Sometimes my job is hard to take. Everyone's job is hard to take at times, I know, but since I became a mama my job has gotten even tougher. See, I work in the field of child welfare. From the time I get to work until the time I hit the door on the way out, I am bombarded with all of the different ways that parents can hurt, ignore, insult, and damage their own flesh and blood. Their own flesh and blood.
It baffles me when I look at the sweet, innocent face of my flesh and blood. My precious baby is a part of me. He is a product of the love that his father and I share. He is a product of the desire that we had to combine our families and allow our relationship to live on through future generations. He is the reason that we strive to be healthier, drive safer, eat better, and save more. His little life is already a part of our past and will forever be part of our present and future lives. He's who I picture when I think about Christmases and birthday parties in the upcoming years...soccer games and getting his driver's license...me crying hysterically when he goes away to college and again when he gets married. Maybe even again when he becomes a parent himself, because now I understand what an honor and responsibility that is. So many of my dreams now revolve around who my perfect little baby turns out to be.
I have a big role in that. I believe it's my duty as a parent to make sure my child is confident and kind. We have to teach him about acceptance and tolerance. He will learn right from wrong and he will stumble along the way, but he will be given the chance to make decisions and with that, mistakes. He will look back on his childhood and smile, because he will one day appreciate that his parents gave all they had to give, while fostering independence from an early age. It's the way that my husband and I were raised.
I have heard about the hurtful things parents say to their children. I know for a fact that it is damaging. Whether something hurtful was said one time or a million times, hurtful words don't go away like bruises or broken bones. I don't ever want to say something to my baby that he replays in his head years later and still feels a sting.
I have heard about parents that beat or smother their children to death. I have heard about parents that smack their child in the face every single day. I have heard about a mother who threw her infant on a concrete sidewalk. I have heard stories about a mother's boyfriend who hung her child up on a coat hook for HOURS. I have heard about mothers who leave their newborn babies in dumpsters to die. Don't they know there are people who are dying to take care of and love that baby like their own? I have heard about parents who starve their children for punishment. I have heard about parents who force their own precious flesh and blood to have sex with them or perform other sexual acts on them. I have heard about parents who are so addicted to drugs that they can't or won't provide for their child's most basic human needs. I could go on and on for days with the stories I have heard.
It is downright painful sometimes, hearing about parents who fail to take advantage of the awesome opportunity and the at-times-overwhelming responsibility that comes with creating a brand new person and inviting him to live this life under their protective wing. How could anyone be so cruel to someone so innocent and defenseless?
It really gets me down, when I think about kids today. So many kids are growing up in these kinds of homes. What do we expect these children to do with their lives? What kind of parents do we expect them to be? What are we teaching today's babies about who they can trust? It truly is a shame that it so easy for ignorant people to reproduce. It's one of life's greatest blessings and curses. It seems like the people who wouldn't be authorized to parent are the ones that reproduce the most easily and go on to have perfectly healthy babies, only to be abused and neglected. On the other hand, I've seen so many fantastic couples struggle with sick children and infertility who have done everything by the book.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: My occupation is a constant reminder of the charge that has been placed upon me to parent my child the the best of my ability. If it weren't for my job, I might take that responsibility for granted. I know that I have been given a gift and I will try my best not to take that gift for granted.