A lot of things have changed for me since I became a parent. Sure there are the obvious things – how I spend my time, where I spend my money and my definition of what is truly important in life. Although you’re never fully prepared for this stuff when you have a baby, you definitely expect it. These are the things people tell you about. You’ll get less sleep. You’ll turn into a chauffeur. You can’t even imagine how you can possibly love something so much.
What I wasn’t prepared for, and what hits me more than I would ever have imagined, is my personal response to things going on around the world. Headlines. News stories. Illness. War. Court cases. Anytime I hear about something or read something that has to do with a child, I actually feel a physical response in my body. Part of it is my personality. I’ve always been a person who digests things from the perspective of the person who is actually going through something. Until I became a parent, I just didn’t have the knowledge or understanding of how to put myself in a Mom’s shoes. Now that I am a Mom, it’s just too easy to slide myself into another Mom’s shoes and feel joy or pain depending on the situation.
This became clear to me last week as I digested the news from around the world. Four beautiful young Palestinian boys killed by an Israeli strike while they played on a beach. A Dad who allegedly left his toddler to die in a hot car all day on purpose. A malnourished seven-year-old boy found in a US home who weighed only 25 pounds. I hear these things and I get mad. It’s a put-your-head-in-your-hands and wonder “how could they” kind of anger.
What really gets me deep in my core is when I hear of things happening with kids who are similar ages and genders to my own kids. Last week, as an example, I was brought to tears by the story of seven-year-old Georgia Walsh from Toronto (who was the same age as our oldest daughter). If what I’ve read is true, she was walking home from camp for one of the first times on her own and was hit and killed while crossing a street. My heart aches for her parents. How many times do I get into these conversations with our daughter now about extending her freedom. I can hear the conversation in our house now. “Can I please please please walk home by myself?” You’ve got to let them do these things and slowly learn to navigate the world on their own. With that being said, I can only imagine the questions and thoughts that would be going through my head if something happened while extending that freedom. My heart just breaks for that family.
Then something like last week’s Malaysian Air crash happens and we all feel for the victims, their families and wonder how tragedy like that is even possible. I think of the incredible experiences I had backpacking on the other side of the world and wonder what the next 15 years are going to bring. Will the world be safe enough for our kids to have those same kinds of experiences if they want? Will they grow up hearing about conflict and danger and not even be interested in exploring other countries and cultures? Could all of the negativity around the world actually narrow the dreams and aspirations our kids might have?
Of course there is also much kindness and joy to be felt when you see kids accomplishing things and people going out of their way to help children in need. I cry happy tears with every video I watch of soldiers coming home and surprising their kids. For every one thing that brings anger and sadness, there are five more that demonstrate the pure love in the world.
All of that to further confirm that parenting is an emotional roller coaster. I never would have thought that other people’s kids, stories and world events would have such a magnified impact on me when I was blessed to become a Mom.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller