I spent all of my day the other day editing articles about what to do if there’s a nuclear attack, or lead in the water supply, and tips for dealing with the spread of Zika.
By early afternoon, I was feeling despondent and afraid. I went online and I bought one of those pre-packed backpacks with survival supplies to keep in our basement.
Later, after a meeting, I felt fear again, a low-grade anxiety thrumming in my chest. Are we doing enough? Are we being delusional? How soon until my daughter’s birth certificate arrives—and how I can order her a passport?
Then I scrolled through photos on my phone, photos of my life outside work. There are many photos of my family in my phone–my daughter wearing a bathing suit and a pussy hat, two daughters standing together with a sign about smashing the patriarchy, four kids from our block playing together on the sidewalk, and on and on.
I relaxed a little, knowing that soon I will be heading home to the belly laughs and funny faces of my kiddos.
Every parent I know seems to be obsessing over how to talk about the news with their kids, but I cannot relate to these particular worries.
My family has been marching at protests, carrying signs, and raging at injustice since we have been a family. My daughter Adira is two, and she surprised us one day about six months ago by chanting, “No justice, no peace!” as we ate dinner. We talk about politics and injustice constantly, everything from “What is colonialism?” to “How the heck does the electoral college work?” Our kids have helped us campaign, come with us to the voting booth, and watched us organize activism in all kinds of ways.
Yes, right now times are scarier than they have ever been before. Nazis marched fearlessly in Virginia, and the President seems to encourage hate, to stoke the racist and anti-Semitic fires that have been smoldering in the hearts of young white men for longer than we suspected. The news and my social media feeds feel like never ending roller coasters of fear and anxiety.
But at the end of the day, I go home to two smart, funny, wonderful girls. I don’t know how I would get through the days without them, without the knowledge that I will come home and get to see Adira rock out to the Hokey Pokey, or discuss some of the finer points of “Harry Potter” with Ronia. People complain (I too have complained in the past) about the drudgery of parenthood: changing diapers and making lunches and figuring out how to keep a toddler from dismantling the house.
But some days it feels like a relief, a real gift to have something else that will occupy my brain, to keep it from jumping endlessly from Charlottesville to North Korea to Russia and back to Charlottesville.
I am grateful, so damn grateful I could weep, for this. I’m grateful the days when I spend more hours negotiating with toddlers than I do reading about Trump “negotiating” with anyone. I’m grateful for the bedtime stories and snuggles, lighting Shabbat candles, and blowing the shofar, and sometimes baking cookies—because we all feel better if we have fresh cookies.
I can’t deny that it is a scary time to be a parent, to think about kids growing up in this messed up world.
But I’m also so glad my kids are in this world. They bring so much joy to me it almost doesn’t seem real. And I have faith in them and in their friends, and in their friends’ parents. The kids really are alright. And on hard days, the only thing that keeps me alright is knowing that.