There is a patch of wildflowers at an intersection I drive through on my way to work. You might consider them weeds, I suppose, but I get a little jolt of joy out of these flowers each day.

The city in which I work is poor, dirty, full of drugs and violence, has some of the highest rates of child sexual and physical abuse, has a horrible school department, corrupt infastructure, and it literally smells like shit, thanks to a municipal sewage plant.

When people ask what I do for work, and I tell them I am a social worker, a common response is, “Oh, that must be so rewarding!” Well, some moments are. But the truth is that sometimes going to work feels really hopeless. It hurts to think about children growing up exposed to unkind noises, sights, and smells. It is hard knowing I can only do so much.

 I only have to be there for a nine hour day, then I get to go home while other people live there 24/7. I’ve worked there for a decade, and some days it is easier to go to work because I am jaded and have my guard up. Other days it feels like it will never get easier, and maybe I’m not cut out for this work.

Some places in this world are just not nice, especially for children. Places that are hard and cold and unforgiving, places that challenge resilience and growth.

I look at those flowers growing on the side of that dusty highway, and I think, “bloom where you are planted.”

Apparently, this is a quote from Christian scripture which I take to mean, “do your best with what you have, whenever you can, wherever you are.” While I do not subscribe to much of Christianity, I do like this quote. It inspires me to spread hope and goodness even in the face of adversity.

It is also a little challenge for me to remain bright and positive when my day becomes dark or stressful.

Those flowers remind me that we pass by so much in a daze each day.  If we open our eyes a little wider we may see something exquisite.

Those flowers also remind me that even in a difficult place, there can be not only growth, but the potential to bloom.


5 responses »

  1. I can sooo relate to this. I also work in social work, though a bit removed from the most intense situations. I struggle on a weekly basis, sometimes daily, to decide if I can keep doing this work. There are the bright moments- the ones with more resiliency, a loving family member, a way out, an inuitive drive to bloom where they are planted. And there are the depressing ones- the ones that weigh on me and feel heavy in my heart and show up in my dreams, the ones that really make me wish I could convince their parent to change, to make better choices, to think about the consequences for their children’s sake. And of course those in between.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your point of view. Just as it is validating for me to hear from other moms who struggle with similar situations, so is it validating to hear from other social workers. I guess we do the work for a reason? I wonder what. . . let me know if you figure it out. Thanks again, Hannah. Peace.

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