It is midnight when I stumble into your room, your pitiful cries of “mommy, I need a rock you,” call to me from the crib you still sleep in at two years old. Within seconds of reaching for you, it becomes glaringly clear that all thirty pounds of you is aflame. I confirm the fever, give you a dose of Motrin, then sit, at your request in “da chair,” and rock you. It is two in the morning. My alarm will go off in just three paltry hours, but rocking your almost-too-big-sick-toddler-self is exactly where I want to be.
My sweet girl, the world has turned so ugly lately. The kind of awfulness that makes me question why anyone would want to bring life into this one. And yet you’re here because I wanted you, and because despite the madness occurring, I still believe there’s good. Your lily-white existence knows nothing about the atrocities happening everywhere, the mothers and fathers, the daughters and sons being gunned down with reckless abandon in the name of something I will never understand. There are children clinging to their mothers’ breasts as they cross wide deep chasms of black-watered oceans in hopes of a better life. Some make it. Many don’t. You are too young to understand the finality in death, so much so that when we’re watching The NeverEnding Story and you ask about the horse that disappears in the Swamps of Sadness, my milquetoast response is simply that Atreyu is sad because Artax, his horse, swam away.
But he didn’t.
He drowned, quite literally, because of his own sadness.
Your only concept of injustice is not getting the fruit snacks you demand, or being told it’s time for a bath. I love that you have no idea what hatred lies in the hearts of some. If I could shield you from it all, forever, I would. Knowing that someday you may become disheartened after hearing something terrible on the news, or reading some feed on whatever page of social media you’re trolling – makes me want to shake the collective world and scream, what’s wrong? You believe the Sun is a being with a soul who “goes to fweep” at night, and we’ve named the moon, “Josephine.” You have no idea that you exist in a world alongside murderers and thieves, liars and rapists – people whose only mission it is to ruin the lives of others.
When I read about the Aylan Kurdi’s of the world, and the mass shootings that headline far too many a news report, when my eyes fill uncontrollably with the tears that I will cry because I am a mother and I am changed forever, because I know these arms that hold you now will only reach so far, I will think of something I heard once quoted from Fred Rogers:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in
the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for
the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.
I hope it is a long day from this one, but when you’re old enough to know that innocent people die when they shouldn’t, that lives are overturned in the chaos of nameless wars – I will tell you, my love, to find the good and those helpers, and if you’re up for it, to be that good.