Phil Kiernan, a chain smoking New Yorker twenty years my senior, was a social worker with Child Protective Services. Back in May of 1985 when I first started with the County, state laws for children were continuing to be revised. The first state law that was adopted to protect children from abuse was enacted in 1969.
According to Phil, San Diego was a "remove first, ask questions later" kind of county, and the policies were strict. Your priority was to protect the child. Figure out how and why the injury occured, and keep the kid out of the home until you're positive that the parents have corrected the problem.
"And that's nonsense," Phil said, "that you remove a six year old kid from the parents because one of them snapped their cap in anger over their job, mortgage, marriage, or whatever? The kid has a mark on his arm where the parent grabbed him or her because the parents were frustrated, and you put the kid in a foster home? The courts give the care of the kid to the foster parents, and that's crazy."
"And the best foster mother," Phil said,"the absolute June Cleaver of foster parents, still falls short of the worst Mom. Your Mom will always be "Mom" no matter what. Addict, alcoholic, emotionally and mentally outside the lines, she's still "Mom." Only one you've got."
"She's it. She's the whole deal. There is only one person with that name, only one person we call Mom. Do you know that more calls are made than on Mother's Day than on any other day of the year? That's because there isn't anybody to replace her."
"Our job is to make sure we know that. The Mom, no matter what, is the centerpiece. For a kid, she keeps everything together. Keep the kids with their Moms and help them parent. That's the best thing we can do for the kid. Remember that, OK?"
I do. Particularly today. And I remember all the women who crossed my path that allowed me to learn how to parent well, love completely, and lay the foundation of a family every single day.
May those women rest in your heart, wherever they are. There is "only one person with that name" for all of us.
God Bless Them All.