One year has passed since the day we walked out of the neuropsychologist’s office with another diagnosis for our son. This new revelation thrust us into uncharted waters as we named the reality that we were parenting a child with mental health concerns, namely a mood disorder.
I had spent hours upon hours studying the differences in my son’s brain to be able to report accurately any information that would be necessary for determining a correct diagnosis. Continued behaviors provided data that eventually validated the reality that medication was a necessary choice. As I initially struggled to sort through the varied emotions filling my heart, I found that time and space were the greatest companions for offering kindness to myself.
My companions provided enough hope for me to be able to say yes to the journey, to the turn in the road, to the wild and rugged ride.
I recently re-read the words I heard God spoke to me during that time:
“I’d like to invite you to live a life beyond yourself. A life you never believed was possible. You will experience pain and heartache like you never imagined when you look into the eyes of your beloved child. Your heart will break over and over again as you watch him fight and struggle day by day. He will need you to grow and learn to love him uniquely as his needs will feel crushing at times. You will be overwhelmed and blame yourself. You will feel loss and disappointment as you grieve the normalcy that you craved. I have hand picked you to love this child. My hope is that you will open your eyes to the beauty of being his mother. You will experience depths of emotions as you begin to see the world through his eyes. This child knows me uniquely, and I desire for you to experience more of who I am as you grow in love for him.”
Tears fell from my eyes as I absorbed the beauty of those words. Recalling the scenes from this painful year, heartache, struggle, loss, disappointment, and grief have all been present, yet there has been more—so much more. Learning and growing have been an inevitable reality, and I believe that I am designed to be his mother.
The last couple of months have been particularly difficult. As I was sharing the recent struggles with a friend, she wondered aloud, “What if this is always what it looks like to live life with your son? It seems like he goes through periods of time when he’s doing really well and then other times where it is really a struggle.”
Her words settled gently in my chest as I pondered the reality. What if we are doing everything possible and he still struggles? We have spent our year in therapy and counseling, following recommendations and home programs to the best of our ability. We have tried different medications hoping to find the category and dosage that works best for him. We have modified our lives, our food, our parenting style, and our routines. We have been given the most amazing teacher, principal, doctors, and therapists who are allies both for our son and for us. We have been joined by a company of supporters who are daily petitioning God on our behalf, and I am often comforted in the truth that beyond anything we can do, we have the Spirit who groans with us when we cannot find the words.
Clinging to hope and believing that healing is possible—that my God can do immeasurably more that I can ask or imagine—I have been watching and waiting for the end of this struggle. The scenery is constantly changing, and I am grateful for the moments of beautiful success, but the ending is not coming like I had hoped it would. Truth is, the road that we are on may not end until my son is no longer here on earth.
What if the end does not come this side of heaven? How will I be?
May I be a woman who bravely believes. May I take each day, one step at a time. May I fill our home with love and laughter. May I cry and pray and feel it all. May I grow and change with each new turn. May I ask for help and fight like hell. May I know when to stop, rest, and enjoy life. May I speak blessing over my son as I hold him tenderly, kiss his head, and remind him that I love his brain.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here. &
I feel the tension, the trust, the hope in your words. The longing for normalcy runs deep in my soul, as well. The struggle is real, so real as you seek to fight for what is best for your family and son and to fight for rest – which can feel so counter-intuitive. Always feels like such a long time. When I think of always, I lose my breath and have to remember I have this day lo live and breathe and love through. Then the next and the one after that. I have been carried and am being carried and will be carried. And in good days in my world I get it, but not every day is good. I am praying for your heart as you move through your days, that the rest for your soul comes in the midst of the mess of uncertainty. Your mama heart is big and beautiful. May you feel the love for you, as well.
Thank you for your words, Julie. The tension, the trust, the hope…yes. Hearing part of your soul and your knowing heart is a beautiful reminder that we are not alone. Thank you for your prayers and love. Thinking of you as well as you walk through your moments, one at a time.
‘May I speak blessing over my son as I hold him tenderly, kiss his head, and remind him that I love his brain.’ This sums up so beautifully the way you love him…you are just the right mama for him!
Thank you Janet for sharing what you see…that reminder is needed on so many days!
As a mom of two with special needs this really resonated with me. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your response and for sharing with me a little about our connection. Thinking of you as you walk day to day with your precious 2, whatever their needs may be.
