Cherishing Children

Aug 25 / Jill Bertelsen

The first time you hold your baby is unforgettable. They are yours to care for, to teach, to cry and to laugh with. Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine your little baby all grown up! In moments when we may be frustrated with our child or upset that they are not listening to us, it is challenging to see the incredible potential they have.

I lived in Germany for 3 months while my husband had an internship. My son Ross was about 14 months old and I was finishing school online. It was a whole day event to walk to the grocery store or try to google translate everything so that I don’t buy cream when I needed milk. Because I do not speak or read German, I relied on and became much more aware of nonverbal communication.

While I was waiting for the bus the local high school finished for the day. There was a herd of teenagers standing right outside the bus stop that I needed to get off of. They were pushing and laughing before the doors opened and I could feel the stampede about to begin. The doors opened and 2 boys raced past me. But one young man, about 14, stretched out his arm and stopped the masses from pouring all around me. He helped me get Ross on the bus and ensured that we were seated before everyone piled in.

This may seem like such a simple thing, but without him I would not have been able to get off at my stop with a stroller, diaper bag, baby, and teenagers running all around me. This made me more aware of others and since then, I have taken note  of how I was treated in other places. I seemed to be the most important person wherever I went. Let’s be honest though, that person was actually Ross. We would walk in the grocery store and at least 5 people would stop us to give him a smile. One time I was in the grocery store when my baby got really restless. I paid and tried to grab my groceries and felt really rushed and a little overwhelmed. I walked outside the store and was getting situated. An older gentleman who was behind me in line came over and brushed my baby’s face. He then grabbed my hand and squeezed it and with a twinkle in his eye I could feel his support and gratitude for being a mother.

While I was waiting in the checkout line, people would sometimes let me go first. If I was getting on the bus, people would carry the stroller on and off for me and give up their seat for me to sit with Ross. When entering a restaurant we would have multiple waiters all because they wanted to play with our son.

When we got back to the United States, the special treatment we received seemed like a distant memory. It’s common to hear people talk about having kids after your life has started, after you’re settled, after your marriage is strong. Then once you have kids there are so many opinions of how to raise them. If you have a pacifier in their mouth some may judge you. If they cry in the grocery line people immediately want you to “get your child under control”.

I learned from a group of people where children are scarce, that being a mother and having a child is the greatest privilege one could have.

Often it may not seem glamorous to cancel your plans to be with a sick kid, or go to Walmart four times in a day because you forgot the all powerful fruit snacks, or to be constantly picking up toys off the ground. But remember this world needs strong parents who are not afraid to have challenges and to teach and love their children. Be patient, be kind, and know you are essential to raising this next generation. 

Thank you!