Updated: Apr 25, 2019
This coming Sunday is Thomas Sunday. I have always liked this Apostle, as I really relate to him, at least as far as struggling with doubt. Today, it is doubt about my adequacy as a mother.
I am very deliberate about each rule and decision I make, all with my children’s good in mind. When they accuse me of being too protective or being "the worst parent ever", I question not so much my decisions as who I am. Is there something fundamentally wrong with me, that I do not know how to parent differently than I do? That I cannot see backing down or lightening up, because it seems not only irresponsible, but morally wrong? Is my perspective on the world essentially skewed by my own unresolved trauma? Am I unbearably controlling and smothering instead of righteously responsible and properly protective? But am I not justified by the circumstances? Shouldn’t I demand trustworthy behavior before allowing freedoms comparable to other kids? But shouldn’t I reject all comparisons and just go with my gut, informed by what I know to be true?
I stubbornly stand my ground in the face of conflict, and I dig my heels in when I am pushed, so my kids know whining and complaining will get them the opposite of what they want. Then I lock myself in the bathroom and cry because I hate not being liked & wonder if I sacrificed connection with them to my own willfulness. Or did I make a solid decision that will help my children learn to communicate respectfully & set them up for better life relationships? It isn't easy being the firm disciplinarian instead of the fun mom. What if my kids grow up and want nothing to do with me? What if, instead of being loved for who I am despite my mistakes, I am despised for flaws that seem such a part of me they are conflated with who I am?
This isn’t a job where I can throw up my hands and quit. This is a lifelong job, the hardest job there is, and there is no escaping my mistakes. There is no rule book, no one-size-fits-all solution here. What if I make the wrong decision too many times? What if I am damaging my kids?
Well, of course I am. Every parent is. That is the part I forget in the midst of my self-doubt and fear-fueled panic. Satan always does his best to keep me from realizing that this isn’t about me being a perfect parent. It is about me throwing myself before Christ, asking for His help, laying my precious children in His arms and remembering that it is He who will salvage them after all my mishaps. I am most definitely screwing them up, as all fallen, human parents before and after me have done and will do. But there is no doubt that He loves them more than I do, and He has my back. Thank God.
I love that the inscription on the icon for this feast is not "The Doubting Thomas," but "The Belief of Thomas." Once he has touched the life-giving wounds of Christ, St. Thomas's doubt vanishes. May we turn to Christ's life-giving body and blood and see the disappearance of doubts about who He has created us to be.