The past few days I’ve had a chance to reflect on my career in residential childcare. One of the big concerns my wife and I had when we decided to start a family was how we would raise our own family in the atmosphere of a group home.
Like most couples that find themselves in the same situation, we worried about one of the boys molesting or hitting the baby. We even briefly discussed other options to make a living. Thankfully, we put it all in Gods hands and decided to see how things would progress as we started our family in the shadow of the “System”.
Over time I have learned to appreciate the richness, vitality and love that comes along with living in a big house with several kids. At this point, I can’t imagine our family without the boys we live and work with. I can’t, and won’t, imagine any other scenario in which my daughter will grow up without having other kids around and helping in her own way, to make another person feel loved and part of a family.
I know all to well how blessed I am. There was a time when I drove a tractor trailer down the road and missed every moment of my kids lives. Birthdays, holidays and life milestones like taking a first step or saying that first real word. I ran the road chasing a dollar in the belief that the more I made the better everything at home would be. It didn’t take to long before I realized that it would never be enough money to justify being absent from my family.
There are ups and downs with any career, and living in a group home has it’s pros and cons. But it’s a place where I get to be a part of my daughters life. I have been there since the moment she took her first breath and her first steps. I have spent more time with my wife in the last few years than most couples do in 20. Our family has been given the opportunity to do the best we can to love and take care of kids that need somebody to care.
I’d be lying if I told you it was all gravy. I’m overweight and have an ulcer the size of a hub cap. My day starts at 5:30 am and normally goes until 11:00 at night before I can get a moment to myself. I work with a few adults that may very well be clinically insane and don’t even get me started about dealing with some of the teachers and familys of our kids.
But it’s all worth it. Every blasted waking moment that God gives me to settle a fight, wipe a tear, step in a puddle of pee, wrestle, play, stress about a non-existent budget, get my car keyed, teach a kid to read or tie their shoes, see a family get put back together, watch my cat get thrown out the second story window, take down a tobacco smuggler and go on a bike ride- it’s all worth it.
What can I say? I love what I do. It’s hard for me to understand sometimes why there is such a high turnover in this field. I think the best thing you can do is find humor in all the kids do and to remember, there’s always a tractor trailer out there with your name on it if you need to get away from your life.