When the shadows win and the newsfeed is grim and despondence seems a decent option, I steep myself a cup of tea and sit down to comfort my heart.
I stop that fear in it’s tracks with a cold hard evaluating stare as I swirl the milk.
And I question it until it loses it’s power to harm me.
Like fog, it dissipates in the beam of bright hot spotlights.
And then I can see clearly again.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
When I became a mom, I changed the way I handled my fears.
Not the worries, the deep-down gut-twisting life-altering ones.
They were no longer allowed to be in charge and certainly not allowed to make my decisions.
Pre-kids: giant hairy spider in house = burn down house, move states.
Post-kids: giant hairy spider in house = find Thor’s hammer and hunt to the death.
I have come to realize that my own heart is just as worth protecting as my children from things that go bump in the night.
And I don’t sit around entertaining fears. I annihilate them if I can.
And I’m practical enough – down into my DNA I suppose – to see the way to the light and try to turn it on.
There is a distinct method to my cleaning madness and don’t be fooled into thinking this ordering of my universe is casual or one dimensional.
To me, it’s logical.
When you touch a small thing, the motion moves outward into many larger, undirected and undetected things.
It’s easier to replace the oil in your car than the transmission.
It’s easier to clean a dish as you use it than face an overwhelming kitchen mess at midnight.
It’s easier to take one step and then another than take one medicine, and then another, because you skipped your walk again or lifted your fork again, one bite and then another.
Parenting. Any version. Any child.
Never underestimate the weight of this opportunity to change your world to a better one.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.*
Easier to teach the child right from wrong, that “no” will not be the end of him, that empathy, understanding other people, understanding themselves, understanding sane ways of walking the earth with our neighbors is mandatory…
than blink and realize a grown man still has fears and angers and hurts and no way of soothing, reassuring or healing himself.
It is so easy to discount the small things. The desperately human things.
And when they become huge and masks go on and guns are lifted and there appears to be nothing left to lose, understand something…
At some point, a small thing was lost. Missed the mark. Discarded or left behind. Never had a chance to sprout.
These are things with which I struggle.
Because it’s easier for me to arrange my cupboards than arrange my child’s attitudes.
It’s easier to pass more laws than help people heal their hearts.
And yet it must be attempted.
He was born to challenge the whole wide world, to pit himself against the boundaries life imposes. He needs to feel the crashing and know it’s real and in the knowing, feel safer.
He is learning about others and himself and walking this earth.
And he looks to me all the while, to see if I notice and to hear if I have opinions and most of all, to get reassurance that yes, he is okay and yes he is capable, and yes he is still loved world without end.
And these also, he will challenge. To make sure they are real, too.
And that reality will shape everything: him, his choices, the world around him.
He will be able to put his insecurities and ignorance to rest and rise to the higher ideas of respect, honor, value of life, love.
That there is nobility and self-respect in doing the harder things.
Instead of worrying so much about getting, he can feel full enough to start giving.
Inevitably, this is where my point comes full circle.
The small things, the intangibles, the harder things, are the things that will change the world.
What the world needs in terms of cleaning, healing, and clarity, is you.
Look into your mirror and remember the small things and give them to yourself.
Remember you are capable.
And things will be okay.
Because you decided they will be.
Turn on your light, and the shadows will be no more.
*This quote is widely attributed to Frederick Douglass. You should look the guy up.