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.
Be responsible for yourself. Inherent in the concept of personal responsibility is the idea that each individual is responsible for himself or herself. You are responsible for your health, your finances and your life. You are responsible for understanding and obeying the rules and the law. When events do not work out, the first person you should look toward as responsible is yourself.
Help others less fortunate than yourself. While you should be responsible for your activities, there will always be those who are less fortunate due to circumstances beyond their control. Reach out to them and assist them, whether through monetary donations or personal assistance. At some point in our lives, we will all need assistance from others.
One of the greatest responsibilities we have as citizens is to participate in our government, through voting, service and activity. After all, if we are a government “of the people by the people for the people,” as Lincoln states in his Gettysburg Address, then every person has the responsibility to participate in the government. We cannot assume that others will do it for us, because if all assume that others will serve, no one will serve.
One of the most famous quotes from the United States Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”-- Note that the Declaration of Independence does not guarantee happiness, just the pursuit thereof.
My job as Robert’s parent is not to ensure his happiness, but rather to help him gain the tools that he will need to pursue happiness.