“I Don’t Have.”
3 simple words that say so much.
There are so many things that we all would like to have, but don’t.
We commiserate and tell anyone who will listen, “I don’t have . . . . . “
But then we hear these words come from the mouths of our children, and they take on a whole new meaning.
“I don’t have any underwear.”
We always take an inventory of the clothing that children wear to our house when they arrive so that we can make sure we have everything ready for them when they go home. Sr. Mary was making a list for one of our boys and discreetly asked him what color his underwear was so she could mark it down. The boy just hung his head and said he didn’t have any on. Then he added, “My mom said I didn’t need any since it don’t show.”
“I don’t have any dolls.”
When she first arrived, she was fascinated with the toy kitchen and all of the accessories. She and her sister went immediately to them and began to play. When one of the staff pulled out a drawer with dolls and clothes, their eyes just lit up. For the next several days, they couldn’t be dragged away from their dolls. The girls told us they didn’t have any dolls at home. With so many children in the home, toys just didn’t last very long.
Or our parents:
“I don’t have anything for my children to eat.”
Mom had been struggling for a long time. She had been homeless off and on, but had managed to find a place for her children and her to stay. They had moved in with another woman she knew and were getting by. Then one day, she gave the woman her rent money, but the woman kept it and left, and never came home. Now, mom didn’t know what she was going to do. When Sr. Mary stopped by, Mom opened her cupboards and refrigerator, but there was nothing in them. She told Sr. Mary that the hard dinner roll her toddler held in his hand was the only food in the whole house. Sr. Mary returned with several bags of groceries because the next day the children would be starting school. They couldn’t go to their first day of school on an empty stomach.
“I don’t have any more diapers.”
It was the end of the month and things were typically tight. Mom’s food stamps had run out and she was having to make tough decisions about how to use what little money she had. She called us and asked us if we could help her. She gave us a list of a few things she needed. One of them was diapers.
Mom answered the door when we arrived at the house. Baby J. waddled around the living room with nothing on. Mom said she was completely out of diapers and was so happy we arrived when we did. I think Baby J. and the rest of the children in the house were, too.
Then there was T.
T. and his sister came to the house one day with their mom. They had been homeless for some time and forced to stay in an unsafe situation. Mom knew about Blessing House from a former neighbor and decided to call and see if we could help. T. and his sister had not been away from their mom before and were unsure of this new place. But they gave their mom a kiss and a hug goodbye and went into the playroom.
It really wasn’t too bad after all, he decided, especially because he got to keep his teddy with him to keep him company. Teddy seemed to be ok with the new place, so he guessed he was, too.
But at bedtime that first night, T. was really missing his mom. It just wasn’t the same . . not having her their to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight.
Hoping to distract him, I picked up his teddy and started an impromptu teddy dance on his bed. T. started to laugh and then finally the tears stopped. Then, without even thinking, I asked T., “You must really have fun with teddy at home, don’t you?”
T. was silent for just a second, then he responded:
“I don’t have a home.”
T. then wrapped his arms around Teddy and closed his eyes tight, the two of them traveling to a place that was safe where everyone could be together again.
There is so much that I take for granted.
Such basic things that I just expect to be there each day.
I wonder what would I do if they weren’t?
I don’t have