The world has been very loud lately. I cringe when I look through my Facebook newsfeed. I skip through news channels quickly trying to avoid any haunting and scary images. I excuse myself from heated conversations and debates about politics, immigration, and war. I lie awake at night afraid. The recent terror attack in Paris, however, was not the first time (and I’m certain it will not be the last time) when I was forced to face the state of this world where I live and parent.
When my older children were younger I was the parent dropping off at daycare and I, of course, always took a few minutes to give each some attention, a kiss and a hug, and a “have a good day” before I rushed out to work. Because of a job switch I now leave for work before my children leave and my husband is responsible for getting the older children to school and our youngest to daycare. While I still always said “have a good day” or gave a kiss as I rushed passed a child on my way out the door I sometimes would miss one. Sometimes the baby would still be asleep when I left and I wouldn’t wake her. Often one would still be upstairs dressing or another would be shoveling breakfast into her mouth so I would yell my “goodbyes” as I rushed out.
My morning routine changed on December 14, 2012. As the details emerged of the terror unfolding in Newtown, all I could think, over and over, was “did I kiss the kids this morning?” I thought about those grief-stricken parents waiting desperately for news that their child was one of the lucky and I wondered, were they thinking the same thing? Did they kiss their kids that morning? Did their children, did those victims, start their day with some love? I thought about my children, looked at their beautiful pictures, and willed the clock to move faster so I could run out of work and be with them. I needed to see their faces, smell their hair, and hear their voices. I needed to give them each a kiss. Every morning since that horrific day I kiss each of my children before leaving for work. Sometimes I need to wait for one to finish brushing her teeth or I need to find one who is rummaging in the laundry for her favorite shirt. I may be late for work but I will not leave without my kisses. And every morning, every single morning, I think, “I hope they stay safe today”.
The nightmare of Sandy Hook and other school violence, the terror attacks around the world, the daily news stories filled with violence and gloom have all made parenting so very difficult. Parents send their children to school uncertain if they will truly be safe. People are killing innocent adults and children in the name of God. My country is marked by racial tension, political upheaval, and homegrown violence. I am a parent in a terrifying world.
As I’ve watched the people around me react to the more recent terror I’ve tried to remain judgement free. My opinions and thoughts may differ from those of some of my friends but I think everyone is simply trying to manage their fear in whatever way they can. Unfortunately, fear can make people angry. Anger can then turn to hate. With every comment I read on Facebook, news story I hear, or angry debate I observe I am becoming more and more determined to keep my fear at bay. I do not want to be angry and I do not want to hate. Children learn by example and I am my daughters’ most important role model.
So…I will be brave. I will be kind and compassionate to others, no matter what their race, creed, or culture. I will have faith that this world will change. I will have hope that my actions, and those of my brave, kind children, will be part of that change. I will kiss my children every morning and start each day with love. Love has to win.