These are words I hear often. They are words that come from our daughter. She is 13 and has been through this injury just as we have. I never want to paint a picture that my husband was the perfect husband, father, or person because we all have faults and times we fail. I say this though because he was an amazing father. He is still an amazing father to the extent that he is capable.
As I grew up, my mom had terminal brain cancer. She was given a very short time to live, but beat all odds. (I give glory to the Lord for that!) As a young child I knew fear. I would get off of the school bus and walk up our long country driveway. The first thing I would do is yell for my mom. Not to ask what was for a snack, or what fun things we might do, but to see if she was still alive. I knew that every day I could come home and she would no longer be alive. I never thought that God would use those experiences in my future.
There is not a wasted trial in life’s journey. Indeed, God has used those situations that I went through to be more equipped to help my daughter through this journey that she is now facing. For her, this trial began when her school officer brought her home from school early that Thursday afternoon. I now was the parent telling the child that Daddio may or may not live. I told her that we have to hold onto the power of Jesus to heal him. Also, that it was okay to cry and let it all out. That was the hardest conversation I have ever had to have with my child. I praise the Lord that our Pastor and his wife (also our friends) were there with us by that time. They picked up where I lost the ability to think. They gave not only me, but my little girl such love and hope.
What does parenting after TBI look like? Again, I can only speak from our specific experience because every injury is different. For my daughter, TBI has stolen her father from her. My daughter feels that her Daddio (which was her nickname for him) died the day of his accident. And even as I type this it just hit me that I do not think she had even called him Daddio since he’s been home from rehabilitation. Who is he now?
While he is still her father, he is also the guy that is about her mentality level most of the time. Since the accident, he is very hard on her. He fears that he may fail as a father and so he believes that being overly hard on her will help her make the right choices. Through both of them being in therapy we have had to establish rules. For example, if he feels there is an issue that needs addressed such as she did not complete a chore, then he has to come to me so that I can address it with her. This helps prevent him being overly harsh with her. It is like a balancing act. I try to see situations where he can act as the parent to help restore that respect and authority, but at the same time protect her when it’s too harsh. The ultimate goal is to restore their relationship to a healthy “new normal.”
When she walks in off the bus she knows when she opens the door that Dad may or may not have had a good day. If he has had a bad day, then she knows the night will in all actuality be filled with him nit-picking, being angry, and sometimes downright belligerent. There is so much more I will write on in the future about this because she also has mental health disorders that add to the situation. I tell her over and over that God is going to use all of these things in your life to make you the woman He wants you to become.
And He will, I believe every trial is a chance to learn strength and lessons that will help us in the future. What is the lesson you are going through today? What is it that you need more strength to face in the future? Ask the Lord to reveal the lessons in the big and little and He will. The hard thing is to truly learn from them and apply them to everyday. I want to encourage you that it is possible and your life will be a little better with every lesson learned.