

  13. INwarriormama says:

    I have plenty of people in my life who say the exact same thing..”I don’t know how you do it?” and I want to say “Well, you can always come spend a day with me and find out how” . This life is not easy, it is damn hard. I envy those I see with fewer problems, and “typical” children doing all those “normal” things like birthday parties, sleep over’s, dinner’s out, etc…with 6 kids, 1 with ASD..those things are impossible. I wish those people who think I am “super mom” would OFFER to help…I guess to them I look just too damn capable of doing it on my own so that is my curse and my blessing. It sure is getting harder and harder to hold it all together though.

    • It’s easier for people to just stick their heads in the sand. I use to be one of those ostriches. I’m ashamed now of my past ignorance and the ways I *didn’t* reach out to others. ASD has humbled me. For that… I’m actually grateful. I’m a much more empathetic and caring person.

    • sainttmr says:

      I am sorry it is getting harder for you. Perhaps you should share this with some of those people with a simple “hint hint” attached 🙂

      Keep the faith <3

    • mtngtmom says:

      Yes, I think people look at the One You and think No Way Just Me could do all that. I did find that hiring 2 babysitters, or having both grandparents, or a whole family come take over for me for a day so I could get my own personal doctor appointments (wow, a couple hours alone in a waiting room is almost heaven!)

      We are strong, but we can break, and you my dear friend, need a break. Perhaps like me, you haven’t had a day off to your self in a decade. Could you recruit a “few” where “one” couldn’t manage what you do? And leave a clear, concise, comprehensive list for them to follow……and keep your cell phone on “silent” for the first hour so they get confidence in working it out themselves!


  14. Karla says:

    I think Saint is appropriate! Its tough enough with two parents, I dont know how single parents do it. You all are amazing!

  15. Sunshine says:

    So, can we just change your nickname to Mom? Love this…so very much. Love you too!

    • sainttmr says:

      Sunshine, YOU can call me anything you like, and because you read my chapter, you know just how special the name “Mom” is to me. Love you <3

  16. Sue Cranmer says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Every time someone calls me a saint or says they don’t know how I do it, all that goes through my head is the many times I did not do it very well.

    • sainttmr says:

      We all have days like that :). What is important is when we are able to learn from our bad days to be even better for our kids <3

  17. Poppy TMR says:

    I love this! And I love you!! “We really are extremely easy to please and highly appreciative creatures.” Ain’t that the truth!? Who knew I could get such joy out of grocery shopping by myself

    • sainttmr says:

      Ahhhh – the joys of solo grocery shopping. I actually just came back from doing that since today is a rare day that I am off while she is in school. It was as blissful as a day in the spa – well, almost! <3 u too Poppy!

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