We women sat in Bible study sharing our burdens. We didn’t get to the lesson. All of us had so many things we needed to process and pray for. The common theme? Our children. There is nothing like a Mother’s love for her child. There is also like a Mother’s burden of guilt if she feels as if she parented poorly or passed on some genetic trait that resulted in disease, sickness or depression. We Moms are burden bearing beings.
Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.-Galatians 6:2b,3 The Message
This verse was my theme song when I was in college. I thought I had to bear everyone’s burdens. I heaped them on my back and carried them. I jumped up when anyone needed help at anytime. My mom noticed the pattern and shared some teachings with me on having a ‘burden bearing personality’. Turns out, we can take this burden bearing a little too far. I’m glad she shared those with me while I was young because after marriage, children and then adoption, I slipped back down into the pattern of burden bearing too much. Again and again. Some experts call this co-dependency. It can lead to compassion fatigue or physical sickness.
If we read this verse in context, we find a balance-
5 For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults]. Galatians 6:6
We Moms can take comfort in this. Burden bearers can only take on so much. Each person must deal with their own choices, the fruit of their labor, of whatever sort that is. Good or bad. Sweet or sour. Moms, as much as we would love to save our family from negative consequences, we cannot. As much as we would love everyone to have a perfect life, they can’t. We live on an imperfect world, where people make choices that determine results. Not only that, but the word says to bear the burdens, not to pour yourself out for another by wrecking your own health. If you are bearing the burden of passing on a genetic defect to your child, I’m sorry. I’ve been there. It stinks. But, feeling guilty doesn’t change it. It just weighs us down.
As for adoptive/foster/special needs Mothers, we need to take great care in self-care.
“Because a parent has compassion for a child he feels with him. He enters his pain from his point of view. Entering into a child’s pain comes at a great emotional cost to the foster or adoptive parent.” –The Traumatized Child
Let me end with three reminders for us Moms.
1. Children from hard places CAN’T, Not WON’T bear their own burdens. They cannot self-regulate.
2. Bearing our children’s oppressive faults means co-regulation. Children get their cues from us. If we lose it every time they can’t regulate, they will stay in the cycle of being Dysregulated and we will join them.
3. We adoptive/foster/special needs parents must maintain a delicate balance of being co-regulators, attaching at every possible moment but being detached, not co-dependent.
I’ll be delving into each of these three topics for the next three weeks. Watch for number one next Wednesday!