In the pictures above they are eating ice cream that I bought them from the ice cream man at a neighborhood Easter egg hunt. It was about 60 degrees that day, as you might have guessed by their long pants and jackets. It was not really an ideal day for ice cream, but little kids don’t really understand appropriate ice cream-eating weather, and if they see an ice cream truck they are going to ask you for an ice cream treat. Prior to the neighborhood egg hunt we celebrated my niece’s 3rd birthday party at Chuck E Cheese’s. There was pizza. There was cake. My kids were in heaven.
We spend a lot of Saturdays like this in our family: attending parties, community events, or sporting events for the kids. Since we both work, Saturdays are our one day to spend as a family so we tend to schedule fun activities on that day. Sure there is work to be done and not every Saturday is spent gallivanting around town for the kids, but a lot of them are.
They are my kids.
I want the world for them. When I take them to the Air & Space Museum, I wonder if I will spark a dream inside of one of them to be an astronaut. When I take them to the zoo, I wonder if their love for animals will inspire one of them to become a veterinarian.
I read books and blogs and talk to friends about parenting. I try all the tips on raising happy and successful kids. It’s as if when they turn 18, there will be some presentation, and I will say, “Here you go world. Here are my kids. They’ve been loved, nurtured, cared for and cultured to the best of my ability. They are yours now.”
But it doesn’t happen like that.
They will always be my kids. A piece of me will continue to advocate for them until my final breath. There might be times when they will want me to step aside, and I will have to hold my tongue. But I am their mother, and for as long as I live, I will want what is best for them.
That’s what moms do. That’s what dads do. They fight for their kids. They try their best for their kids. They work multiple jobs for their kids. They make hard, desperate decisions for their kids. And sometimes that means their kids are home alone for long periods of the day. Sometimes that means there is no food for dinner. Sometimes that means they need to sell their older child into forced labor to feed a younger child.
I cannot possibly understand the circumstances these parents are in to make these decisions. I do not know the pain they must feel at night not knowing when they will see their child again. I do not know the anguish of wondering where the money will come from to pay the next month’s rent.
I do not understand that kind of suffering, but I understand the common goal. I understand what it’s like to be a parent and to want my child to thrive. If the events in Boston last week taught us anything, it’s that we are people who can come together and help each other in crisis. Every day, both locally and globally, children are in crisis. Some are waking up and going to bed hungry. Some are dropping out of school because they fell behind at an early age and never managed to catch up. Some are being forced into labor.
There are things we can do to help.
This week I’m submitting my application to go to Africa in December. I want to go to Sierra Leone and fall in love with God’s children at the Child Rescue Centre. I want to tell them in person that they are special and worth it.
In this great big world we are one big family of God’s people. And every child deserves a chance. Every child deserves to go to bed with a full belly. Every child deserves an education. They deserve to know they are loved.
They are our kids. And that is what we do for our kids.