When I was a little girl, even before my mother got sick, I remember being terrified of losing her and my dad. I can vividly remember lying in bed, trying to fall asleep (I’ve always been a terrible sleeper) and imagining her dying, or my daddy not being there anymore. I would get so worked up that I would start crying and, even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed, I would go downstairs to find them just to make sure they were still there. Empathy is something that is waning and lacking in our modern day where we know so much about everywhere and everything and we can only care to a certain point. When I was little and we lived in Thailand, I can remember crying (I cried all the time) when I saw beggars and starving people on the streets of Bangkok and Chiangmai. Things are better now, of course, but this was in the 90’s, and the country was not as modern and advanced as it is now. I have always had a lot of feelings which is probably why I like writing so much. But sometimes that excess of feeling can weigh heavy.
It seems like we are surrounded, all the time, by darkness. By shootings, hate crimes, terror, racism, pointless cruelty, tragic accidents– the list goes on. Its right there to see- on our phones, every night. On the news shows that I listen to (pompously, which is the only way to listen to NPR obviously.) All around us– constantly. I catch myself worrying about things like how many people are reading my blog, or how many likes I get on a photo on instagram and when I take a step back, I realize how ridiculous this is. How little it matters.
There are times that I find myself panicking about losing Redmond. I hear about tragedies involving children, and it hits me like it never hit me before. I hear about children getting cancer, and I cannot fathom what it would be like as a parent. It feels wrong, evil, cruel to lose a child. To bury the life you brought into this world. I hear about children starving to death, and I think about how we spend so much time trying to lose weight as Americans, because we have an excess of food. We have too much. And other families have nothing. It’s overwhelming. Just writing this is overwhelming. And I feel like there is so little that I can do.
But when I look into my son’s wide, blue eyes, I feel a sense of hope. My child is the next generation. The world that I have brought him into is broken, fragmented, cracked. But there is so much good in it as well. I want to believe that my generation will make a difference. And that we, as parents, will bring empathy back to our children. That we will teach them to be kind, to love others, to be thoughtful, to be respectful. That I will show Redmond how to have self control, how to be obedient when necessary, and to have a proud independence as well. To put other people before himself. To respect women, and those older than him, and his mother (since I am both, thank you very much).
This past week, my sister and I had a little birthday picnic to celebrate her turning 24. My sister is one of my best friends, and our little ones love each other so much. We celebrated with cake, strawberries, and One Hope Brut. I love that the company was founded by millennials, and that they began with the goal of having a measurable impact on the world. We received the Glitter Bottle Giftpack, and its purchase provides 45 meals to children in need. They work with a dozen different charities, and I love feeling like I’m doing something for others while I sip and celebrate.
My floral crown (which I was so excited to have an opportunity to wear) also is from a Hopeful company– Headbands of Hope— and for every headband sold, one is provided to a child with cancer. Which makes me feel all emotional just thinking about it.
My sister and I laughed, talked, and wrangled our children in the backyard over glasses of sparkling wine. Aurelia snuck a piece of lemon cake to Redmond, and I caught him jamming it into his mouth while he squeezed strawberry juice all over himself. We watched our little ones play and interact and love on each other, and I felt like, really, there is hope for our world. And the hope comes from ourselves, and each other, and our children. I pray over Redmond every night when I put him to bed that he will be good and kind and always know how deeply he is loved. He makes me a better person. And I hope I can raise him to make a difference, however small.