What I Leave Them With

I read this post today on Facebook.   It was titled 2 Rules About Children.

  1.  Do not ask them to deal with adult issues.
  2. Do not burden them with situations they cannot control.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I worried about miscarriages.  Once I was past that stage, I worried about any health issues with my child.  I worried about whether I would really be capable of raising a child.   I’ve never been a totally selfless person, so I worried about whether my child would steal my thunder.  Yes!  I did selfishly worry about that and I know I’m not the only one.   I worried that I would take a backseat to my child and his well being and could I do that?   Could I totally forgo my dreams, aspirations, and physical well being, for my child?

After Davey was born, I worried about if I would remember to clean his where he was circumcised correctly.   Would I bathe him appropriately?  Then of course, there was the worry that I wasn’t providing enough breast milk when he wasn’t immediately gaining weight.  I cried.  I sobbed uncontrollably in the doctor’s office, whined about being a failure to my child.   I was terrified, truly terrified that perhaps I didn’t have what it took to raise a child.

Some nights I would get up and sneak into his room just to make sure he was still breathing.  Other nights, when exhaustion seemed to have my body immovably shackled, I let him cry it out at night.   I would wake up the next morning, log onto my social media account and read about the pros and cons to letting your child cry it out.   I would then be wounded with more emotional guilt for not being the caring parent that people claimed I should be.   “How heartless can you be,” some would say when I would comment that I’d let Davey cry it out.  Some days that criticism would sting, other days I would reply back “suck it!”

As a parent we worry about so much, it comes with the territory.  Your child is your heart, he is a part of you.   My life revolves around my role as a mom to my two boys, to protect and nurture them, but to also teach them and let them grow.   All of the things I used to worry about, though seem really small when I look at what’s going on in the world today and what type of world my children will grow up in, and their children, and so on.

We limit the amount of news the boys see and my husband and I try to hold off on our discussions of current events and politics until after the boys have gone to bed.   Our discussions can get heated even though we’re both on the same side and I worry (there’s that word again) that the boys will feed off of those discussions in a negative way.  The world they are growing up in is drastically different from the one in which I grew up.

Over the past week, we’ve been inundated with so much anger and hatred, so much hurt and violence, so much pain and agony.   It hurts my heart while also hardening it and adds a whole new spectrum of worry that I never thought would enter my stratosphere.   I find myself asking these questions over and over, “what kind of world am I leaving my boys with ?  What sort of legacy will I leave them with?  What levels of pain and suffering will they be forced to endure?”

Then I’m faced with another issue…how do I talk to my children about what’s going on in our country?   How do I talk to them about the importance of civil disobedience in a democratic society while also enforcing the importance of respect?   How do I talk to them about the fact that 5 police officers were murdered for just protecting a peaceful protest?  They’re 2 & 4, so we keep them insulated, they’re kids and shouldn’t be forced to deal with the burdens of the world so soon, but should something happen to me or even when I get old and die, how my children deal with the complexities of society worries me.   Have I taught them enough?  Surely I’m not the only parent with this thought.

So now my worry has gone from small things like, did he remember to brush his teeth, to a much larger scale of what sort of life will they have in a world becoming so full of hate.   I’ve done my best to instill in my boys the importance of Christ in their lives, respect for people in general, empathy and understanding for people less fortunate than them.   We tackled one hurdle this year when one of our police officers lost his life at the hands of a youth whom he’d tried to mentor.  The thought that crosses my mind is the same that crosses that of a 4 year old, “well if he was trying to a friend and help the boy, mom, then why did the boy shoot him?  He was a police officer.  That’s wrong.”  Those were the words from my child’s mouth.  How do you explain the evil in this world to a 4 year old without scaring him senseless?   My husband and I did that, we believe, to the best of our abilities, but still it’s a constant field of landmines with each piece of news that comes out.   We pick and choose what to tell them.   “Yes, baby, there are bad people in this world and they do win sometimes.”   Then there are the days when you find yourself sitting in the bathroom crying because your children were unknowingly playing with the children of the slain officer while at the neighborhood pool.   Your heart breaks with uncontrollable levels of sadness because you know these boys will have to grow up without their father.   Then your crying becomes that of guilt because you and your boys give to live so freely, and then to a cry of happiness that you don’t have to go through that grief.   I hide this from my boys.  I’d love to hide it from them forever, stuff all of this insensitivity, killing, and ignorance in a lock box (to quote the words of Al Gore in a debate with George W. Bush), but I can’t.   All I can do is love my babies, teach them the word of God, and hold them.

This world becomes scarier and scarier every day and thanks to social media, everything gets magnified.   People seem to enjoy seeing the bad and shun the good.   Media outlets fight each other for the most spectacular stories.   Evil sells faster than good.   It’s a fact of the world we live in and it’s my job to make sure that my children still have a childhood, still have the ability to accomplish their dreams, and to be a PARENT.   None of this can stop because of the worry and paranoia of today’s world, but the worry and paranoia still creep in.

As a parent, I want my children to have more than I ever did.   I want them to accomplish more.  I want them to be happy, to have every opportunity, and to have a life.

When I say my prayers, I first ask the Lord to forgive me of my sins, those I know I committed and those I unknowingly commit.  I thank Him for my family, everything I’m not entitled to because I am a sinner,  and then I pray that he helps the world to find Him again.   I suppose that’s the best I can do as a parent.

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