Mother’s Dilemmas

“Children are a gift of the Lord”

December 2004

Another frosty, winter morning. Half consciously I turn off an alarm clock and try to overcome my aversion to getting of bed. Finally I get up and silently move through the apartment trying not to wake the rest of the family, especially children. I prepare myself for leaving for work and write down the most important directions for a babysitter (what the kids should eat, what she should pay attention to, what rehabilitation exercises she should do with Zosia). Although I can read a book or a newspaper on my way to work, and although my work is interesting and it gives me satisfaction, deep within I feel sorry for having to leave home and the children. I have a feeling that I am losing something irretrievably, and first of all, that the children lose something…

At work I’m very busy, the phone rings constantly, but I keep thinking about the children – if they have eaten, if they are not sick, how they feel, how the babysitter organizes their time. Spending so many hours outside, I have much time for myself. In addition to daily tasks concerning my work, I find a couple of moments for a short chat with a friend – of course, we talk mostly about the children; I can also look through a current newspaper. At home it would be rather impossible – four-year-old Antoś and two-year-old Zosia effectively occupy my time all through the day.

After work I can’t wait to come home. When I’m back, I hug the kids very tightly and… so we stay practically till the end of the day. They are so hungry for my presence that it’s hard to separate them from me. I do what I can to make use of the time we spend together, but I know I can’t make up for the whole day.

When I’m in bed late in the evening, I ponder on a possibility of staying home and raising my children alone – without a babysitter. Those blissful thoughts quickly disappear, dispelled by financial fears – I have to keep my job to pay off our credits. But this vision of being a full-time mom can’t leave my mind and… thinking about it, I fall asleep.

January 2005

I’ve just been to the neurologist with Zosia – since she was born, my little daughter has been suffering from numerous problems: incorrect muscle tension, incorrect physical development, strong allergy to almost everything and a complete lack of immunity. I can still hear what the neurologist said: “Your presence is of a great importance to Zosia, she needs you very much. Her development has stopped; what you can do is to devote her as much time as you can and look for help of a psychotherapist.” When my husband Bartek drives me to work, I can’t stop thinking about it. Then I can’t concentrate on my tasks, I can’t work. Finally I call Bartek and after a short talk we decide that I will quit my job and take leave. My husband asks me if I’m sure of this decision, if I realize that after the leave is over, I may not have anywhere to come back to. I answer that it’s been a long time since I was so sure of something. The same day I make an appointment with my boss. I’m so nervous; she asks me if I’m not pregnant again… I explain everything and she finally accepts my decision, although I can see it’s a problem to her…

At home I begin to have doubts and fears – how will we manage only on Bartek’s salary? All those credits, payments, costs of Zosia’s rehabilitation and therapy… But I can feel in my heart this is a right decision and some peaceful voice assures me: “Everything will be OK, you don’t have to worry because you’re in the right place and I care for you.”

In the evening, when reading the Bible, I find a passage that gives me peace and assures me in my decision: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth” (1 J 3:18).

June 2005

It’s been a couple of months since I’m home. I can’t say it’s easy or that I have a lot of time for myself… But I’m happy and my children are happy, too. I enjoy this time – the time of a wonderful intimacy between us, our shared mornings, breakfasts eaten without rush, walks, crazy plays. I realize it won’t last forever – one day the kids will go to school and I will have to come back to work. Our quality time won’t be the same anymore.

Zosia regularly visits a psychologist, a speech therapist and other specialists. She slowly makes progress in her development and what’s most important, she begins to show more interest in the outside world, in toys; she becomes more trustful and cheerful. I can see that my presence makes her feel safe and protected – something that she missed so much when I was working. As a result, she actively explores her surrounding. Antek, although unfortunately he still can’t go to kindergarten (because of a danger of bringing infectious diseases – very dangerous to Zosia), also seems to be more happy, more confident. Organizing the day for Zosia who requires regular exercises and special educational plays, and for Antek for whom I became a nursery school teacher, is quite a challenge for me. But I can see the results and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Lord blesses us generously and according to His promise, He secures us with all the necessary means – all the time my husband has a good job and I have a possibility to make some additional money. We also get a great support – both spiritual and financial – from all of our family. Again I realize how truthful the Word of God is: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). I deeply believe that I fulfill the role Lord appointed me to – I’m at home with my children, I try to pass down to them principles of Christian life, and most of all, I try to show them the love of God. I can feel His support in what I’ve been doing, although of course there are moments when I’m terribly tired and when my patience runs out. When I have doubts about the effectiveness of Zosia’s therapy, I turn on a computer and find a file called “Zosia’s progress. Reading all the painstakingly noted changes in her behavior and recalling her new accomplishments brings back the sense of purpose of all this effort. It also helps me recognize how beautifully God created my little daughter…

May 2006

Still not quite awake, I can hear the patter of tiny, bare feet on the floor. In a moment, already awaken, I feel a delicate touch of hair on my cheeks. I open my eyes and just next to me I can see Zosia – smiling sweetly, she shows me the trousers she wants to wear today. We stay for a moment in a warm bed and then we start another day. After breakfast, preceded by reading the Bible and a short prayer, we go to kindergarten. In a locker room I give Antoś a long and tender hug. Although he’s already five years old and a “grownup man”, as he says of himself, he still needs to be close to me, he needs my tenderness and most of all, my attention. When I see how my little boy flourishes in kindergarten, how he enjoys spending time with his peers and a possibility to experience new adventures in this new stage of his life – the stage of being a pre-school child – I’m very happy and grateful for being able to watch all these changes in my little boy.

Maybe in a year (if specialist tests confirm a correct level of immunoglobulin), I would be able to see the same sparkle in Zosia’s eyes, too. Meanwhile, there’s still a lot of work ahead of us – Zosia has been going through the more and more popular therapy of sensory integration. Our apartment resembles a gym – there are hooks hanging from the ceiling, enabling to attach various kinds of swings. Visiting friends can also “admire” other exercise instruments, wondering how it is possible that such a small apartment can have enough room for all this stuff. They also may wonder how I endure in this tight space with so many additional things and devices (rarely seen in an average home).

Although I’m very busy and I have a very tight schedule, sometimes I manage to find a moment for reading a paper. I’m terrified to see how some media try to present maternity in a very negative way. They publish opinions of many women for whom a child is a merely an obstacle to a professional carrier, to building a financial status. Those women either don’t intend to have children at all or they perceive a baby as a problem and an attempt on their independence and a desired way of living. But the truth is, maternity should be treated in a very special way – God entrusts us with a human being, an unusual gift we should take the best care of. Every child, even the one that requires more attention, time and care, is a unique God’s creature. For me it’s an honor and a great happiness to prepare my children for further life and to help them know God.

Ania Uszacka