Thursday, July 23, 2009

The saddest thing I have ever encountered was an infant car seat I unearthed from the rubble in an abandoned apartment and brought home with a mind to clean up and pass on to someone who needed it. The tragedy is multi-layered. First was that this car seat was partly buried under dirty laundry in a unit that would put the homes on "How Clean is Your House" to shame, especially given the brief amount of time this particular home was occupied by these particular people. The seat was filthy, but it wasn't until I got it home & took my garden hose to it did I realize how filthy. The pad behind the cover is covered in mildew and may be unsalvagable.
OK, let's backtrack a little. I work at an apartment complex. A month or so a go a young couple came in, hoping to find a clean, safe place to rent. The story was that they were going to lose their children because of the antics of the upstairs neighbours. Everything looked ok, and we got them moved in. Before their first weekend had passed they were receiving noise complaints & visits from the police, and before the month was over they had been evicted-for noise, non-payment of rent and property damage. As it turns out the young man in in this story had a court date for something & wound up in jail, and his girlfriend left, and their new home became a flop house. Excuses & poor decisions aside, and believe me, there were plenty, this whole thing was a disaster.
I guess my point is, these people had very young children somewhere, children they claimed to want custody of, and yet they lacked the basic life skills to take care of themselves much less an utterly dependant child. It has been said that you need a license to get married, drive a car or own a dog, but any idiot can have a baby. Its sad & scary & too true. All I could do was pray these anonymous children found their way to good foster homes where they might get a fighting chance. Every child deserves to be loved & cared for. They don't get to chose the homes they are born into. This mess was pure selfishness on the part of the purported adults in this story, and its heartbreaking.
I have to wonder where this couple's parents were, and if this was somehow generational. This lack of knowledge arose from somewhere. I look at my own blessedly sheltered childhood-I had verything I needed, most of what I thought I wanted, I was loved, cherished-I knew, I still know, there is a safe haven from the storms of life. I knew my parents would fight for me no matter what. I have tried to provide the same for my own children. They are my most precious blessings, and they know it. They know, I hope, that whatever happens I will be in their corners. Don't mess with the mama bear! And then I look at my ex's childhood. A life of anger, fear, abuse, abandonment. No wonder he was unprepared to be a parent himself. He tried, I know he did, but he just couldn't put the past far enough behind him-or maybe, in the end, he just gave up, refused to seek help, advice, to try to make a better life than the one he had known.
Jesus said "Let the little chidren come unto me, & do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Mt 19:14) I'm not sure now what I'm getting at. I was just so utterly dismayed by the sad story in that dirty and mildewed baby carrier. Every night on TV we are bombarded with images of suffering childen in third world nations. Maybe we need to remember there are children suffering right next door. Those of us who are compelled to serve in the mission feild need to remember the mission feild we are already standing in. And the rest of us need to remember to at least be thankful we had parents who loved us & did their best to provide for our need.

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