I hate spiders. I'm not like out of control afraid of them but it is borderline. Before I had kids if I saw a spider I would FREAK OUT. Like scream, run out of the room kind of thing. I once threw a laundry hamper on the ground upside down because there was a spider in it and then had to call a neighbor to come kill it for me. Yes. I did that. I was terrified.
Now that I have kids, however, I have tried my hardest to avoid passing along that fear to my kids so I need to really reign it in when I see a spider. Inside I am literally like in full blown panic mode and it takes every fiber of my being to not flee the area shrieking and curl up in a ball somewhere rocking myself gently but on the outside I keep it together. I find a shoe, and I send that spider along on his cosmic journey (no I don't put him in a cup and release him outside, that would push me WAAAAAAY over the edge, sorry).
It's also the way I weather a storm with the kids. The thunder makes me jump too, but I laugh about it, I smile about it, I make a joke about it so the kids don't get scared. I try to make them come up with ideas about where lightning comes from and how many water droplets they think are coming down to distract them.
Lately, along with everyone else, I've been watching the news about Boston and it is hard to put into words how I feel about it. I looked at the photos of Martin Richard, just 8 years old. I watched Krystle Campbell's mom speak to the media, she cried as she spoke and at the end she simply said "This doesn't make sense". And I cried with her. I cried partly because it struck me so powerfully, that it just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense that this woman's beautiful daughter was here, watching the marathon, everything was fine, and then someone would want to shatter that, to take her away from her family, to create this horror, this terror, it doesn't make sense. And I cried because I have no explanation for this stuff for my kids, I have nothing to offer them, no explanation as to why this kind of thing happens, I have nothing to say. Little Martin who hugged his dad after he ran the marathon, turned back to the crowd, and was gone.
It makes no sense. And it never will. Just like Newtown, there won't be enough answers. Even if the suspect is caught alive, will he say anything that will satisfy the question of WHY? Why would you do that? Why would you take those people away like that?
I lie awake at night and think about the craziness in the world right now, all of the horrible, scary, terrible stuff, and how incapable I feel at being able to protect my kids from it. It's an awful feeling. I try to stay positive, but man, it's hard sometimes. It's hard to find positivity in this, it's hard to see Martin Richard's photo and find something besides just a deep, deep sadness and incredible anger toward those who did that to him. It's hard to not let it get me down. It is hard to not get pulled under. It's hard when I try to imagine what those families must be going through, it is simply unfathomable.
But, as terrified as I am, I need to put on the poker face for my kids. And I'm so unbelievably grateful for that, because sometimes, if I didn't have to, I would really lose it. I would let the fear get the best of me. Being forced, for their sake, to suck it up and move forward is such a gift, and is one that I doubt I would have if it wasn't for being a parent. One day, when they're older, I want to tell them how they gave me that gift of strength, how it changed me for the better, how it made me a more capable person. To be able to face the scariness and keep going, because of them, it's invaluable.
And that's what I am really trying to take from this, that we all need to just keep going, because of our children, because of the people that need other people, because even though there are spiders and scary things and horrible people and bad things that happen all the time, they need US to be strong. And we can be strong. And we should be strong.
Finn overheard something about the bombing on the bus the other day (isn't the school bus so GREAT for that sort of thing?!). He said some older kids were talking about it, that "some people got blown up and a guy got his legs blown off". He asked me this morning, while we were snuggling in bed as the sun came up, why someone would want to blow someone up. "I don't know" was my first, and honest, response. "People are angry. And sad, I guess. Mostly angry." He thought about it, then he asked me how we can make people not be angry anymore. I asked him how he thought we could do that. He paused for a minute, thinking it through, and then told me "Maybe if we do something nice for them they won't be so angry". And I agreed with him. I told him that even though there are bad guys in the world, he was one of the good guys, and that there were more good guys than bad guys out there.
After Newtown, a lot of people, including myself, took on a project to do 26 acts of kindness. Most people thought it was a good idea. Some did not. Some people took a somewhat
annoying surprisingly negative tone with it, saying things like "You shouldn't have to brag about your kindness". Now, I won't really get worked up on how much it irritates me for someone to take something so positive and turn it negative because I'm REALLY trying to stay positive, instead I will simply say, YES. BRAG ABOUT KINDNESS. Let's brag about how freaking KIND we can be to each other. What better thing to brag about than kindness? I would much rather hear someone walk into an office Monday morning saying "Oh man, I helped so many people this weekend" than hear about their new car, or shoes, or how much they worked out, or what restaurant they ate at (ed. note: I do love shoes though, I will listen to that in addition to your kindness).
Now, before you compose your comment/email/ranting response to me, I get it. I realize that people think kindness should be a normal occurrence, not something you get special recognition for, but why is that? Why shouldn't the spotlight be on being NICE to people? Why should it be kept to yourself? Don't we all need a little more kindness and light in our lives? The fact that someone is actually OFFENDED when someone "boasts" about being nice to another human being is quite simply mind boggling to me. MIND. BOGGLING. I agree with someone who thinks that kindness should be a way of life, not something worthy of boasting, that it should be the norm. When it is, then people can stop bragging about it. But it's not right now. Not yet.
So, if you spend your weekend volunteering, or you help out someone less fortunate than you, or if you simply buy someone's coffee, in my eyes you have full reign to brag as much as you want. In fact, I'd like you to brag about it in front of my children. Please tell them all about how much you helped people, and how cool it was, and how much you like being kind, and compassionate, and please show them that people are good. People can still be good. Please give them your example of kindness so it can blot out the other scary examples. I'm going to work my ass off doing it myself as well.
Let's push out the darkness with all of our light, together. xoxo