The world is not enough for me without you in it, M, and now that you are here, there's so much more to do and so much more at stake!
But what happens when the world is a mess. Who will clean it up?
|Hodler, Ferdinand. Mother and Child. Public Domain|
Although it's hard to say for certain, this time feels different. It's simply not enough to raise a good natured, empathetic human being - although this certainly helps. From climate change to nuclear war, the eradication of our natural resources and parks, the increased amplification of racism, sexism, and homophobia... somedays it's hard not to despair.
Am I alone out here?
|Corot, Camille. Hagar in the Wilderness. 1835. Metropolitan Museum of Art|
So what does a parent do in this age? I don't pretend to have the answer, but I keep asking myself this question. Everyone has their way to make sense of the world and make change. Everyone has a part and far, far too many are complacent or afraid or just plain distracted.
For me, it begins with writing. Words have power. A man or woman can literally fall to their knees when they hear the words "I love you" or its opposite. It can alter the course of his or her life.
The expectation to do more and be more, of course, has downsides. It's exhausting and endless. But I look at M, and I think how can I not? It's very similar to my writing. How can I not write? So out of the mess and the distractions and the despair that is our news cycle, I write to make sense and I hope to make some change from it too.
Do I set my standards too high? I would never tell my daughter to aim for less. But I'd also tell her it's ok to make a mess. Don't expect it to be perfect.
The writer Anne Lamott has said “it’s such a gift for someone to tell you the truth, and it’s such a gift for someone to create art with the mess and the chaos and the despair of life, to have turned it into a song, a poem, a novel. It’s the hugest gift we have to offer one another.”
If for nothing else, I leave her these small gifts.