Being a parent isn't the hardest job on earth, being a good one is.
I remember when Dude was about 10 days old and I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn't slept for more than an hour at a time since he was born, I was leaking from every possible place on my body, I was sore from birthing Baby Budzilla (he was 10lbs 7oz and almost 24 inches long) and nursing him every two hours. I can clearly remember standing in the shower, the first one I had had in what felt like years, and bawling my head off. I was a mess!
I look back on that day often and ask myself, "What the heck are you crying for?! That was the easy part!!!"
Some days I would give almost anything to go back to when my biggest concern with the kids was how long they are going to nap for and if they had a BM that day. If I would have known then what I know now I would have cherished those exhausting but comparatively carefree days. I would have savoured the cocoon we were in, how sheltered we were from outside influences and expectations. I would have basked in the baby-bliss just a little more.
Because of the age of our kids and where we live our challenges with them are still nothing compared to what some parents face. Recently I heard from a friend that I don't see very often. She has a son that is a couple of years older than Dude and I knew that she was having some trouble with him. He's at that preteen age and had had a rough year at school and in their neighborhood. There's a lot of gang activity in her area and her son was being alternately harassed and recruited by gang members. In July things got so bad that my friend knew that if she didn't act quickly and drastically she might lose her son for good.
So she made the tough decision, the right decision. My friend packed up her son and shipped him off, halfway across the country to live with his aunt. This might seem like an extreme reaction but my friend had seen other kids she cares about go down the same path her son was on and it scared her. Even though she is plagued by doubt and loneliness she is sticking to her guns, so to speak; her son is there and she is here and that's just the way it is for now.
My friend's son is doing well, settling in to his new life with his aunt and my friend says that even though she still gets the odd call from the gang recruiters and neighborhood thugs looking for her son she feels like a weight has been lifted. She can see that this right decision has given her son a chance to live and grow and be successful. She can see him growing into a man of integrity and purpose rather than squandering his life away in jail ... or worse.
No one said being a parent is an easy job, in fact people tend to say the exact opposite. I just hope that I will always have the guts to make the right choices for my kids, even if those choices are not the easy ones to make.
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.