Archive | June 2013

To Jillian on her 30th birthday

Thirty years ago it was just you and me, yea there were people with lab coats and scrubs all around jill babyus, but all I saw was you, and all you saw was me. I loved you from the moment I knew you were coming and prayed for a girl for the whole nine months. When they placed your swaddled body in my arms at last, I didn’t unwrap you immediately to count fingers and toes, like normal mothers do, I just stared at your beautiful face and thanked God for you, my precious last baby.

Scan 20My wild child with the uncontrollable hair. The child who talked with her whole body while her eyes sparkled. The two year old who accused me of not understanding her emotions. The eight year old who told me that I wasn’t fun anymore. My accident-prone little klutz, I’m still apologizing for handing down that gene. The thirteen year old with her first broken heart, you knew that you could always cry in front of me and not be ridiculed. The fifteen year old who wondered how I could still love her after a knucklehead decision; Child, I’ve always loved you, unconditionally.Scan 18

Your life plays out in the pictures taken by my heart. Sitting on the bleachers watching you make it to first base at your softball games. Your ballet recital with you in a lavender tutu and mascara’d lashes so long they dirtied the lens of your eyeglasses. Seeing the little number 12 running up and down the basketball court throwing her entire heart into the game. Learning how to cheer on a swimmer with short bursts of, “Go Go Go”, while you swam all of your high school years finally making it to the county championship. All are moments I see when I close my eyes.

Scan 17I was proud of you when you decided to make your way to William Patterson instead of the Rutgers, like all the women in our family. A place where you wouldn’t be someone’s little sister anymore. It was a brave and gutsy move from a kid whose steel spine was beginning to show. You still had your flighty moments but those receded into the background when you signed the papers that made you a nursing student. You took my breath away the first time I saw you in your uniform, as much as you hated it.college jill

All the liquids in my body made their way to my eyes at your Pinning Ceremony. There in front of my eyes, wavering in the candlelight, was my baby girl becoming a professional woman. As a class officer, you played a part in the ceremony and my heart overflowed with pride at the woman you had become. A few days later we cheered ourselves hoarse at your university graduation just so you could hear us as they called your name.

Jillian de la Hoz, BSN. Yes, it had a nice ring to it. As a nurse, you have flourished. It is the best career for someone with a huge heart and mounds of compassion. I even accept the scoldings I get from you because they are earned, but also because they are given with love.

Many years ago, you had to write an essay about someone you looked up to. You chose to write about me, so now I turn the tables just to let you know that I absolutely look up to you. Being chosen to be your mother has been my greatest joy.

Happy Birthday Jillybean!943099_10200183999228354_606713489_n

Is it time to hang up the clipboard?

I’ve known that I wanted to be a Social Worker since my sophomore year of high school. It’s been part of my persona since I graduated from college 32 years ago. So even thinking about changing gears, at this point of my life, is scary as shit. Am I actually ready to hang up my clipboard? And if I am, what’s next for me? I’m not ready to stop working and while my technology skills have improved, they may not be ready for the current market.

All Social Workers wear capes

All Social Workers wear capes

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, and I do it well. I’m at the top of my game. Social Work is not a stagnant profession, it is a living, breathing, constantly changing job. Why? Because our clients are living, breathing, constantly changing human beings. That’s why. Duh! I’ve worked with juvenile delinquents throughout my entire career, and have held a few titles: Probation Officer, Social Worker, Social Work Supervisor, and Court Expediter.

Juveniles delinquents are probably the most honest liars you ever want to meet. Working with them saved my own daughters a lot of grief. No matter what the consequences of their youthful antics were, at least they were not wearing a jumpsuit and shower shoes.

expediterIn the early part of my career, we were pretty much overwhelmed with car theft and drug dealing. Then we were overrun with the children of drug abusers, the so-called “crack babies”. The kids who, through no fault of their own, could not make rational decisions because their wiring was faulty. The juvenile justice, child protection, educational, and health care systems cracked under the pressure. We were drowning and so were our clients. A juvenile detention facility with a capacity of 100, was suddenly serving an average daily population of 245, and it was my job to ensure that those children received adequate, appropriate care and guidance from their assigned worker.

The juvenile justice system was the first to respond and make an entire overhaul. Subsequent tweaks, a buy in from the court system, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears later, we have a system that only detains those who should be there. The rest are sent home under supervision, our supervision. While we can now boast of an average daily population in the 80s, the struggle continues to ensure that those children receive adequate, appropriate care and guidance.

So getting off my soapbox and focusing on my own dilemma. Being passionate about the work I do and considering early retirement are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Why leave a job I enjoy? The current job market may not be ready for a dinosaur like me, and as youthful as I may seem, I am a dinosaur. I believe in a strong work ethic. I believe in doing the job I’m paid for. I believe in going above and beyond.

I’ve given myself a year to make this decision, and I’m going to take every minute of that year, all five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, to weigh the pros and cons.