Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I realized that I've kind of half assed my explanation of quitting my job with pretty much no idea what I'm doing. Sorry about that. Its just, I feel... umm.... hmmm

This is the kind of thing you can talk about and write about forever. The problems with doing child welfare, my job's hard, blah blah blah. And there's part of me that doesn't want to talk about it or share the details of what I assume you already know. Except maybe you don't. I mean, sure there's that glazed-over look and the obligatory comment of "I could never do your job," that is the response from EVERY person you ever meet at a party that says something child protection workers turn a blind eye to. That there are times when working with families is an impossibly difficult job.

My last week, I took a teenaged girl to the jail to facilitate a visit between she and her dad. Her feelings about the whole thing were impossibly complex. On the one hand, she understood why he was there and believed what he'd done was wrong and that he was where he should be. On the other, she missed her dad. Loves her dad. And is NOT the preferred child as far as her mother's concerned. So its a tremendous loss for her. Her dad was her ally. And her ally's in jail. Rightfully so, but still.

I tried to nurture her through it and support her. I told her what a good job she did. I held her and then let her go to the bathroom for her space.

Its an impossibly hard job though. There are times when the jailers look at you like you're the devil for wanting to bring someone to visit a molester. While at the same time, you just want to help someone see their dad. No matter how you slice it, that's a sad situation.

There's something valuable about spending your time this way. And something you just can't speak about.

There's no happy hour talk that involves bitching about that guy who you just know took your mug this morning.

To make a long story even longer, there's part of it that's inescapable. Its a hard job that's beyond hard. See also, holding a baby who has bruises on its forehead and ribs.

Add into the mix having had your own child.

Most parents ask y0u if you have children. Its a validity/litmus test. They feel like you can't understand what it is to be them if you're not a parent yourself. But the truth no one tells them is that you 'understood' better before you ever held a tiny person of your own. Before you ever gently got up over and over again to a hungry sweet face, all the while not minding. Not minding, because you waited and planned and were ready for this. Before all that, you thought you understood and it seemed so reasonable that someone would lose it in impossibly tough moments. But you thought that before you had all these HORMONES. Before you had a baby.

Once you do that, its a new kind of hard. You can't hold the babies the same way. Or think of 'understand' the same way. The truths you know are still true. That children are better with parents who are abusive than not if they are safe enough. If the parents are 'minimally adequate." But it doesn't stop all the nurturing instinct in you from leaking out onto these people's children.

You can't hug them better.

Add to that some really difficult clients.

Add to that lots of leadership changes.

Add to that the craziest asshole neighbors you ever met, and you've got a recipe for a burntout gal.

The neighbors have been a pretty significant factor. Taking pictures of me in the county car. Sending letters complaining to my employer. Clobbering each other at nights. He got arrested again. It was my husband who called this time. They're convinced it was me. Went after me for it. It all came down the first day or two my new boss started. That's just a little too far behind start from for my tastes. I turned in my notice instead.

So that's a lot of what happened. Like I said, I can talk this subject to death. And once the lid's off, the vomit-mouth is hard to shore up. So this is my best. I quit. It was the right thing. But its complicated too. You just have to trust that things will work out when you do the right thing. I have faith in that. We're smart. Rob and I will make it. And Magnus deserved his mom. So there it is.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for 'being there' for those who needed you. Thank you for realizing when to stop.

Anonymous said...

Rooting for you. And Rob. And Magnus.

Tammy said...

People don't know because they don't want to know. And that just makes it harder on the ones who deal with it. All the best to you and your family. And to those you've helped and those you couldn't.