I had what is politely termed a “non-traditional” upbringing. What that means in real terms is that my family didn’t look like anyone else’s. I grew up in a time when families looked different than they do now. Mom (who often stayed home), Dad (who went to work), and multiple siblings. That was the norm that I was surrounded by but did not have myself. My parents were divorced. I didn’t meet my dad until I was eleven. I was an only child. And for the space of about three years I lived with my grandparents. I tell you this just as some background. I was never overly distressed by being different. I was at every point in my childhood deeply loved and well aware of that love. I tell you this so you have a little background when I tell you about my first bout with depression and what would now be considered a minor mental breakdown.
My mother worked nights and was at work when I got home from school. She didn’t finish her shift until midnight and would get home until one am. She needed her job, but couldn’t, obviously, leave a four year old home by herself until the wee small hours. So, I moved in with my grandparents until she could be reassigned to the the day shift. During the school years, she would come get me first thing on Saturday morning and bring me back on Sunday night. When school was out for summer she would come get me as soon as she got up and then drop me back at my granpdarents’ house on the way to work. The plan for this solution to be temporary. It took longer than she expected.
I had been living with my grandparents for two & a half years when things got bad. I would weep uncontrollably. Nothing would help, not my favorite foods, television shows, or toys. I wanted my mother and all I wanted was my mother. I would cry myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to play with my friends because they had what I didn’t. My grandparents adored me and showered my with love, but it didn’t matter. I wanted my mother. They took me to the family doctor to find out what was wrong with me. Bless him, he told them quite simply that I had told them what was wrong with me. I needed my mother and if they family wanted to find a way to make me better they needed to find a way to meet that need. That’s when Wednesday night dinners started.
My mother took an long break on Wednesdays for dinner and we would meet her at a restaurant close to her job. I got to see my mom for at least a little while during the week and it helped. I only had to go two full days at a time without seeing her and I got better. They got to know us well at that little place. We were regulars for a long time at that little hole in the wall Italian place which is probably why Italian food is comfort food to me even today.
The summer before I entered third grade my mom was offered a choice. She could take an even worse shift or be laid off. She chose to be laid off and moved me back home. The story has a happy ending because she was rehired working days and I stayed home from then until I moved to college. There were some other adventures but they are not relevant here. I was home.
Why am I telling you all this today? That should be obvious. Over 2300 children have been taken from their parents on our border. Not for their own well being but as a punishment. They are not being left with loving family members as I was, they are being incarcerated in ‘long term shelters’. They don’t get to see their parents every few days or even every weekend, they have no idea when or if they will ever see their families again. I can only think that if I, loved and supported as I was, could fall into depression what more damage are we doing to these children? And will they ever recover?
There are a couple of Disney movies that I don’t watch. Ever. Dumbo is one of them. The scene with Dumbo being ripped away from his mother followed by her attempt to comfort him in spite of their separation just presses all my buttons. In spite of that, the song “Baby Mine” has been stuck on a loop in my head for days.
“Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part
Baby of mine”
These children are mine. They are yours. They belong to all of us and they are weeping. They need us to be strong. They need us to try to mitigate the damage that is being done to them. They need us to help them get back to their parents. It is the right thing to do. Not sure in spite of all evidence that calls us to fix this? Here’s what Jesus has to say. It is not ambiguous,
Mark 9: 36-37
Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
What is being done in our name is wrong and it’s time for it to end.