well that's just bad parenting
or is it?
i feel like sometimes we want to explain away some tragic event simply because we don't want to believe it could happen to us, happen to my child. it's oh so easy to judge the actions (or inaction) of others. hindsight is 20/20, right? i'm reminded of the incident with the two year old at disney world. after the event, other parents realized they had let their littles do the exact same thing this one was doing. but lucky for them, they didn't happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. i don't want to believe that i couldn't stop that from happening to my child. therefore, it happened to that one because of bad parenting.
of course there are things within our control and things that are not. for example, i can control whether or not i put my child in a carseat and strap her in correctly. i can control my speed, my sensitivity to cars around me, what time of day i drive. i can avoid the no good that happens late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. but drunk drivers drive at all hours of the day. sober people run red lights. broken people in a broken world and broken things happen in it.
i have a love/hate relationship with technology, social media, the internet. i like that i can more easily keep in touch with friends and family who live across the country and across the world. i like that google maps can tell me where to go when i am clearly directionally impaired. i like listening to podcasts over nap time. but i really do not like that the news blows up all of our feeds with stories that incite fear. i do not like that social media is a platform for everyone to share their opinions without talking face to face.
in my own life, and this is not true for everyone who uses social media, i felt like my time on facebook detracted from the relationships i could cultivate with the humans standing right in front of me. it also made me dislike a number of my "friends" and their opinions shared for the world to see. so i figured it was time to step back. and i've been in and out of facebook, admittedly. but every time i get back on i'm reminded of why i wanted to get off in the first place.
when something rubs me the wrong way - something spoken to me, something written, whatever - i kind of fixate on it. and i'll repeat it in my head. and i'll think and think about it. often times this takes me down the trail of assuming that something was meant in offense. i'm working on catching myself when this happens and instead of assuming the worst, trying to assume the best. give the person the benefit of the doubt. chances are that thing that offended me wasn't meant to. i could ask for clarification if necessary. we all think and write things coming from our personal perspectives and frames of mind. we can be defensive or fearful or angry when confronted with things we don't understand. but what if instead of being defensive or fearful or angry, we asked questions. we clarified thoughts. we sought to understand the "other" that is not like us. that "other" that said or did something that confuses us. because at the end of the day, the "other" is just a person too. a person with feelings, friends, family.
that work of getting to know someone is hard. especially when they are different than us. especially when we don't want to get to know them. but maybe if we did that hard work, we wouldn't have antagonism between cops and the people they're meant to protect. maybe we wouldn't have an avalanche of hateful comments and news coverage of a family who just lost their two year old, but rather love and support.
i've been thinking a lot lately of something i can do beyond motherhood in this season. not because motherhood isn't enough for me, but because i want to make sure my whole identity isn't wrapped up in being a mom. eventually, my babe is going to be 18 and leaving for college and i don't want to be left behind wondering - what do i do now? i've been listening to podcasts over nap time and the content has got me thinking about different ways i can get involved to promote racial reconciliation and to equip parents like myself to raise their children in a god honoring way so that when they do leave the nest, they have a strong foundation and don't leave the faith as a staggering percentage of our youth do. i have ideas bouncing around inside my head of how to do this, and i'm seeking ways to plug into our church here and get this party started. i don't know what it's going to end up looking like, but i'm going to keep chipping away at it until i figure something out.
and in the meantime, i'm constantly fumbling through this thing called motherhood. trying to figure out how to best do [insert everything]. i'm constantly learning by trial and error. bina has been teething for like two months now. drool monster. we're breastfeeding and sometimes she eats table foods well and sometimes she doesn't. i need an explanation for everything but you know what? sometimes there is none. some nights she barely eats anything for dinner and i freak out thinking she's not going to sleep and then, like last night, she sleeps through the night and later than usual! and sometimes she eats a ton and wakes twice and then gets up earlier than usual. i imagine i'm not alone. for the most part, i'm sure we're all doing the best we can and learning by trial and error. and we probably need to put down the parenting pitch forks and just give everyone a little bit of slack. give each other the benefit of the doubt. we all make mistakes. not all of us make mistakes that cost our children's lives, but we all make mistakes. we can all admit to that, right? we're human. we're broken. we live in a broken world.
sometimes, you gotta vacuum the house because the dog hair is getting too deep. and then your munchkin is all clingy and trails you like a little puppy carrying her pj shorts and crying like you vacuuming is ripping out her precious little heart.
and then once you're done you feed that little munchkin lunch and think she's eaten all of her strawberries until you look in her bib. and you wonder if you're not giving her enough veggies, too much lunch meat... it's a vicious cycle of self doubt. but you love that little munchkin something fierce. and you hope those around you can see that in the midst of your fumbling.
so i'm going to commit to trying to think the best of others when something is said or something happens that i don't understand. i'm going to commit to trying to befriend those who are different than me so that i can understand better. and we'll just see where this goes. because maybe it's not bad parenting. maybe we just live in a broken world with broken people and broken things happen. and we are all in need of some grace.