Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Six years ago, my husband Jimmy and I were anxiously waiting for the birth of our second child, who was due in a few days. I had been walking as much as possible for the several days prior, in the hopes of speeding up our child’s arrival. It appeared to pay off early in the morning the day on July 27, 2001.

My labor began as normal, but was complicated by the discovery of a prolapsed cord. This occurs in 1 in 200 – 300 births, and results in the death of the child in 10 percent – 17 percent of cases. Once my obstetrician determined that an emergency c-section was required, everything began to move fast. Within seconds, there were too many people to count in the delivery room and I was rapidly wheeled to the operating room. Within 15 minutes, my husband was holding our second child while I was recovering from the effects of general anesthesia. Thank you, Dr. Suarez, for saving Robert’s life.

At the time, the delivery appeared to be the hard part, but I now realize that the delivery of a child is just the first of a long series of hard parts. Raising a child properly requires a daily effort.

With Robert turning 6 today and scheduled to start kindergarten in two weeks, my days as the mother of a preschooler are ending. What his teachers will expect of him will be different from what I expect of him. His life will be shaped by greater structure and more academic requirements. Assuming all goes according to plan, he will learn life lessons and they will be reinforced. My responsibility as a parent will grow from making sure he is fed, clothed and safe to ensuring that he learns the lessons he needs to be successful and happy in life.

There are personality lessons: be nice to others, be honest, share, be polite, and be cheerful. There are personal activity lessons: be on time, finish your work and pay attention. All of these lessons are important, take practice and develop over time.

There are also lessons that need to be learned regarding the responsibilities of being a United States citizen. I believe that being a United States citizen brings with it responsibility to work hard, be personally responsible, to help others and to participate in our government.

Work hard and accept that it can take time to learn, which can be a hard process. Also accept that it can take time to achieve rewards for your work. Instead of complaining, it is often best just to accept that hard work is required, then sit down and focus. Soon, you will be surprised at how much you have learned and how much you have done.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.