Sometimes I really hate my job.
I hate it when I have to wipe poop off the bathroom floor. I hate when I have to run around like a crazy person trying to get a million things done in fifteen minutes. I hate it when I have to try and sort through hundreds of pairs of sock. And mostly I hate it when I have to pick nits. I really hate picking nits.
Sometimes I love my job.
I love my job when I get to play monster tag with kids. I love seeing kids that have been gone a long time, seeing how well they are doing. I love making kids laugh. I love that my job allows me to be silly and talk in funny voices. I love that my work attire is jeans and a t-shirt.
And sometimes, I just don't know what to think about my job.
Right now we have this 4 month old baby girl. Tonight was a little crazy, as opposed to all those other nights that are totally normal and mellow, so I was helping out by snuggling with the baby. She was so beautiful with her brown hair and her feet sticking out of her pink jammies I just wanted to eat her up. Or maybe bring her home and let her be Norah's little sister.
I should have known not to snuggle with a little baby, especially given the way I have been so sensitive about all things related to babies for the past...five months. I should have taken into consideration the fragile state of my heart. But I didn't, so when this little girl started rubbing her face into my shoulder, or holding onto my hands and trying to sit up, or whimpering for food, I lost all hope. She too closely resembled Norah, was too much like my little girl.
Driving home I was struck, once again, with the cruel reality that this is a mean and complicated world where babies can't have their mamas and are forced to cry out for a stranger's comfort. I fiercely wanted to give her as much love and comfort as I give Norah but I had to face the fact that I would be leaving in a matter of hours and she would wake up in the middle of the night to yet another stranger.
This has happened to me before. The last time it was a little blonde haired boy who always wore red tennis shoes. I just could not get over how much he reminded me of my little brother and it broke my heart to see him crying at night. I wanted to hug him and tell him I loved him and that it was going to be ok because I would always be there for him. But that would have been a lie and now he probably doesn't even remember my name.
Just when I think I have mastered the art of detaching from these kids, another one sneaks in and punches me right in the gut, making me painfully remember exactly what it is I do at work. Why I even have a job at all.
I have a job because there are parents who do not know how to love their children. And that's a tragedy on all sides. Tragic for the children, obviously, for they are often bounced around from place to place never really learning what home is, but also tragic for the parents who lose their children because they don't know--were never taught--how to love and care for their kids. It is tragic that the child protection system has to spend so much time coming up behind and cleaning up these disasters that there is no time left for building healthy families out of the wreakage. So my job is to love on kids who need loving, and even as altruistic as that sounds I can't help but wonder whether it makes any difference at all. I'm just another transient stranger in the end.
One time I was driving home from work thinking about how unfair it was that these beautiful kids have their innocence taken from them in such barbaric ways and I remember thinking that I would never do that to my kids. But you know, I am just as fallen as the next person, and if left to my own devices have the evil capability to hurt my own baby. What a scary thought.
So in the end, I am incredibly grateful to have the family I do because they taught me what it means to love and care for one another. My family is imperfect, but they taught me--are still teaching me--how to be a good mama. I am grateful to have the support I have, because without it I would be lost. I am grateful that God has chosen to give me the grace and strength and whatever else it takes to be a good mama. And I suppose all of this is to say thank you to everyone who has helped me.
The world is mean and complicated, but it is also terribly, almost painfully, beautiful.