Friday, September 19, 2008

Mothers and Daughters

Jenny, one of the nurses on day shift, is pregnant with her second child, a little girl. She has a 2-year-old son, and this baby is due Oct. 8, though no one believes she'll go that long. She hasn't worked with us long--only 4 or 5 months--and though I don't know her well, working the night shift as I do, I decided to go through my patterns and stash and see if I could whip up a baby quilt for her.

As I've been choosing fabrics and layouts, I found myself thinking about my own baby shower (30 years ago, how can that BE?) and remembering how excited I was and how everything was in blue, because I was sure it was a boy, and how having a daughter was not part of "my plan", but was right in line with God's plan for us.

And then my thoughts wandered to my two "other daughters" and their mothers. The four of us mother/daughter pairs span a wide range of ages: Jenny's soon-to-be newborn, Aduri in Bangladesh will be 9 next month, Dalia in El Salvador is 15, and my daughter is 30. And yet, those of you who are moms know we never stop worrying about our daughters. We want them to be healthy and happy, to love and be loved, to feel their own self-worth, to have opportunities we never had.

My biological daughter and Jenny's daughter are blessed to be born in the greatest country in the world. Don't get me wrong, I am not among the die-hard feminist ranks, but think about this past year: we've had a woman run for president and one run for vice-president. It's amazing. There are female CEOs and surgeons and judges and engineers and professors and scientists everywhere, and no one thinks anything about it anymore. My daughter is an attorney. These opportunities weren't available 50 years ago. Now, in our country, and increasingly in other countries, women can make even more of a difference every day in their lives and the lives of those around them.

But what about Dalia's mom? Dalia's dad never married her, and she has 3 sons who may follow his example. Drugs are a big problem in El Salvador, and street gangs. Dalia is a teenager, that wonderful period in which parents are dismissed as being out of touch, behind the times, only interested in holding their children back. Teendom, that age of insecurity, of wanting to be like everyone else, yet wanting to be your own person, making your own decisions.

And Aduri's mom? She has 3 other children, also--one a teenage son, and the other 2 are younger daughters. She worries about putting food in their tummies. Aduri tells me her favorite foods are fish and rice. The information packet Compassion sent me tells me those are the ONLY foods most people in her region have to eat. She's probably never tasted an orange, never had a chunk of cheese, and who knows if she will ever taste chocolate? How do you feed a family of 6 on $18.00/month? In Bangladesh, children are in danger of being sold into slavery, and I have to wonder if sometimes the parents are the sellers.

Jenny's daughter and my daughter will never know these same hardships. They will have their own challenges, but thankfully, neither Jenny nor I worry about them being sold into slavery. We have strong men in our lives who give our daughters positive feedback, who make them feel valuable and loved.

Our heavenly Father can give my sponsored daughters much more, because Compassion is out there in the world, ministering to them and their families, teaching them a better way of living, enveloping them in God's love. I can't be there to hug my girls, but I send hugs and love through the mail. I remind them they are special beings, they are important, they matter in this world.

You can do this, too. You can make a difference in the life of someone you may never meet in this world. Here is a link to children who have been waiting for over 6 months for a sponsor, unable to understand how someone in a faraway land could care what happens to them. This was Aduri's story 9 months ago.

Maybe you just can't afford to be the sole sponsor right now. With gas prices rising, and foreclosures occurring right and left, health care costs skyrocketing, it's not easy to raise a family these days. It isn't always easy to squeeze another $32.00/month out of a tight budget. Maybe you can split the cost of sponsorship with a friend. Maybe your Sunday School class can take it on, or your quilting group. We are creative people--there are ways to get this done.

If you are already someone's sponsor, you know how it feels to get that "message from your sponsored child" envelope in the mail, with its crude drawing of sun and clouds and birds and laboriously written/translated sentences. You know the challenge of sending only paper gifts through the mail, and making the envelope no more than 1/8 " thick, when you want to send a whole box of items to make their lives easier. You know what it means to be more attuned to the name of their country when it's in the news, and wondering what effect that news might have on your child's life.

I'd love for you to tell me about your experiences, your sponsored daughter (or son!) in your comments or your blog. I hope you'll share these with me and whomever happens to wander this way. And if you haven't yet experienced this, please consider taking one of these children under your wings, be their long distance mom. The right words in these childrens' ears can give them hope, can lighten their loads a bit, can make a difference in their futures.

And isn't that what mothers the world over want for their children?

1 comment:

Shaun Groves said...

Great post! Thank you for using your voice to speak for Compassion's children.

Let me know if you ever need anything from Compassion.

To other bloggers reading this...If you'd like to blog on behalf of Compassion too, check out and sign up for monthly e-mail updates or to take a trip with us to the developing world. Thanks.