It’s often said that admitting you’re having a problem is the first step toward progress. Toward a solution. Toward improvement to some degree. Any degree. Well, this is me sending my turmoil out into the vast universe with the hope it leads to some sort of resolution. Here goes … As a parent, I am struggling. This particular struggle embarrasses the nightly bedtime battle and laughs at the ongoing eat your vegetables saga. This is a struggle that quickens my heart, squeezes my stomach and steals my sleep. It is an epic struggle with the current social climate we live in and all of the unexplainable, ugly, terrifying, shocking, appalling, selfish, ruthless things happening down the street, a few states away and across the ocean.
I can break my conflict down into more specific examples, if that’s helpful. Specifically,
I struggle to teach faith when the news is saturated with needless, brutal tragedy and heartbreaking bloodshed.
I struggle to teach humility when our potential world leaders make being crass and egocentric a sport.
I struggle to teach strength when we’re so often brought to our knees.
I struggle to teach grace when goodwill and common decency are so often disregarded.
I struggle to teach character when it seems to be lacking in every should-be hero with a platform.
I struggle to teach patience when the pace of this life promises to leave the weak behind.
I struggle to teach respect when there is such blatant indifference regarding human life.
I struggle to teach kindness when so many take without apology or cause.
I struggle to teach empathy when I can’t comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy.
I struggle to teach peace when there doesn’t seem to be any left.
I’m scared for my loved ones, myself and my neighbors. I’m terrified that things will get worse or never get any better. I look into my daughters’ innocent, starry eyes and pray for their vision to stay just as it is – sparkly and playful and hopeful. I pray that one day they won’t have to look for exits and scrutinize strangers. That they won’t have to mourn for lives lost in fits of misplaced hatred and sent to heaven in groups of 10, 20 or 50. That strange noises won’t shake them. That they will feel safe. That they will sleep.
It’s challenging in normal circumstances to guide these little souls to soldier on and become capable, confident carriers of change. But it’s damn near impossible when your own soul is drowning in anxiety. I can’t answer their questions because there is no tolerable explanation. I can’t promise it will never touch us, because how can such a heavy burden of sorrow and fear not be felt by everyone?
So, there it is. My struggle. It is suffocating and saddening and slowly encroaching on parts of my heart that once soared with optimism. But I know it’s not my struggle alone.
I have to keep putting on my armor and showing up. For them. I have to find words that soften a world full of jagged, cutting edges. I have to empower their spirit rather than clip their wings with stories and scenes observed through the disturbing lens we grownups are forced to wear. A lens dirtied with unfathomable accusations, cruel labels and nauseating acts. I can only pray that when I take my babies in to comfort them from their nightmares, they don’t feel the perspiration on my shirt from my own terrors.
The hardest struggles are the ones you feel like you can’t win, and maybe that’s why this is all bothering me so much. Because I feel defeated. But I suppose one could argue that the hardest struggles are the ones that make you stronger in the end. I just hope my armor holds up.