Paradise and Parenting: A Parent in Times of Crisis

Right now my daughter is downstairs having a birthday sleepover with her three best friends. On the one hand, it’s music to my ears, because she truly comes alive with those three girls she’s known since nursery school. All the attitude, the silliness, the eye-rolling we are privileged to witness on a daily basis finally has context in the company of these dramatic, vivacious, LOUD, beautiful pre-teen females.

On the other hand, I’m just dead-tired and beginning to question my very sanity. But I figure I am like most parents throughout history who want their kids to be happy and thus suffer a million inconveniences for their sake.

Since I am not sleeping anyway (Twilight: the movie, volume way up, with squealing intervals when Edward and Bella show physical affection of any kind), I begin to think about this idea: Most of us suffer a million inconveniences for our children. We drive hundreds of miles for lessons and school and friends. We plan parties and fold laundry. We slog through the grocery store at 9pm because we forgot to buy Valentine’s Day for the party tomorrow.

But do we know, really know, what it means to suffer for them? Do we know what it’s like to leave our homes in the dead of the night, hearts pounding, our kids’ faces muffled to our chests so no one will hear their frightened questions? Do we know what it’s like to just run, not knowing to where, not knowing to whom, but just running for our very lives? Do we have any idea of what it’s like to hold the lives of our children in our hands and make a split-second decision that could lead to their deaths?

The closest I’ve ever come to this kind of horror was when Hurricane Patricia passed by our little bay in the fall of 2015. Some people were being evacuated and other people were evacuating themselves, because we were told it was going to be bad. Like, the worst. We had a small window in which to decide if we were leaving or were going to stick it out at home.

Several friends of ours took to the highways and spent most of the storm in their cars in nose-to-nose traffic. Others were taken to shelters and rode it out with hundreds of frightened families. We weighed all the odds and stayed at home, Gil and I doing some serious praying and deep-breathing exercises.

Fortunately, the storm fizzled out over the mountains and we were just fine. But I learned a few things that during that awful day and I hope I never un-learn them. I know what it’s like to watch over my children and wonder if they would wake up the next day with a roof over their heads. I know what it’s like to realize you may need to run with no real destination. I know what it’s like to have your child ask you if it’s going to be ok, and you really aren’t sure.

I am not great at the art of debate. I, like most classic introverts, need a bit of time to think, and then come up with a great viewpoint about three hours later. No one has time for that. But, for me, I don’t think it’s about debate or politics. It’s about children, and it’s about parents’ fear and desperation.

If you can put yourself in a mother’s shoes, and spend a minute feeling her fear for her child, then there is no debate. There are only hands reaching out to help. There is only compassion and kindness.

You can help by supporting groups that help families in real refugee crisis situations and make sure they are represented properly. You can volunteer in your own community and help families in need where you are. Anything that promotes a better world for our children is exactly what you can do.