Oh, my dear friend, your tender and conflicted heart are so raw and alive with thoughts and emotions throughout your entry. This all feels so hard yet I love the place you have landed in knowing that God has entrusted you as the mother of one very special boy. The picture you left us with is the kiss to his head and the love of his brain is the best💗MJ
Thank you dear friend for your words. Ah yes, tender and conflicted, how very true. Thank you for your love and your ever present encouragement. Love you.
Sweet Bethany, I was so deeply touched by how you stepped out in nakedness with your heart, it was stunning, I also love how you prostrated yourself before the Lord in your request to Him for what your heart desires, and waiting on Him for direction for whatever He has for you now. Your soft touch and words to your son, “I love your brain” took my breath away. You are the right mom for such a Special gift from God. May He breath patience and stamina over you. Love and miss you.
Dear Marilyn, thank you so much for your words as you shared your heart here with me. Oh, nakedness…yes indeed! Thank you for your love and blessing, I love and miss you too!
I have tears streaming down my face as I read this. I am in awe of your vulnerability and love for your son. I am SO glad he has you for his mama. You are amazing B! ❤️
Oh Deanna, thank you. Love you.
Bethany, I am moved to tears over your heart for your son, and your tender courage. Thank you for loving his brain – may that love and its shame-disarming power make all the difference for him over his lifetime. Thank you so much for this transparent and powerful piece.
Dear Jan, thank you for your words and your tears. I love your words, “may that love and its shame-disarming power make all the difference for him over his lifetime”. AMEN! I will carry those deep in my heart especially on the days that are so very hard. Thank you.
Oh my – what a beautiful post Bethany! I love your heart and the mother you have been and are right now. I love that you know God chose you, a woman willing to study for hours and hours and sacrifice for your precious son. You are living a life beyond yourself and I pray God continue to fill your heart as you pour out blessings on your son. Prayers and love for you all.
Oh Ellen, thank you friend. The mother I have been and am right now…love how you know. Thank you for your prayers, support, and blessing. Love you.
You are courageous and brave!
Both shine through in the good moments and in the moments that are filled with struggle. In your honesty, your tears, your laughter, your grief, your rage, your sorrow, your delight, your blessing and your cursing and so much more, I admire your family for living life fully (to the best you are able) in each passing moment.
I pray for you to experience rest every night and renewed spirit every morning. Sending love and prayers!
Oh Trish, I love how you named it all…for it is all very present! Thank you for your words and encouragement. What a beautiful prayer, thank you! Love to you!
I have tears as I read your beautiful words. My own daughter is 15 and struggling deeply with “normal” experiences that don’t feel normal to her. I weep for her to be able to meet life with ability vs. disability. She also has so much depth, talent, and emotional intelligence. I long to share her uniqueness in a world that often names her poorly. Thanks for sharing your bravery.
Thank you for sharing tears with me, for your words, and your heart. What a beautiful longing you have for your dear daughter. Your heart for her is courageous and kind and I pray for moments where you both get to experience hope in the day to day.
I know something of this journey. Your words bring tears close. And stir hope anew, to never stop fighting. And to keep returning to trust.
Thank you Joanna for your words and your tears. Praying for you as you journey with new hope. Carry on lovely!
I thought this was such a beautiful post. Poignant, honoring, filled with grace and love and courage. You’ve unfolded in such gorgeous ways this year for all of your boys.
Oh Katy, thank you. Unfolding in gorgeous ways…wow, thank you for that picture. Love you.
“What if the end does not come this side of heaven? How will I be?”
Feeling the weight of that question with you. <3
Thank you Jenn. Love you.
Bethany, thank you again for the update on your life. You elegantly, while brutally honest, put words to your experience and to so many others. Our brains are not like outward bodies that show difference and need. The silence and unseen care many need when it’s our mental capabilities holds isolation for so many of us. Bless you. Bless you as you navigate your son’s needs. The glory and holiness your words give to so many of us who ache with you and with needs of our families…is stunning. These sentences remain with me: “The scenery is constantly changing, and I am grateful for the moments of beautiful success, but the ending is not coming like I had hoped it would. Truth is, the road that we are on may not end until my son is no longer here on earth.”
Becky, thank you for seeing, for speaking, and for blessing. The isolation you speak of is so very tangent and your response comes from a beautiful place of knowing which is so very good for my heart, thank you.