Every stitch a prayer


You don’t have to look too closely to see that this quilt is far from perfect.  It has been slow, slogging work most of the way.  What I thought was really precise cutting and sewing sometimes wasn’t and there was enough else going on that the choice was pretty clear: accept all the imperfections and have it ready to take to Maria, or start over.  I need her to have this, probably more than she needs to receive it, so tomorrow I will have it with me when I get to wrap my arms around the girl  after too many months without seeing her.

One of the haunting truths about parenting our daughter is that we did not get to have a makeover–no parent does, of course, but in Maria’s case, the things we learned in the very last few years before we placed her at BARC, her intermediate care facility, would have made an enormous difference if we had known them sooner.  From very early on, when we tried first one kind of therapeutic approach and then another, all of them based on the assumption that insight can lead to behavior changes, we saw how none worked.  In fact, they all seemed to entrench her most problematic behaviors more deeply.  It wasn’t until Carol, amazing, compassionate, extraordinarily competent Carol, our behavior specialist, came on board that we finally hit bedrock.  She was the one who helped us understand how getting attention was Maria’s crack cocaine.  She was the one who helped us understand why the other therapeutic approaches had simply not worked–and in fact, had made things worse.  She was the one who taught us to throw out everything we thought we knew about parenting so we could finally start getting it right.

Often, including in the past few weeks, Sherod and I have asked ourselves how things might have turned out if we had been able to start working with Carol when Maria, just having arrived from Mexico, was 5 instead of 13.  We will never know. What I do know is that neither she or we have every quit trying.  And if the path of our parenting has been marked with crooked, wobbly lines and somewhat mismatched pieces and patches, in the end, we have been, are, and will always be, her family.

I have wanted to give up on this quilt too many times to count and now I have finished it.  She has been with me day in and day out as I measured, cut, stitched, tore out seams and tried again.  I have to believe that my love, and the prayers, equal parts thanksgiving and endless pleas for wholeness and health for her, will remain with her long after I get back on a plane and come back to Alabama.  Tonight, the tears are about relief that I was and am equal to the work, though not nearly as well as I would have wanted.  I remind myself that this is how love turns out.

8 thoughts on “Every stitch a prayer

  1. Oh, my dear friend, you have been utterly committed to that young woman since long before she came to live in your home. Every step of the way you have given her all you could. I love your willingness to give what you have — not to wait until you have something perfect to give. I honor you!

  2. Pingback: » Every stitch a prayer

  3. You have more than mastered what I believe to be the absolute most important criteria of parenting: You love her and have been steadfast in that love, even during the difficult times. All parents face difficulties but mine have been minuscule compared to yours. All parents would love to have do overs so never think you are alone in that desire. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time and hope for the best.

  4. Rosa, you are my hero. I hear your pain, but you and Sherrod did all you could. As I often remind myself if children came with their unique instruction manual the world would be a very boring place. Thank you for sharing. I am sure she will know and feel your touch as she wraps herself in love. Sharon

  5. Developmental Trauma Disorder. It damages the very fabric of a little one’s soul. So many “experts”, so many schools, simply do not understand. Prayers for your daughter, as she wrestles with her issues, and slowly learns to trust and love. Hugs to you, Trauma Mamma and fellow Warrior Mom.

  6. So many wiser folks have commented; I feel I have little to add. You tried the very best you knew how; you had no map or manual – for there are none. Just gut wrenching trials and their results. Know, that you,Sherod and Maria each have done all knew how and were capable of doing. In life, that is all and more than God expects of us . xoxo

  7. I don’t see a single thing that makes this quilt less than beautiful. And Maria will not either. Rosa, I do not know how you find the energy to do these wonderful things. Thank God for this perfect gift to your wonderful girl!

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