Reflection: Being a Parent in a World that Frightens You

No where seems safe. Not a marathon. Not the movies. Not the middle of math class. Yet, as parents, we release our children out into the world every day.

I know a world that’s wonderful, a world I want my sons to know, but that world is changing. How do we protect our kids from a world that scares us?

Twice last week — before today’s news, before a student said, “Ms. Lauer, there was an explosion at the Boston Marathon,” before I grabbed my phone to see if my friends who were there had texted — I stopped.

I stopped pushing ahead in the rat race of the every day — and looked in front of me, looked next to me — and who was there? Noah.

And then I cried.

Because isn’t that what always happens a few days or weeks after something like this happens, we move on. Not because we forget, but because we have to. There are bills to pay and dishes to wash and birthday parties to attend. We move on for our children. For any children. For the future of this country and the world.

If we don’t move on, if we don’t release them into the world, how will they discover its beauty? How will they fall in love?

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Under the dream light of stars, after three books, I pull you in closer.

I say, “I love you. I love you so much. More than anything, I love you.”

Noah says, “I love you” back, my salty tears against his soft cheek.

I stop. I stop to soak in the love. I think about Noah under a sky of real stars one day, camping with a lover. I think of another face next to his, this close. This. Kills. Me.

I want my son, my sons, to fall in love, I do, but right now, I just want to hold them so tight that they never leave me.

When I stop to soak in the love I feel for them and they feel for me, I cry. I cry because it’s the best love. Better than anything I ever imagined.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t stop as often as I should. Because if I stop to soak it in, I cry. I need to stop. Because time is moving so fast.

I cannot be afraid. I do not want them to be afraid of the world. How can we change the things we cannot control?

How to love them and protect them at the same time? How to hold them close and let them go? That August day when my mother drove me to Iowa City through tears — I understand now, Mom. I understand your love for me. How you wanted to hold me close but knew it was time to let me go, to discover the world by myself.

That was the best gift. My independence.

And, one day, I must give Noah and AJ the same gift.

I will not live in fear. I will not raise them in fear. How do I do this when I am so afraid?

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13 thoughts on “Reflection: Being a Parent in a World that Frightens You

  1. I wonder how much of our fear comes from the time we live in, and how much comes from being a parent. I spin a day like today backward 40 years and imagine my parents asking how they can raise a child in a world where teens are drafted against their will to die in Vietnam, a world where their president is a criminal who strips the country of its moral spine, a world where the most peace-driven singer in the Western world is gunned down by a crazy man trying to impress a movie star.

    I guess what I’m asking is, are things really worse now? Or has parenthood driven us to look at the dark instead of the light, with an assist from media connectivity. The crimes in Colorado and Connecticut are unspeakable, but so was James Huberty killing 21 and injuring another 19 in 1984 in California. It was pre-Internet, so really, did it even happen?

    Being a parent is fucking terrifying, every day. Annie swallowed part of a Lifesaver whole last month. She was fine, never even choked, but it kept me up at night for a few days thinking of how much worse it could have been. Being a parent is fucking terrifying, even more so on days like this.

    Great post, Evelyn.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Dave. I think you’re right — and I’m sure my mom would agree with you. AJ fell out of his high chair this weekend; he was fine but you always worry for the worst. I remember being afraid of razor blades in Halloween candy one year. It’s so hard as a parent now because you don’t want your kids to be afraid, but how can they not be, when you are, you know? Thanks so much for reading.

  2. I seriously have to stop reading your posts. They make me cry all the time. 🙂 I’ve said before that I am way too emotional to be a mom. I cry at everything these days! I watched some cell phone commercial tonight where a mom is recapping her son’s life from birth to adulthood and I just started crying. I feel so much when it comes to Matthew, both pleasure and pain that he would know nothing about, so it’s ridiculous, really. I just feel like you do…I never want to let him go and I don’t want him to grow up and away from me. (Though I also want him to) You have a wonderful way with words…I guess that’s why you teach English…or Humanities. 🙂

    • Thanks, as always, for reading, Lynne. Yes, Humanities, ha! It’s easy to cry when we think of our kids. I have a hard time being strong in front of them. I cry in front of Noah a lot.

  3. This is a very touching post. I am not yet a parent but i can get the picture of what you want to say. I pray that you and your family are always safe. What happened in Boston was really terrifying especially to you parents knowing that a boy who was only trying to help had died. But as you said we cannot change something not in our control. But let’s keep on hoping and believing that things will be better in the future. 🙂

  4. Thank you for reminding me to take time to stop. To push aside all the bs minutiae that consumes my mind and just bask in the love of my kids. Thank you for inspiring me to write again, to try to capture these special moments. Because yes, Someday we will not be able to hold them. i will never forget what my dentist told me recently when I was complaining about the stress of being a parent, he said, “at least now they sleep under your roof. Just wait until they are not. Then the real stress begins. “

  5. This post struck a chord in me. I guess it helped me understand a little why my parents refuse to let me dorm. I just hope they come to the same realization about needing to let me go someday and giving me that gift of independence.

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