The pure innocence of love
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Life is not fair. No matter how much the government intervenes, how hard we pray, or how much we wish it to be true, the reality is that life does not come with an impartial rule handbook and a set of monopoly dollars to start us all off. Even if it did, we are each unique beings with distinctive skills and motivations, living in a world filled with random chaos. I accept this truth, although I never will fully embrace it.
One particular injustice that has always saddened me deeply is the unfair nature of parenting. I’ve known so many people who desperately wanted a child, yet after years of struggling with fertility treatments never saw their dream come true. I’ve known amazing parents who raised loving children with great sacrifice and guidance, only to lose them to unforeseen catastrophe. I’ve watched others struggle under the heavy blanket of catastrophic child sickness, and bore witness to parents who have lost their children to these senseless terminal illnesses.
Walking through the gardens of child loss with fellow bereaved parents has made me realize that our children are indeed our world. The immediate bond that occurs the moment a child enters our life is not comparable to any other feeling or sensation. The same is true when a child leaves us. Life can never be the same, because we have lost an integral part of ourselves. It is like living without arms and legs. We are still alive, still functioning, but the magnitude of our loss is enormous, and a constant reminder of all that was. We are trapped in a world that keeps churning forward, yet we remain stranded, with no limbs, no breath, and an altered future, with no ability to comprehend what has just happened.
Nothing enrages me more than the senseless acts of depraved cruelty that some humans commit against their children. I cannot call these people “parents,’ for a true parent is tasked with protecting and loving their child. Exploitation and abuse are synonymous. The role of a parent is to provide a safe environment, with boundaries, rules and expectations, to nurture a sense of self-respect and self worth that enables your child to flourish into a responsible and compassionate adult.
When I learned the news of the NH lawyer who so horrifically abused her young daughter last week, repulsion seeped over me like a burning shower of acid. This impressionable young girl is the same age that Jaiden would be, a sweet and naïve teenager, with the whole wide world in front of her. The blood pounded in my temples with such fierce and painful intensity I had to stop and cry for a moment. How could this selfish monster so blatantly and purposefully destroy the bond of mother and child with zero concern for the consequences of her actions? The answer remains irrelevant, the damage she has done irreparable.
These senseless actions remind me of the story of a young boy who had a problem controlling his temper. His father took him outside one day to the fence in their backyard and gave him a bucket of nails and a hammer. He told the young boy that each time he felt so angry he wanted to explode, that he should instead hammer a nail into the fence, rather than acting on his anger. The boy soon learned that exchanging an episode of hurtful words or actions with the soothing process of swinging the hammer into the nail was much more pleasing. As the days passed, he noticed that he was hammering fewer and fewer nails. One day it occurred to him that he had not swung that old hammer for more than a week. Excitedly he took his father out back to show him. His father smiled with great pride, and suggested that for each day he did not act out in anger that he should remove one nail. The weeks passed and one day all the nails were finally gone.
Again, the boy took his father by the hand and brought him out to the fence. The old man gazed deeply into his son’s eyes. He paused and cleared his throat before speaking. “My son, do you see all the holes that remain in the fence? They are reminders of the damage that was done. Like hurtful words and actions, we may apologize for our behavior and feel remorseful, but the damage is done. The holes remain, whether they are in the fence, or within the hearts of those we have hurt.”
Our goal is to protect our children from those nail holes. Parenting is certainly a difficult job, and often times a thankless one. There is no salary, no annual bonus and no chance for career advancement, except perhaps to that of Grandparent! I can attest to the fact that having a full time job is easier and undoubtedly less stressful. Yet, for all the times I have been vomited on, forced to alter or abandon important plans due to unforeseen child illness, or blamed for being ‘unfair,’ for all the days spent doing load after load of laundry, sink after sink of dishes, changing diapers, wiping noses and carting children from one event to the next, I would not trade my current job of full time parent for anything in the world. These moments I spend with my little ones are priceless indeed.
When a child crawls into my lap at the end of the day and whispers into my ear “Mommy, I love you so, so much!” there is simply nothing more magical. No bonus, promotion or dream job could ever compare with the pure innocence of love that a child brings into our world.