When You’re Not Enough

I have never been enough.

I try. I really do.

From the beginning, I studied and worked with all my might. Most of the time I am adequate, but there are things beyond my abilities that bring me to despair.

No matter how much I try or what I do, this one is more than I can handle. The hours I spend learning and searching increase my knowledge to the swelling point, earning me the label of amateur expert. Yet there he is, impervious. My carefully chosen words are so many flimsy soap bubbles, the noise a mere whisper before expiring with a quiet ‘pop’ more sensed than heard.

He wants to hear me, but the walls between us are thick and wide. He turns his head. The vibrations reach him. I will him to touch it, grasp it. Sometimes he does reach. It is a flimsy thing, not easily held. The fragmented traces it leaves, when it does find him, are like bits of melody, a song in separate pieces.

We begin again, with a slight adjustment and renewed persistence.

In all the long, long nights of bitter tears and angry, screaming prayers, failure has taught me this hard lesson well.

I can never be enough. Because perfect doesn’t exist in this world.

I am always enough. Because I will never give up on him.

There is a reason that mothers and fathers who face extraordinary challenges are referred to as parents in the trenches. The challenges in and of themselves are not the enemy. Those things that destroy your soul wear many masks. A few of their names are comparison, fear, and doubt. And they have a whole heap of nasty cousins.

Progress can be a messy business. Things don’t happen in a straight line. Who am I kidding? This is trailblazing work, walking a person through their own uncharted territory with scant signposts along the way. Even when you are certain sure you are going the right direction, there is a constant nagging doubt. Maybe this is not the right way after all.

When circumstances are particularly challenging, different, or unique, companions along the way are few and far between. It is a terrifying moment when you realize that even the advising experts often have no clue what they’re talking about.

I don’t know if I’m always doing the right thing. What I do know is that I have hope that I am not doing the wrong thing. Hope. A thing both fragile and strong, a whisper and a shout.

A wise man told me, “You can only do what you can do.”

This is a phrase I have repeated to myself more time than I can count. In my heart of hearts, I know I have given as much as I can. Not perfect parenting, by any means, but the best I could do at the moment.

You can only do what you can do.

After that, you have to have faith that things will work out. The distance between hope and faith isn’t so far. Perhaps it’s the final step in all the striving, the ending place of when you have poured it all out and nothing is left but faith.

Doubts are always there, but in the shadow of faith, doubts shrink down to manageable size.

Sometimes the best we can do is to focus on the next step. The next small goal. Celebrate those moments. For some of us, when our children learn to tie their shoes it is a much larger accomplishment then it is for your typical child. Every child is unique. Some are more unique than others. Averages and typical growth charts are nothing but scribbles on paper, not applicable.

Comparison destroys progress. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself to not play the comparison game, I fall into the trap. Often. We have to have a measuring stick to go by, otherwise we don’t know where we’re going. The problem is, the measurements keep changing.

The things you thought you knew no longer apply. These are the times when you have to dig deep, and get close to what is deep, deep, true. It is amazing how much preconceptions are worthless when it comes down to it. Throw almost everything out the window. Walking through life with someone who sees and experiences every moment a little bit left of center, a slightly different shade of blue, it helps a person find the pared down, close to the bone truth of the way things really are.

When things are terrifying, and they are, you can’t be afraid. You are the anchor, the place they call home. Fear is a luxury you cannot afford.

If you pay homage to fear, it will never be satisfied. It will eat you alive, you and your babies with you.

Trust your own good sense, do the best you can, and refuse to lose hope.

You can only do what you can do.

You are enough.


I was so hesitant to post today. I hope it conveyed what is on my heart and that this post is an encouragement.

If it encouraged you today, please leave a comment, like, or share.

All my best,

Donna Jo


Giants In The Land

He is brave.

He is smart.

He is loved.

When he was small, the invisible and seen were jumbled together and everything screamed danger.

There have been many things to be afraid of.

When the world is loud and crowds you and it’s hard to tell up from down, in from out; terror doesn’t only stalk, it sidles up next to you and tries to claw its way into your back pocket.

Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared. ~Eddie Rickenbacker~

He has always been the bravest one.

I’ve watched him square his shoulders more times than I can count.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher~

There have been many, many tomorrows. There are giants in the land.

Everyday courage takes everyday perseverance. To see the persistence, the faith walked out in small, careful steps has grown in me a deep and steady strength I never knew was possible.

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~C.S. Lewis~

To see him get up, try again, time after time is enough to produce a vision of what heroic truly means.

When he was four, he began to carry around a geography book. He loved that book, and studied it with unusual intensity. I thought, “Aha, geography is his thing.”

But then a couple of years later he found another passion and began to scribble mysterious equations in spiral bound notebooks, projecting orbits and other related things. Intense cat and mouse questions of the algebraic sort pursued him until he pulled at his hair. I told him he should chill, otherwise he’d end up with bad hair like Einstein and someone would put his bad hair day pictures on T-shirts and he probably wouldn’t get a dime out of it.

He laughed. That day he closed the book for a while and went outside.

In between forays into subjects that I remain a happy stranger to, he built things of legos and K’nex.

Physics became a big interest and he tried to explain physics jokes to me while we worked on harder things, like handwriting and tying his shoes. He asked for a molecular model kit and an astronomy text for his birthday.

And he ran the wrong way around the bases in gym class.

The journey was like riding a strange animal with tame strength that obligingly carried him at times, but was then inexplicitly contrary and fickle enough to turn, using its strong jaws to bite and crush. Knowing what a real education is has saved him from many a mauling by the sharpness of that particular beast. No falsely perceived lack has overshadowed his gifts. Uneven development is just that, and nothing else when you are free to live outside someone else’s harshly drawn back lines.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

I have a short story he gave me, a hard won battle we fought together. It was about a captain and saving a world from annihilation. When he brought me the words, I told him It was beautiful and I was moved, because the story was written in our language, his and mine, the language of Hope.

There came a long, long day when the sun moved across the blue much too fast.

Baby Girl wrote a song and stood, her bare toes hanging over the threshold of the back door. She sang into the tangled pine woods and into the whole cloudy world.

Come home, little lost boy,

Little lost boy, come home.

But he didn’t come, because he was too far away to hear her song.

There is a large, unfillable space, a hole of time that will never be redeemed, the hours my son was lost.

The shadows were creeping in when he emerged and was brought home to me. He sat in the kitchen while I fussed and washed his feet. I held out love and he reached for it with both arms, but he had no hands with which to grasp it strongly, to feel it in his own warm grip. I spoke to him of seeing the unseen, of the deep abiding knowing that comes with faith.

And he was brave enough to keep reaching, with hands that could not touch, to know that he was loved.

People try to put him in a box, but he doesn’t belong there. The times he cannot emerge on his own God sends a hand to help, to hold and lift. Hands of angels clothed in human form.

It is my prayer that he always remembers how to kick, kick, kick against that box until it is upended and its true function is revealed, the only one of any use. I tell him to stand up on that box and shout. Shout out with his loudest voice, even if the noise of the suffocating world seems to muffle the words.

The wise, the blessed, will hear and see.

He is brave,

He is smart,

He is loved.