parental love

 

 

Re the horrendous crime of separating the children of immigrants from their parents. (And it is a crime for which there are no moral or legal reasons, no justification, and no excuses. As the Archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, put it: “To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral and evil.”)

I can’t help thinking about what parents must feel.

Becoming a parent is one of those human experiences that is the most important in a lifetime. That’s a clumsy way to put it, and it’s an understatement. But what else ranks with it? Birth? Death?

Shortly before my first child was born, my therapist asked me, “Do you feel ready to become a parent?”

I answered that I thought I was. “I’m as ready as I ever will be,” I said.

A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, and his wife, a clinical psychologist, had just had their first child. “Your life and your marriage will never be the same,” they told me. “Everything is different. You will never again have as much time for yourself or your spouse.”

A few days before our first child was born, my therapist said to me, in an admonitory fashion, “Do you realize that this new child will be a totally helpless creature? Totally dependent upon you for everything.”

I hadn’t really thought about it.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

When our son was born, I was a new person. The love was overwhelming and instantaneous. I was not the same person I had been the day before. I was a father. I was thrilled and terribly proud. But the outpouring of love I felt for our son was overwhelming. It was an emotion I had never experienced before. How could I have?

 

 

*****************************************************

 

A little while later, I had a conversation with a coworker of mine at The Wyatt Company. She was an attractive, personable woman.

She had just had her first child, a daughter. We were comparing notes about how it felt to be a first-time parent.

“You know,” I told her, “I never realized how powerful the emotion was and how immediate and total the feeling of parental love is. I thought that it was something that would develop or grow over time. Not that one wouldn’t be thrilled and proud to become a parent, but as you got to know the child your love would grow. I would sometimes hear stories about people losing a child in infancy or read about infant deaths in literature. I would always think it must have been hard, but at least the child was just an infant, so perhaps the parents didn’t know the child that well — perhaps it would make it easier to bear that.”

We both could see — and agree — that that was not at all the case. One’s love for a child is as strong and intense at the movement of birth as later, meaning at any stage of the child’s life. And, losing a child is the worst thing of all types of tragedies a parent can contemplate.

Not just losing, but having a child torn away from them without being told or knowing where they have been taken. Not being able to find them, or knowing if or when they will see their child again.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   June 2018

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s