An 11-year-old looks after his sisters alone while their mom spends nights outside. One early morning, while his mom is away, the boy hears a knock on their door, but it isn’t his mom.
“What did you mean by again, William?” Sarah shot back. “Don’t act like you don’t know what lovemaking leads to!”
“Well, I don’t care! I did not sign up for this! WE’RE OVER!!”
These were the last words 32-year-old Sarah’s ex-husband said when he found out they were expecting their 4th child, Mia.
A year ago, Sarah’s husband divorced her and left her with their three kids, 10-year-old John, 8-year-old Cynthia, and 3-year-old Kathy, while she was pregnant with Mia.
Being an orphan with no other relatives in the world, Sarah had a hard time raising her kids. Soon, she began disappearing from home at night, and her eldest son John had to look after his younger siblings.
“I am ashamed to tell my children about the plant thing, so they don’t know.”
One early morning, Mia was being extremely fussy, and she started crying rather loudly. John scooped her up in his arms, gently rocking her, but Mia wasn’t ready to stop crying.
“Please stop crying, Mia. Mom will be home soon. Please!” he begged her. But Mia’s crying didn’t stop. Instead, it woke his other sisters, and they came rushing down the stairs from their room to the living room.
“John! We can’t sleep! Please tell her to be quiet!” Cynthia complained.
“John?” Kathy said slowly. “I think Mia is hungry! We need to give her milk!”
That’s when it struck John. Mia was probably hungry, which is why she was fussing. He went to the kitchen to prepare some milk for his baby sister and asked his other sisters to keep an eye on her while he was gone.
In a matter of minutes, John prepared Mia’s milk as Sarah had taught him and carefully poured it in Mia’s milk bottle.
“Here, Mia! Your milk is ready!” he said as he sat on the floor with her and began feeding her. Cynthia and Kathy were lying on the couch, scared to go back to their rooms, so John read them a story to help them sleep.
Thankfully, Mia’s crying stopped as she devoured the milk. But soon after, there was a loud knock on the door, which terrified all of them.
John looked at the time. It was roughly 5 a.m. Sarah didn’t usually return until 7:00 a.m., and he was afraid to open the door.
“Who are you?” Kathy shouted, and Cynthia immediately covered Kathy’s mouth with her palms. “Shhh, Kathy! Are you mad? What if it’s not mom?”
“I’ll go check, okay?” John said. “Don’t make any noises!”
John was holding Mia in his arms while he proceeded to answer the door. He gently pushed the stool to the door with his feet. Then he stood on it carefully and peered through the peephole, only to find that it wasn’t Sarah standing on their porch. Instead, it was their next-door neighbor, Jim, who was a police officer.
Jim and John were close. After William left, John somehow found that “fatherly” company in Jim and would share everything with him. When he saw Jim at the door, he was relieved. He opened the door and allowed Jim in. Cynthia and Kathy ran up to him, terrified, grabbing the back of his shirt.
“Chill. It’s Jim,” John said. “You don’t need to be scared.” He saw John holding Mia in his arms.
“Hey kids,” Jim knelt to face the girls. “I returned late from work and just thought of checking on you guys because I overheard someone crying. Is everything okay? Why do you guys look scared?”
“I thought a bad man came to our home. I was so scared….” Kathy started to cry and hugged Jim.
“Oh, it’s okay, sweetheart. There’s nothing to worry about. Where’s your mom?”
“We don’t know,” Jim said. “She often spends the nights out these days and returns in the morning. She never tells us where she goes.”
“Good Lord!” Jim sighed. “It’s okay. I’ll stay with you until your mom returns, alright?”
Jim helped John put the girls to bed, and he decided to wait with the kids until Sarah got home. He tried calling her, but her phone was dead.
While waiting for Sarah, Jim dozed off on the couch, and it was around 8: 00 in the morning when John woke him up.
“Come and have breakfast, Jim!” John shouted from the kitchen where breakfast was ready.
When Jim approached the dining table, he saw John checking Cynthia’s homework while Kathy sat on his lap and he fed her. He had already packed Cythnia’s lunch box for school, and she was having breakfast.
Seeing an 11-year-old boy doing so much for his siblings brought tears to Jim’s eyes. “Buddy, can I help you with something? Don’t you need to get ready for school too?”
“I can’t go today, Jim. Mom isn’t home yet, so I need to stay home. I am the big brother, and I have to be responsible.”
“But John….” Jim didn’t get to finish as the front door creaked open, and Sarah entered. She looked exhausted, her clothes dirty and ragged, and her hair messy.
Jim was furious. “We need to talk, Sarah. Just a minute, kids. I’ll be right back….”
When Jim and Sarah reached the living room, Jim lost his cool. “What’s wrong with you, Sarah?” he asked firmly, trying to hide the anger in his voice. “Is this the time to come home? And you left your children alone? Since when has this been happening?”
Sarah sank to the living room couch and buried her face in her hands. “I’m tired too, Jim, but….” Her voice started to crack. “I – I don’t know what to do. I can’t work during the day because I don’t have anyone to look after my baby. I’m taking extra shifts at night at the bar because I need to provide for my children. And a week ago, I started to work at a garbage recycling plant.
“I had some extra work today, that’s why I got home an hour late. I’m ashamed to tell my children about the plant thing, so they don’t know. Do you think they’ll like it when they find out their mother sorts trash? My husband stopped paying for child support, Jim, and he just disappeared. What am I supposed to do? I feel like everything is going south! Everything around me is crumbling….
“And John has been so helpful. I wouldn’t have been able to manage any of it without his help. I’m happy that I have him. God sent me such a son because he took away a wretched husband…I am glad to have John by my side,” she said.
“But you don’t realize it’s robbing him of his childhood, Sarah. Take a look at him! He’s carrying a burden an 11-year-old shouldn’t!”
Jim understandably felt terrible for Sarah and her children, and he knew he had to do something to help them. Before leaving their house that day, he saluted John and said, “You’re a hero, young man! I am so proud of you!”
John smiled and saluted him back. “Thanks, Jim! You’re too cool!”
From that day on, Jim started helping Sarah around the house whenever and in whatever way he could. With time, they became good friends, and when Sarah noticed how good Jim was with her kids, she eventually cultivated feelings for him.
Likewise, Jim developed strong feelings for Sarah. And one day, while he was out having dinner with Sarah and her kids, he proposed to her.
“Are you sure?” Sarah couldn’t believe something good was happening in her life. “I – I mean—”
“Come on, mom! Say yes! I want Jim as a dad!” John interjected.
“Yes, mommy! I love Jim too!” Kathy chriped, and Jim smiled. “Of course, I am sure, Sarah. Will you marry me, Sarah?” he asked again.
For her and her children’s happiness, Sarah nodded yes, and a few months down the line, Sarah and Jim got married. They became a loving family, and John no longer needed to compromise his childhood to care for his siblings.
What can we learn from this story?
The Lord drives the bad people away to bring us closer to the good ones. While Sarah’s previous marriage was a disaster, she was blessed with a son like John, who loved her and deeply cared about his siblings. Later, God also sent Jim into her life, who not only accepted her but her children.
Every child deserves to have a wholesome and burden-free childhood. John’s childhood was getting snatched from him because of the responsibilities he took on his tiny shoulders. Thankfully, things got much better when Jim stepped in, and the little kid no longer had to compromise his happiness.