I never thought I’d say this, but thank god for parenting! Sometimes, it can be a respite.
Regardless of where you stand on the Great Pumpkin President, these are some harrowing times. North Korea, neo-Nazis, Harvey Weinstein, geostorms (and also Geostorm). Things are fairly tumultuous.
We’re often told to not sweat the small stuff, but when the world serves as an enormous sauna, sometimes the small stuff is the only way to cool yourself down.
Most of the time, I use this space to guard against the dangers of getting so caught up in your kids that you lose sight of yourself, and of your adult life, and you become a kid-focused bore. But when the world is a trash fire (set to dra-ay-ay-eee-ay-ain), making sure your second grader does his homework and reads his books and gets a bath, and making sure your toddler learns to not poop himself and eats some dinner and doesn’t destroy the house might be just what the doctor ordered.
This isn’t to say that children are a distraction from your real life, but that distracting your children can be a welcome diversion from adult responsibilities and fears. Most of the time, the world is the world, and the terrible things that happen, while clearly terrible, are par for the course. Typical examples of the generic, predictable, inexorable venality of mankind. So it goes…
In those instances, when the world is turning the way it always has and always will, it’s easy to keep your blinders on and, perhaps selfishly, focus on your own lot. After all, parenting and its attendant responsibilities takes up a lot of your headspace whether you like it or not.
But when something huge bubbles up, say, a nuclear crisis, or an environmental crisis, or a healthcare crisis, or rampant racial and gender-based discrimination and victimization, or a painfully ignorant, dangerously incompetent, and willfully divisive president recklessly pokes at every possible bear – or serves as an outright representative of them! – it becomes much more difficult to ignore. And to escape.
When the stakes are this high, it becomes a lot harder to retreat into the bubble of your own lives. Especially when you have children, and outside forces are working to irrevocably alter and possibly puncture that bubble. Their bubble.
But those children can help. So long as you’re able to avoid breaking down into sobs every time you see their innocent faces because they force you to consider what ravaged country/world/future the implacable, corrupt monsters of the previous generation may be leaving for them, your kids can actually be a respite! Especially young kids, who aren’t yet woke enough to be aware of and grapple with the state of things.
It sounds crazy, especially coming from me, but hear me out!
This isn’t to say we should put our heads down and ignore what’s happening. No, we should continue to resist, and speak out, and contact our political representatives, and watch the NRA’s TV shows that teach us – IN SLOW MOTION – how to be action heroes in real life because that’s a clear-headed solution that won’t make things worse.
No, stay woke, and #resist, and fight back. But live your life too! And instead of letting the daily dread infect you and overwhelm your parenting, instead of letting your fears for your kids and your anxiety over their/the future weigh you down, indulge in their innocence. Instead of letting it add to your stress, let it be a respite. Get on the floor and play with them. Let their obliviousness to the adult world color your perspective or, at the very least, use it to recharge your own batteries!
Lean on your children for the occasional distraction and also to remind yourself of what’s at stake. Kids can be a drag (duh), but they can also lift some of the weight off of your shoulders.
If you let them.