When your children are little every problem they have feels huge. They cry and you need to determine if they’re hungry or dirty or lonely. A child is mean to them at the park and your heart bleeds to make it okay. They need a shot at the pediatrician’s office and you wish you could take the needle yourself rather than watch them cry.
And then they get older…
The older they get, the bigger the problems grow. Let me give you an example.
My boyfriend and I were in a taxi in Greece last week on a gorgeous, remote island. Our driver called himself “Danny Boy”. When I asked the row of cab drivers who spoke good English he called out, “I do!”. And he did. He had lived in Australia for many years, and was married to an Australian woman who teaches English on the island. He was born and bred on the island, so he knew it inside and out. We were very happy with our choice.
As we drove around the island, his phone rang continually, and he took short conversations in Greek, which we did not understand.
“That was my wife,” he explained after the second or third call.
“Does she call often?” I asked, to be polite.
“Not usually,” he replied. “We are having a very serious family problem,” he added. We didn’t ask, mind you… he wanted to tell us.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, always the trained therapist. Ask and listen and you will learn.
His twenty-one year old son was in jail in Athens. He had been hassled by a group of British guys a few days earlier and something “snapped” in him. He killed one of them with a pen knife. As I listened, my blood ran cold in my veins. Our driver’s son had murdered a nineteen year old boy with a pen knife. He had also stabbed five others with it. His life is basically over, but not as over as the poor nineteen year old’s.
We read about it in the paper when we got back to the States. The boy faces twenty years in prison, but the other boy will never breathe for another moment. Both mothers are ruined, their lives changed forever.
We birth our babies.
We love them.
We nurture them.
We teach them.
We hold them and kiss them and comfort them.
We bandage their boo-boos.
We brush their hair.
We bathe them.
And they get older. Day by day we watch them change and grow. The older they become the less we can control them. Their problems get bigger. A bad grade on a test. A blackout from drinking. A rejection from a college.
We still feel their every ache and pain, but we cannot do as much to assuage them.
Imagine this family and the pain they are experiencing. Their son’s life will never be the same. If he is lucky, he will be out of jail when he’s forty years old, but he will forever have the blood of another boy’s loss of life on his hands, and so will his family. What did they do to raise a son capable of murdering another boy? Why couldn’t he ignore the taunts a walk away, a bigger man?
Having children is the best thing I have ever done and I love my daughter and son unconditionally. They are the loves of my life and I would do anything for either of them. My father always told me that once you have a baby your life will change forever and it’s so true. The rewards are endless, but so is the worry. We wait for the door to open and close when they go out at night. We worry when the phone rings, showing their number, at an unexpected time. We hurt when they hurt. We rejoice when they’re successful. We love them painfully.
We breathe a sigh of relief every night when they get into bed and they are okay.