Provide Like A Parent

Look at this photo. Beautiful, isn’t she? I look in those big blue eyes, and I see hope, happiness, and joy. That is why I named this child Leelou Joy. It’s how I felt about becoming a parent. But looking back, I realize there have been other times before Leelou when I was a parent.

This summer, think of yourself as a parent. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / oksun70

Like many of you, I have been there for someone who needed me. Sometimes, it was something simple—a hug and a pat on the back after a fall, or to celebrate someone’s new accomplishment; sometimes it wasn’t so simple, like the time I sat quietly at a sick friend’s bedside.

Those experiences gave me a clue as to what it would mean to be a parent.

I know you’ve been captivated, looking at those blue eyes in the photograph and thinking, “Wow … beautiful.” And she is. And they all are. But I have to show you the rest of the picture.

Oh, so that’s parenting too. It’s at once beautiful and disgusting. I’m happy to share with you that the object in her nose is a chocolate chip. She earned it for peeing on the potty. A lot of parenting is like that–beautiful, disgusting, funny, and maddening … sometimes all of those at once.

Your job as a camp staff member is much the same.

Face The Fear

I once read that having a child is like getting a tattoo on your face because you have to be fully committed. And with that commitment comes joy, nudity, mess, physical exhaustion, and fear. No one really talks about the fear because it is always there, looming.

The fear begins even before there is a child. Do I have what it takes? Am I ready for this? Am I committing to someone who has a child? Adoption? Conception? Could I conceive? Am I too old? Can I carry a child to term? Oh, and birth. Birth? Are you kidding?

Then a child shows up, and you realize that every decision you make for this little person matters. Deciding what diapers to put on becomes an epic choice. And since you’re sleep-deprived anyway, it just becomes too much.

Is the child hungry? In a clean diaper? When was the last time the baby slept? Does he or she just need to be held? Keep it simple because the finish line keeps moving.

Even when everything is finally quiet, you find yourself standing at the bedroom door trying to hear if the child is breathing. That is the fear.

However, the bad and the good are all so normal. I am surrounded by people who do this parenting thing all of the time, and I cannot believe how they function. So I am going to try to function too, and be appreciative of every moment.

A Mom’s Perspective

What an act of service being a parent is! Think of your parents or the person you relied on most as a child. It may have been a dad, grandparent, or guardian. Somebody stepped up for you, just as you can step up for campers this summer.

There is no greater act of service than to care for a child. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / michaeljung

An excerpt from the poem “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins eloquently expresses the life of a mother:

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,

laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,

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