Despite the multitude of blessings in my life, something has been weighing on my heart heavily. I have an amazing job that allows me to spend time getting to know the children we care for and their families. I have shared joy with families as they welcomed new babies, as they celebrated buying a house and as they got new jobs. And I absolutely love being the first person that they meet when they come to the school to tour, the person who remembers the little details about their family/child and welcoming them into our community. I truly am grateful that I get to be that person in our school.
However, with getting to know the children and their families also comes heartbreak when life is hard for them. Our children range in age from 15 months to 6 years old and some of them are dealing with things in their lives that they are just too young to deal with. We have children dealing with alcoholism in their families, children dealing with the possibility that their parents’ marriage may not last, children whose parents work so much that they only see them one day each week and children whose parents are in treatment for serious diseases such as cancer. I’ve grown to know and love these kids and seeing them deal with such adult issues is really hard. I just want to scoop them up into my arms and hold them and comfort them. And there are some days that that’s exactly what they want and need, so I do.
It breaks my heart to have a child burst into tears at and then explain to me that the card they’re making for their dad shows him falling down the stairs that morning because he’s intoxicated. A young, beautiful, amazing child witnessing that and seeing the way it affects them and their sibling and mother. Having children under the age of 10 attended Al-Anon meetings to try to support each other as their family tries to rebuild itself while being ravaged by alcoholism is just so hard. I’m sure it’s a great program and that it is helping immensely, but the fact that they have to go just makes me so sad.
It breaks my heart when I get a phone call from a parent asking if their child can stay at school longer because the parent who normally watches them in the afternoon can’t watch them because they are too drunk to drive. At 11 am. On a Wednesday. An amazing, bright child misses out on quality time with their parent because they chose alcohol instead.
It breaks my heart to know that children may have to deal with parents splitting and possibly divorcing and having to deal with life changing dramatically. Even if the parents get along well, life will not be the same. And those children will deal with a variety of emotions like sadness and anger and confusion.
It breaks my heart to know that there are some children who don’t get to see one parent hardly ever. A parent told me that because they have to work so much, they only see their child one day a week. And they make that day a special day just for the two of them, but it is so sad to think of all the time lost. That parent is grateful to even have a job in this economy, which is totally understandable. But, as Stephen pointed out, if they only have that much time with the child, where is the time with the spouse? How can a marriage stay strong for the parents and the child with so little quality time?
It breaks my heart to know that children are dealing with the possibility of losing a parent to a serious illness. We have a parent who is a cancer survivor (thank the Lord) who is living with the after effects of increased testing each time they are sick- blood work, chest x-rays, various scans. We have another parent currently undergoing treatment for cancer and I believe the prognosis is good, but it’s still scary. The very thought of my parents or grandparents getting sick makes me want to burst into tears and I’ve got a good 20+ years of life on these kids.
And it breaks my heart to know that this is not an anomaly. These children are a few of many, many children who deal with topics far above their age and maturity level. These children live in Douglas County, the 7th richest county in the nation (that statistic was on the radio earlier this week). They do not live in a rough area, yet they suffer with some of the same afflictions. So it breaks my heart to know there are children who deal with these topics as well as poverty, drugs, gang violence, etc.
So I pray and pray for these kids and their families. I pray for God’s healing, for God’s peace and for God’s will in their lives. And I am there when they need me, in whatever way they do. There are some mornings with the children that a child will stand with their body against me and have me play with their hair. For 30 minutes straight. If that’s what they need for comfort, that’s what I’ll give them.
Children are just SO precious. They are gifts from God meant to be loved, cared for, nurtured and brought up by parents who love them unconditionally and make them the priority. They deserve the very best that their parents can give them.
As I pray God’s will for these children, I think of Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I already love my future children so much and I want so badly that they should never deal with the pain these children are dealing with. And I know that Stephen and I will try as hard as it is humanly possible to take care of the children that God entrusts to us. And with His help and the help of our family and friends, I feel confident that we will take care of them in the best possible way.