I remain as amazed today as I was 33 years ago by the extraordinary gift of motherhood.
They weren’t perfect, thankfully, because who wants the pressure of raising a perfect child? But, my children’s mistakes stemmed from the chaos of their happy lives — messy rooms because they were busy and could not be bothered to tidy up and missed curfews because they could not control their sociability reflex.
Since then, I have come to know other children who make mistakes that stem from a desperate battle to maintain firm footing on the roiling landscape of a traumatic childhood. They lash out in a manner that ensures they’ll be heard and they try so hard to grab the steering wheels of their lives that they end up crashing in confounding ways.
My kids grew up in a safe place and never once had to flinch at the harsh onomatopoeia of flesh meeting flesh. Slap! Smack! Thump!
“What’s for dinner?” was a curiosity for them, and not a concern and they never had to stuff ketchup packets in their pockets or water down their mac and cheese to make a single serving last for days.
They could cocoon themselves in soft blankets of comfort that allowed them to emerge each day with optimism, and they treated me with a tenderness I acknowledge and still appreciate today.
Because of them and their breakfasts in bed, family hugs, stick-legged, belly-bodied drawings and open-ended invitations to their lives, I never developed the kind of calluses that make for a nice, thick skin.
I thought about that this weekend after a particularly challenging day.
Humans beget humans who beget humans, which can exponentially multiply our faults. But, with our humanity also comes empathy and compassion and these traits have the capacity for exponential increase as well.
We can’t make the world fair for each child who comes into it, but we can all offer hope for a better tomorrow.
There are plenty of ways to help.
May is National Foster Care Month. For more information on how you can help kids in need, contact the Outagamie/Calumet County Foster Care program, or click here.