Please, God, Just Don't Let Me Screw Them Up... A Mother's Prayer

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Woman's hands together in prayer
Woman's hands together in prayer

Dear God,

Just thought I'd check in. You've been with me every step of the way through this parenting stuff so far. And I could really use an ear right about now.

By the way, thanks for getting me through the whole labor thing. It was touch and go there for a while -- and to tell you the truth, I still have a bone to pick with you concerning the whole barfing-pooping-C-section scenario (when I specifically asked you not to go there). But you did get us all out safely in the end, and the second time around was a breeze, so I can't really stay too mad at you. And I must say, you (we) really delivered.

She's amazing. He's perfect.

And thanks, God, really, for having our backs when we needed you in those first few years. Like when I called on you in the middle of the night, sitting in a steamy bathroom trying to clear up those little heaving, congested lungs... Please, Lord, let her breathe. Or when I pleaded with you non-stop as I dashed around Target in a panic searching for that hellion of a little boy... Please, God, PLEASE let me find him. And remember that time he locked himself in the car in the middle of summer? Thanks for sending out your strapping team of firefighters, screeching through the neighborhood, sirens blaring, axes waving, to rescue my frightened baby. I owe you big time for that one.

The kids are 6 and 9 now -- can you believe it? (Oh, wait, you already knew that). I thought it would get easier, you know? No more up all night, baggy-eyed and sore-breasted. No more wiping up mouths and butts and vomit and boogers. Or finding places to set them, strap them in, keep them from banging into things and just... alive.

But it seems like it's just getting harder. What the hell (oops, I mean heck), God? What's the deal? Seems like things are crazier than ever -- busier, messier, more complicated than ever. Seems like more decisions need to be made, and much more is at stake.

And seems we need you again.

You see, just a few weeks ago, we pulled the kids out of their school mid-year to transfer them to a new one. Right smack in the middle of January, we yanked them from the friends and teachers they had grown to know and love over the past four years and, within a matter of days, plopped them down into the middle of a strange new place. And said, here you go... this is your new home, five days a week, seven hours a day. You'll get used to it.

I know what you're thinking... kids are resilient, they'll get through it. That's what everyone's telling us. But I'm not sure you were paying attention. Did you not see our little girl throw herself on the floor in a fit of sobs and agonizing pleas? And then do it again, and again? Not that I didn't see this coming, but it just about ripped my heart out, God. I mean, who does this to their kid?

Well... we did, not because we didn't have a choice, or didn't spend countless sleepless nights weighing all the pros and cons. But because we felt, long-term, it was the best thing for them, and for our family. All the while knowing that we can't ever really know for sure.

Despite our best intentions, it's a crapshoot, and there are no guarantees. Right?

I know you have far bigger fish to fry, but I guess what I'm really asking is...

Please, God, just don't let me screw them up.

And maybe just give me a little sign that it's all going to turn out OK. That's all I really need. Just some way of knowing that these decisions -- the choices I make -- are not going to require years of therapy, or result in a revolving door of bad relationships or dead-end jobs. Or, God forbid (no offense), just general unhappiness.

And while you're at it, maybe you could throw a bone to a few of my mom friends. I know they all would really like to know they're doing a good job, too.

Like some of the moms who, after hearing about what we did, have admitted that they, too, have been wondering if they made the best school choice for their children.

Please give them the strength -- and the time -- to figure that out, and the means to make a change if their heart is telling them to.

Please, God, just don't let me screw them up.

Because I know we all ultimately want the same thing -- whether we're making a well-researched, major-life decision or an autopilot, split-second one, we just want to know that it won't screw up our kid. At least not too bad.

And please, for the love of (you), help us all be OK with the not-knowing. With trusting our gut when we just can't analyze, rationalize or strategize one more bloody minute for the sake of our children. Reassure us that this parenting road is not meant to be a one-way street -- that it can't always be just about the kids and what they need. That we're all in this thing together, and that our happiness is crucial to theirs. And to understand that it's inevitable that we'll make some choices that might not pan out so well. And that it's OK.

I don't really know if my kids are going to soar in their new school environment or encounter a slew of new struggles. But I do know that if I trust my motherly instincts, and take a few chances, they will at least have the opportunity to come out better on the other side. And if they don't? Well, they'll learn about failure, too.

And if I don't want them to be totally screwed up, I know I have to accept that sometimes they just will be.

Thanks, God. Thanks for listening, and for clearing all this up for me. Come to think of it, I have a new prayer for you...

Please, God, let them occasionally screw up. Just don't let them know I had anything to do with it.