May 21, 2012

Fostering His Potential

The toy figures are all carefully lined up in formation on the coffee table, as if they are waiting in anticipation for what will they will be asked to do next.  The young boy in front of them holds a stick in his chubby hand, the expression on his face every bit as serious as an orchestra conductor at the start of a complicated musical masterpiece.   Evidently, the symphony is about to begin.  Over the next few minutes, his little voice sings perfectly on key the tune to Beethoven’s Fifth:  “Dun dun dun duuuuuun. Dun dun dun duuuuuun,” while the stick alternates between being a conductor’s baton and a violin bow.   I watch and listen with admiration, wondering,  “Will this three-year old boy grow up to be a famous musician?”

Unfortunately, I may never know the answer to that question.  In spite of the fact that he has been my son for 2 ½ years, I don’t know how much longer he is going to live with me, how many more days that I will have the privilege of being his mother.  I only know that I have this one day to make an impact on his life, to teach him the things that truly matter, to foster his potential.

May 11, 2012

Loving the Unlovely

The first thing I noticed when she entered my front door was the stench.  Her greasy, unwashed hair smelled like stale cigarette smoke mixed with an adult’s foul body odor, and the smell wafting from her feet suggested that nobody had changed her filthy socks and shoes in way too long.  She may have been hungry or ready for a nap or in desperate need of a hug and reassurance, but I didn’t offer her any of those things.  My only thought was to throw those disgusting shoes into the outside trash bin and to get her dirty body into a warm, sudsy bath.

May 1, 2012

Where are the Lifeboats?

The sun shone brightly overhead, lending warmth to the chilly spring day.  The excitement in the air was palpable, as passengers leaned over the deck railings and waved farewell to friends and loved ones on shore.  The lively music from the band on board, the streamers zigzagging through the air, and the prim and proper crew members liberally offering champagne were all evidence of the celebration that this moment deserved: after four years of designing, building, fitting, and trial runs, the ship was finally embarking on her maiden voyage.

Some of the passengers had waited their entire lives for this amazing opportunity, saving their hard-earned wages, reading up on tour books and collecting travel brochures, and dreaming of the adventure that lay ahead.  Perhaps a few were seasoned travelers, having made several similar voyages in the past, and although there was no denying the joyous occasion, their enthusiasm was balanced with a dose of reality.   There may have even been some who felt anxiety and trepidation about the impending passage, unsure of how susceptible they are to seasickness, or how the unfamiliar food will taste, or what unknown dangers lay in the middle of the ocean when no land is in sight.   But whoever they were and whatever their personal thoughts and emotions at that particular moment, once the ocean-liner left the dock, they knew that there would be no turning back.

The birth of a newborn baby into a family is generally a joyous occasion, often celebrated, not only by the mother and father themselves, but together with friends, families, and loved ones.  It marks the beginning of an adventurous journey!  Some parents have eagerly awaited this moment with careful planning and preparation by reading parenting books or taking classes, and decorating the new baby’s room.  Other parents may be hesitant and anxious about their new role, not quite sure what to expect in the months and years ahead.  There may even be some who have stumbled upon this moment unintentionally, but instead of choosing other options like abortion or adoption, they resolve to embark on this excursion with courage and optimism.  But regardless of their individual situations and attitudes, one thing is certain: the addition of a child into one’s family is an irrevocable, life-changing moment.