Still Parenting on Days Like Today

A year ago, I wrote a post. It seemed to strike a chord with many, moms mostly, of course. It spilled out of me the morning after the election, as my mind was in overdrive and a million thoughts swirled around my head. I grabbed my husband and begged him to watch the kids for just a little longer. I hoped it would be therapeutic to attempt to get some of the chaos out of my head and onto the screen. After 20 minutes of furious typing (and *ahem* scant editing) I later posted what came out and attempted to go on with my day.

The emotions were still so raw and fresh. The previous night, November 8th (a date nearly as burned into my brain as September 11th), Tyson and I settled into the couch after putting the kids to bed, to watch what we believed would be a historic election. It was. Just not in the way we thought, as by 8:15 that evening Chuck Todd attempted to explain (and visibly come to terms with) the way the results were headed. My celebratory beer quickly turned into a coping mechanism. It wasn’t that a Republican was being elected (up until that point it hadn’t been about party to me), but that a man who boasted about grabbing pussy, used Twitter as a base to mock people, and built his campaign on constructing that God-forsaken wall was really and truly being elected to our highest office.

I’ve thought about that post a lot in the past year. Not because it’s a work of literary genius (*ahem* again, scant editing), but because this entire year has felt like “a day like today”. Each day, each week has been filled with its own new horrors.

The heaviness of Inauguration Day.
Blatant lies from day one. (Inauguration crowd size, anyone?)
The Women’s March.
Inexperienced government agency heads.
Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The first healthcare scare.
And the second.
And the third.
A march of actual Nazis.
A shooting.
The horror in NYC on Halloween.
Another shooting.
(Those last four all being acts of terror, I might add.)
Women standing together (too many) to proclaim “me too”.
The undying accusations of “fake news”.
A tax cut bill that is anything but.
New snippets, every morning in 140 characters, that prove this is anything but normal.

It’s too much to take in sometimes. That isn't even a comprehensive list. My thoughts become scattered as I ride the emotional roller coaster from anger to fear to grief to sadness and wake up to do it all over again. As Michelle Goldberg put it, “You can’t protest it all; you’d never do anything else”.

And I do need to do something else.

I have three very real children that need me to be present, engaged, and whole. I’m still called to love them above all. Still called to “play and protect and mother and snuggle and discipline”.

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The morning after the election, as Tyson and I walked through a fog of both sleep deprivation and disbelief, I made breakfast and got the kids ready for our parent-child class. I arrived at the school, somewhat stunned to see the sun shining and smiles on the teachers’ faces. Smiling was the last thing I wanted to do. “How are you?” I remember being asked. I didn’t know what to say. Nothing seemed sure anymore. I was in shock, quite honestly. Unsure of so much. What the hell had just happened? How I felt didn’t even seem to be a fair question anymore. I endured playtime and a group discussion on some sort of parenting topic or other and escaped home, still shook to the core.

I’ve come least a little ways since that day. Smiles don’t shock me quite so much anymore (erm...depending on the day). I’ve found a better rhythm to keep tabs on the news and also be present in my own home. I’m better able to focus my own anger and channel my emotions into thoughts that might result in an actual conversation, instead of a furious tirade.

The emotional component remains the most difficult part of parenting. There have admittedly been days in the past year when the TV has taken over parenting duties, while I sort out my thoughts on (yet another) issue.

I’ve been finding myself this year, despite, or maybe because, of the interruptions life with three small children brings. Much of the past 12-18 months has found my angsty teenage self rearing her head (probably because she never got a chance during those actual teenage years). I’ve been sorting through my emotions, anger and frustration chief among them. Letting myself feel those feelings, ride the wave, and see where they bring me.

They’ve brought me back to my children. Back to the basics. My guiding mantra the latter part of this year has been, “But what do I want them to hear?” and I go from there. I want them to hear that everyone is loved, everyone belongs, everyone matters to God. I want them to see that we talk to people, we interact with them, that we take care of their actual needs. I want them to hear that we show up, we stand up, and that every day we wake up to new mercies and new chances.

And I’ll keep going from there.