Broken and Mad

My perfect baby boy was broken. And I was mad.


He was our first baby. When he was 3 years old, he was reading and writing. He had already completed the entire game of PacMan World 2 on Play Station and had moved on to PacMan World 3. We would watch him in amazement. He was always inventing things and building things. An engineer. A 3 year old engineer! We bragged on him and had him do his “tricks” for our friends. Let’s just call it like it was…he was a genius. An amazing child genius that was going to put Doogie Howser to shame. Shame, I say!

Then it happened. It started small. Just little weird things he would do. Like…nod his head. All the time. Sometimes he would nod REALLY hard. I would tell him to stop. He would…for a few minutes. Then he would do it again. Then he would blink his eyes. Not normal blinking…more like eye squeezing. A lot of heavy eye squeezing.

So, we took him to the doctor. Something was obviously bothering him and they confirmed it. Allergies. From the age of 3 to 6 we tried every allergy medicine we could get our hands on. Sometimes the “symptoms” would go away. Sometimes not. We couldn’t make sense of it. And lets be real for a second…I had a 3 year old, a two year old, and…a newborn. I was in survival mode. It wasn’t pretty. Sometimes those allergies had to be put on the back burner…

At the age of six things got bad. In addition to head-nodding and eye-blinking, he started this very audible throat clearing. It turned out that it was necessary for him to clear his throat at the end of every single sentence. Sometimes twice. Especially when doing his reading homework. ALWAYS while doing our mandatory “read at home” with mom. Mom’s nerves were shot. Let’s face it. I didn’t handle myself well. I was beginning to panic. I would let him know that he needed to get this under control or he was going to form habits that he would never be able to break…people would make fun of him!! Oh mercy. I was terrible. I would punish him. I yelled at him. He would cry.

Then the doctor said “Tourette Syndrome.”

He said a lot of other things too. He said things about medications. He talked about psychotics that could be permanently altering to his brain and personality. He said, “no cure.” He said something about a small percentage of people growing out of it…most don’t. He said it is likely that it would get worse. He said…other stuff. I don’t even know.

We took him to a specialist. Tried the non-scary medications. Watched his personality change. And watched him get worse.

Then I snapped. My perfect…smart…beautiful baby boy was broken and I was mad! Mad at the doctors who couldn’t help. Mad at myself for being a bad mama. For yelling at him. Mad at God for letting this happen to him and for not helping me. After all,  I had just found my way back to Jesus after quite the hiatus. I had my family in a church and this is how He repays me!? I was mad.

And I was on a mission. A mission to fix him.

No more medications. I committed myself to studying alternative medications and eliminating toxins in our foods and environments. I banned all cleaning materials, soaps with sulfates…anything with artificial anything. I obsessed over studying minerals and vitamins and how they work together and in the body…I tried them all. At times, I would feel I was making headway. His symptoms would lesson. Even disappear for a time. I would remember the exact combination of minerals and vitamins and repeat it and then, BAM. The symptoms would be back. But I  wouldn’t back down. He was becoming more audible with his tics. He was hurting himself. Teachers were concerned. But, I wouldn’t back down. He was having trouble playing the piano because of a new obsession with tracing the straight lines of the keys.

I was going to fix my broken 8 year old baby who now had to repeat the first two words and last two words of every. single. sentence that he spoke.

And I broke. 

A Tuesday night. On my bed. I was frantically searching online for a support group. I needed someone…anyone…that could possibly understand just a little of what I was going through. Maybe they could help?! But…nothing. I was absolutely hopeless. And alone. After my searches came up empty, I just cried…and I prayed for help. Ha. I hope you understand how absolutely ugly this really was. It was more like yelling and pleading with God…with lots of ugly, snotty crying and flailing and pure helpless…brokenness.

Then the phone rang. It was God. Yeah… sort of. Not really. It was an old friend. A teacher that had a student in her class that reminded her a lot of my baby. This student had these tics and had just been diagnosed with Tourettes. She was just wondering if I would be interested in meeting with this kid’s mom. The mom is having a really difficult time and could really use some support. She thought maybe it would be good for us both. Chills.

And that is where the story changed. It turned out that we were visiting a church that the kids had been begging to go to the next night. This “mom” just happened to be the very first person that introduced herself to me in the church lobby. Coincidence? Or God?

That Tuesday night on my bed…wallowing in my own failures and hopelessness…I thought I was searching for a support group. What I found was so much sweeter. Did I find a friend that understood and was going through the same thing? Yes. Did my son find a friend that he was able to talk to about this terrible thing that was happening to both of them? Yes. Did my family find a new church that we would end up falling in love with? Yes.

But the sweetest thing that I found was PEACE. In my efforts to be the “fix-it” mom, I had forgotten a few things.  I had forgotten that God was and always will be the ONE in control. I had forgotten that my God doesn’t mess up. That all things good or bad pass through His loving hands and He will use every single bit of it for GOOD. I forgot that I could trust Him. I forgot that my baby was really HIS anyway. I forgot that He loves my baby more than I do. I forgot that God is ALWAYS good. No matter what.

So I remembered. And I gave it all back to God. And PEACE settled in. A peace that really does surpass all understanding.

The Tourettes? He still has it. I guess? His symptoms started completely disappearing soon after that terrible Tuesday night. I don’t think about Tourettes any more. I forget he has it. He has plans to attend Georgia Tech and study engineering in a couple of years. He is smart. He is beautiful. He is perfect. He is HIS.

Seek peace.


Julie Bowmar