I Don’t Know How to Tell Them It Gets Worse


Pam at mountainIt gets worse? Ok, please don’t stop reading.  I get it. It’s not the most uplifting title but I promise it gets better.  

I just need to say this, to put it out there.  As a middle-aged mom (did I just write that!), I have had a minefield of difficult experiences that even my own children may never understand how I was capable of navigating. That is, until difficult experiences happened to them.  

As moms, we have all comforted our children.

We’ve comforted our children during times they felt slighted or wounded or under appreciated. When they are younger we give them pep talks on self-worth and how much they are loved. We heal the outer wounds with bandaids and kisses and the inner ones with advice and hugs. And we hurt when they hurt.

I would venture to say that many mom-tears have been shed over name calling and being left out of the group. But here is where this gets tough…

The older we moms get, the more we know life is going to hammer away at them. We know this because we are feeling the blows ourselves.

My father passed away when I was thirty-two. I remember thinking, “I’m too young to have lost my dad.” As if death follows some strict code of ethics.  

My son, the oldest, was in first grade. Dropping him off at school, trying to keep a “normal” routine yet knowing the next few days would be anything but normal, was difficult to say the least. You see, drop-off and pick-up were my dad’s “thing” and he loved it. But now it was time to write an obituary, choose music, gather burial clothes — the hard stuff.  

My mom passed away seven years later. I was still not yet forty and I felt like an orphan. When I read that last sentence it sounds silly, but I’m just being honest. Losing your parents is the worst.

Sitting in the attic during Hurricane Katrina

The year after my mom died the Coast was visited by Hurricane Katrina.  We sat in our attic, my husband and I, with two middle schoolers, a high schooler, and one small but brave dog named Chipper. Five feet of water came and went in a day, but the aftermath of restoring our home, our life, took so much longer.

The stress of rebuilding a house while working, being a parent and a wife was often beyond what I thought I could handle.  Sometimes I wasn’t the best at my job, and sometimes I didn’t give my children or marriage the support needed. I was being tested in the art of sacrifice.

It is never easy to surrender a piece of yourself, especially when life jolts us with its worse.

And worse it got. Two years ago my son, then twenty-five, was hit head-on by a drunk driver that was traveling on the wrong side of the interstate. Usually this scenario ends with an innocent life taken and the guilty party alive and well. But this story doesn’t follow protocol (just like my son sometimes!).  

We received THE call no parent wants to get, “Your son has been in a car accident. He is alive but pretty banged up.

Little did we know, this meant several surgeries and thirty-three days in the hospital. This story is one for another day, but I need it to be known that hearing your child ask a doctor if he is going to die is, well, beyond difficult. In fact, it’s the worst.

I promised this would get better so here is the shift in tone.  

As inevitable as it is that throughout our life adversity will advance, let me be clear — our love and faith will strengthen immensely.  You thought you loved your husband on your wedding day. You thought the day your babies were born that it couldn’t get any better.  Boy, were you wrong!

If I have to be honest and tell my kids that life gets worse then I also have to shout it loud that life also gets “exceedingly abundantly” better.

When I struggled with the loss of my parents, I had my siblings to turn to when it got hard. My brother showed up at my house Christmas morning the year my dad died. A Christmas morning visit from Papa was tradition, and there stood my brother, taking my dad’s place, just as excited as my kids were about Santa’s visit.  

My brother was there after Katrina too. And not just family but friends and even strangers gave time and money to help us rebuild after the storm. I love my house. It is not the largest, prettiest, or most expensive, but everywhere I look I see gracious generosity. I see my husband’s handiwork, laboring on weekends and after work to rebuild our home—a testament to his compassion and dedication to family.

And when my son was fighting for his life, God was covering us with His protection through prayer. So many prayers. I’m talking a great big shower of prayers!

People, possessions, pride, peace. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes we have to lose to gain.

While change is inevitable, God is benevolent. Knowing this should make us grateful and appreciative of His mercy. People will flow in and out of our lives, divinely appointed to share our burdens and add to our blessings.  

Love beyond measure and we only have to open our hearts and receive. What a gift! What grace!  

In this we understand James when he writes “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds,” because through the trials we meet the triumphs.

On the mountain

I may not know how to tell my kids life will heave its worst at them, but I could talk for days on end about how our time on this earth gets better.

It takes one to see the other.

“On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience.

God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

And those goods days? They are the best!