This has been a hard week to be human. Hell, it's been a hard year, or two. Or three. Or, well, always. Lately, it seems like a week can't go by without feeling horrified by something on the news. I've always been profoundly affected by the awful events that continue happening in the world, but I have to say that the news is harder to watch once you have kids. Or, at least, it is for me.
Days like yesterday make me wonder what kind of world I'm raising my children to live in. Whether it's the Pulse shooting, or the senseless shootings of unarmed black men or a planned, violent attack on law enforcement or, god help us, another Sandy Hook, it is absolutely terrifying to turn on the news. I actually have friends who go on regular news "vacations," so that they can remember what it's like to just enjoy having kids and being a parent without constantly worrying what world you'll eventually leave your kids with.
I know we can't bury our heads in the sand, especially as parents who have not only a responsibility, but an obligation to be informed. I know that simply turning off the news and ignoring wha tis going on in the world is a privilege not afforded to all; The news is someone's backyard; Someone's community; Someone's constant state of being; Someone's inescapable reality. I know that every single tragedy that occurs can be part of a larger set of lessons that all good parents should be teaching their kids. We need to love people, we need to recognize that every single human life is worth saving, worth fighting for and worth valuing. Still, every single time I sit down to watch the news I find it more and more upsetting, and the moment I start to envision my child in a similar situation and imagine how I would react as a parent who has lost their child, a knife twists into my gut.
Here are seven reasons why having a kid makes it harder to watch the news.
Every Child You Hear About Who's Died Is Now Your Child
I don't know a single mother who hasn't shed a tear over a piece of news relating to a child's death. I still feel sick to my stomach when I think of the photo of that little Syrian boy who washed up on the beach in Turkey, or the video of young Tamir Rice being gunned down while playing in the park. Your child's body or face will flash in place of whatever child is pictured, and you will be destroyed.
You're Overwhelmed With Fear That Your Kid Will Be Shot. Because It Seems Like So Many Children Are Being Shot These Days.
Sorry, what? Another mass shooting? Was this one in a movie theatre or a school? Or was someone else shot down by police for an undetermined-yet-not-criminally-responsible reason? I won't bother with a current statistic on gun-related deaths, because by the time you read this, it will have increased.
You're Afraid To Send Your Kid Into A World That's So Filled With Hate
I am virtually without words on this topic, especially after recent events. I will say, though, that what worries me most is that my children may have to listen to some child being raised by ignorant or hateful parents, spewing hate and lies at school. I guess that is just part of growing up, and all I can do is arm them with the truth.
You Wonder If There Will Be A World Left, By The Time Your Kid Grows Up
Will the next president sworn in be a climate change denier? Will there be another endless war waged? Will homegrown terrorism and an over-defended second amendment wreak havoc on the continent? And will any of us be around to witness it all?
The World Doesn't Feel Safe Enough For Your Kid To Live In
How do you deal with the crippling anxiety, knowing all of the terrible things happening in the world? How can anyone send their kid out there, when it feels as though the likelihood of these things happening to them is so much higher, especially when you become aware of it.
Every Mother You See Grieving Is Now You
Every time I see a mom on the news sobbing over the loss of their child and pleading for justice and peace, whether they're young or an adult, I am right there with her, sobbing too. Becoming a mother has expanded my empathy in a way I didn't expect it to. I am every mother, and my heart shatters when we lose one of ours.
You Shudder Knowing Your Child's Innocence Will Be Ripped Away One Day By What You See
One day, your child will experience hate, or destruction, on a level that will break a tiny, beautiful part of them forever. Innocence will disappear in that moment, and while it is inevitable, watching the news brings that fact so much closer than ever feels comfortable.
You're Exhausted, But You're Determined To Remain Hopeful
It is so difficult to continue to see the good in the world or to think that it will get better, and sometimes that difficulty manifests into a kind of exhaustion that seems to seep into your very bones. However, when I look at my children, I am reminded that I have to. I am tired and I am scared, but I cannot let my children see either. The news is difficult to watch and for so many people, it is difficult to simply live, but I have to believe that it will get better and I have to do things that will help make things better, because I am a mother and my children need me to.