We have been sitting at the dining table again for more than an hour. Vince keeps the food in his mouth for long minutes and each swallowing is a battle. I think about what I might be doing wrong, or in what area Vince should get more development. I am tired of sitting at the table three times a day for a full hour and that I am not capable of giving food to my child. Food, which is life! Food, which for my mother is the expression of love! Food, which is the root of provision. I have failed as a mother. I feel helpless.
Many evens from the past feed of off this feeling, as Vince had a stomach tube for a year after he was born. First the nurses changed the tube, which went from his nose all the way to his stomach. Then I learned to push the tube down with the help of a little phonendoscope in the midst of a lot of anxiety and crying. Now I wait and I say to him: “please swallow sweetheart!” I wait. Then I tell Vince that if he swallows, I will turn on the computer. The food disappears in a second and he swallows perfectly. I snap! I shout at him, asking why he needs to do this. We could be done with the meal already and could be playing together. Vince gets scared and starts crying, just sits in his chair and doesn’t understand what the problem is. Then the realization comes that I may have spoiled him. But how can you discipline a handicapped child who already has nothing, because life has taken the greatest thing: his freedom?
Then we start getting ready, I am in a rush so we can head out to the kindergarten on time. I put Vince on the potty chair, brush his teeth, put his coat on and in the meantime the how-to of childrearing comes to me. We learn when something hurts. God cannot educate us in any other way, only if He turns His head and allows us to be tempted by our own foolishness and let it hurt, so we can learn the lesson. This is what I’m going to do. I have one weapon: on the way to the kindergarten we won’t listen to Vince’s favorite music. I tell him that this is what’s going to happen, and if he is not willing to eat lunch properly, there won’t be any music on the way home, and during the shower, and after getting up, and we won’t listen to Budapest Bár at all until he eats nicely.
I have never had to discipline Vince before. He is a very sweet and phenomenal child. I swear, among all the people who are part of my life, he is the happiest and most even-tempered person. He wakes up with a smile in the morning, no matter what I do he patiently waits, if I’m tired and I have no strength to speak, he always puts me at ease with a sweet look or starts dancing with his left shoulder.
We arrive to the kindergarten. My heart is in ruins, and I can see on Vince that something broke in him. He’s not crying, he is just paying attention to the events. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. He is inherently in a vulnerable position; I am the one who puts his little body everywhere, he only sees what I put in front of him, and now he cannot even have the pleasure of listening to his favorite music. As we get to the kindergarten, the physiotherapist sees that something’s off with Vince. I tell her in a nutshell what’s happened, and she congratulates me. She has been working in the institution, but she tells me I belong to the minority, because the parents of inherently handicapped people don’t usually know how to rear their children, because in the midst of all the difficulties they don’t have the strength for it.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Hm… “I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” I pray. Vince is exercising with the physiotherapist, I am on the phone with my prayer partner, waiting for Jesus’ mercy. In less than two hours the following things happen: I get a chance to swim in the institution’s swimming pool (although parents are only allowed until 8 AM), then the lead nutritionist offers to bring together some experts with whom we can discuss Vince’s nutritional issues, and the physiotherapist assures me she will get a meeting for me with the kindergarten’s counselor who has helped thousands of parents in situations like this.
How many times have I found myself in circumstances I doomed hopeless? Oh, Lord, You know that! And how many times have I received Your Mercy? Oh, Lord, You know that! Thank you for having the knowledge of Your Word which existed before the creation of the world and carries Life to this day! I have read Hebrews 4:12 many times before, but I only really understood it now:
“ For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Have you noticed that you have a constant conversation going in your head? Now I have this one in mine: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Give it a try too! Season your thoughts with God’s thoughts, and you will be surprised how refreshed and healthy you will feel both in body and soul. Here comes another feeding. I sit next to Vince; I give him the next spoonful and think: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Vince rhythmically swallows, one bite after the next.
Difficulties come and go, giving the relay baton to each other. But now I am wiser a little bit again: the trial comes, and after I waken from the anger, self-pity and sadness, my heart says God’s Word. I think about it a little, then the Holy Spirit takes it over through my thoughts. I get restored, I am healed, and everyone around me too. This happens because God gives actual knowledge into our hands, because He says first we need to seek His kingdom, and all will be given to us as well. And the key to God’s kingdom is the Word itself! I turn the car key, the song “Átutazók vagyunk itt e Földön” begins from Budapest Bár, Vince smiles at me, and we head home from the kindergarten. On the way I turn another key in my heart:
“Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.”