Here is the thing. A scary, but honest thing: I can not keep you safe from life. Life is a place where both good and bad things happen.
Everyday. Every single day. I worry about this. About which of the many bad things will happen to you.
Some will be a choice. You could cross the street without looking both ways. Drink too much and try to drive home. Overdose because you decided to try drugs and find you just can not stop. You may decide to take something that does not belong to you. Instead of trying and accepting you might fail– you could choose to cheat. You may love someone who, at the end of the day, is not right for you. You could choose to stay with them and live a half life. You could choose to leave them and start over. Each and every time you make a decision in life there will be consequences. Some of the best things in your life will come of it… and sadly, some of the worst.
Some will not be entirely in your control. There are natural disasters that could impact you… hurricane, tornado, flood. Some disease-I-won’t-be-able-to-pronounce might riddle your body. Your genetic make up might lead to a struggle with mental illness. Mauled by an animal. (Listen, shark attacks happen. We’ll watch Jaws together one day.) Sucked away in a rip tide. Honestly, I can keep going, but I think you get the point.
Sometimes you will be victimized. You’ll be an unfortunate part of someone else’s decisions. A victim of credit card fraud or identity theft. Someone will demean you and call you a names. It might be posted on social media. You could be mugged. Kidnapped. Stabbed. Shot. Raped. Blown up.
You could get away from me for a split second and climb into a Gorilla enclosure at the zoo. You could go wading on vacation and be snatched away by an alligator. You could decide to go swimming without a grownup and drown alone in a pool. You could grow up on me and die in a club in Orlando dancing with your friends because someone decided it was a good place to have a mass shooting.
This list is endless girls. I can go on and on with pages of worrisome things. All because bad things can happen to good people. Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes life is terribly frightening and sad.
I, like all of us, worry every day about which of these things will find you in life. About this world I brought you into. Did I do a terrible thing by bringing you into such a volatile and ever changing place?
I sit with my friends and we ask: What do we do? How did we get here? How do we fix this?
I don’t know. There is inherent brokenness in this world. But when you don’t know the whole answer to something, the best thing to do it to start with what you do know:
- I will love you through all of it. Whether I’m around to see it or not– my love for you is infallible. You will not understand the depths of it until you become a parent.
- You have the power to make good choices. It is a mighty gift. Don’t neglect it.
- You don’t have to believe anyone else’s definition of your story. People will assign you adjectives (nice girl, total bitch, scatterbrain, lesbian, slut, pushover). You might be those things… but that’s not all of you. Don’t get hung up on labels. Just like you will change and grow through life– so will all the tiny boxes other people try to stick you in.
- Do your best. That will be different each time it is asked of you. You can’t do more than that.
- Solve one problem at a time. One minute at a time. Eventually enough solutions and time will pass and you’ll be out of the weeds.
- There is something bigger than us in life. Some call it God or Spirit. There are so many lives busy living in this world these days… it is hard to find it in the din. But there is something there. You will have to find the place where you feel it. It may be church, a mosque or a temple. It may be sitting in the trees. You might meditate and hear a voice that speaks to you. You might have the sight to see a world beyond this one. Whatever we put out in the world, it builds on. Put out your very best, be the good, share your love, whisper it your deepest wish… and the universe will answer. Not always immediately or in the way you think… but it answers. When you realize it, you’ll be humbled and amazed.
- Human rights are universal. Some of us are still fighting for this very basic thing. But your gender, who you love, your skin color, where you find God… those are the things that make us interesting and diverse. Not what determines your legal rights or value as a person.
- You can disagree, you can have enemies, you can fight for things you believe in, but darlings, you have to afford the same privilege to those on the other side of the fence. Listening to those views that you oppose will result in either understanding or further conviction.
- Both good and bad things will happen in life. Each is an opportunity. Learn from it all.
These are the few things I think are true. If we start with the basics and keep moving forward, we’ll end up somewhere. Because I don’t know the answer to that question:
What do we do?
Are we too politically correct? Not enough? Do we need stricter gun laws? More gun education? How much value is there to “saying it it like it is”? Diplomacy? Getting back to nature? Limiting screen time? Examining the media? Revealing government corruption? How do I stop you from picking up a gun and deciding to shoot another human? How do I protect you from someone else who does that very thing?
I don’t know the answer girls. I’m working on it. Most of the moms I know are. You’re too little to know it, but I don’t lose myself in the movie theater anymore. I’m looking at the people we share that space with and where the exits are. I want you see the fireworks this 4th of July, but I’m scared to have you congregate in such a public, open place where everyone will be an easy target. I am sad and angry that you have shelter in place drills in your elementary school. That you hide beneath your teacher’s desk and barricade your classroom door. I see you watching the news with me in the morning… wondering why there are so many terrible things on it. I often find a way to answer your questions, but that one has me at a lost.
So, I’ll start with what I know. We can’t stop living. We can hope for the best. We can do what we can to make the world a safer, nicer, kinder place. We can love. We can hope. (It is worth saying hope twice.) We can be these these things the world needs. We can whisper these good things to the universe… and see if we can heard above the din of everyday living.