Tuesday, May 2, 2017

You were warned

It's easy to brush off comments about how parenthood changes you, especially when you're childless. I have a friend who bristles when it's implied that the experience would cause her to think differently.

"I can't watch anything where there's violence done to children," a friend of mine once confessed after I watched her children. We had been talking about Game of Thrones, and how she had to stop watching after the first episode, when a young boy is pushed out a window and becomes a paraplegic in the process. 

The curse of the modern world is that we can watch, in real time, as people suffer. I glance around my apartment and wonder how many refugees I could feed and shelter, and for how long. We hear of those who die and flee from war. We see the mourners bury their dead. Sometimes we see their faces, often not. There are too many faces. But we know they're there and there's a nagging in your head that you should do something about it. 

You send money and you hope that they're using it effectively. You've called your representatives and earnestly stated that we need to help. What else can you do? 

But then you see a man cradling his two babies, babies who are now nine months old forever. And you think of your own nine month old and how delicious it is to feel his heavy weight in your lap. 

Your heart seizes. You know the cost of that loss. You know the work it took to make those perfect little bodies, the hope there was in those little lives. You go to check on your own little boy and you think of how there's no difference between you and that man, only that you live here and he lives there. How there's no difference between your baby and his, except his are now gone and blessed be, yours breaths and sleeps so soundly. 

And how lucky you are for all of that, and how quickly any of it could change.

It shouldn't surprise me how much it unnerves me, how much it bothers me. It bothered me before, too but it feels different now. I was warned. 

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