We live in a very scary world.
Terrorism. Poisoned water. Mass shootings. Hate crimes. Infectious disease outbreaks.
Every time we turn on the television or click into social media, we’re bombarded with reasons to be afraid. Good reasons. Reasons for hiding in our homes, under the covers in our bed. Except that our beds are filled with toxic chemicals and bed bug infestations. No place is safe.
Each time another tragic event rocks our country and our world, the same question gets asked: how can you bring a child into this world?
How can you allow a piece of your heart to walk through this world, knowing what might befall him? How are you not crushed under the weight of fear?
As a white, Christian mother, the first answer is that I am privileged. My son currently walks through this world as a white male. As he grows older, he’ll confirm for us his gender, his sexuality, his religion or lack thereof, and so his privilege may change. But his privilege exists, nonetheless.
Still, never far from my heart is that other mothers are not so privileged. I imagine that, if I multiply my own fears by 10, I might have some idea of what it takes to walk through this world without privilege. For myself or my child.
Which leads me to my answer to the question of how I can bring him into this world: Because it is my responsibility to change it.
No, that doesn’t mean that I had my son to change the world. It means that, when the world gets scary, he gives me hope that we can change it.
While we live in scary times, they aren’t any scarier than they’ve always been. In fact, I’d argue that they are the best we’ve ever had. And, with our continued work, they will only get better. Look at the progress we’ve made as a society. Our medical and scientific breakthroughs. Our large steps towards actual equality. Our efforts to create safe spaces and visibility and acceptance. We are far from perfect, and we have a long way to go, but that does not negate the progress we’ve made.
If you notice, each time we take a step backward in that progress, we see the allies. We see the fighters. We see the advocates. We see hope. We see courage. Together, we stand with one another. We hold each other up. My responsibility as a parent to continue to stand up, as an ally and an advocate, to make the world safer for not just my child, but all of our children. And it is my privilege to raise a child who will grow up to be the kind of man that will stand up and fight for positive change, too.
Don’t get me wrong – I fear. I fear that he’ll get hurt. Whether it be a car accident or a drowning or a shooting. I know that my time with him is precious and I fear the things that could take him away from me. But, I can’t live in fear. I choose, instead, to live in hope.
This morning, I woke up next to the future. He was still asleep, so I stared at him for awhile. Thinking of how bright and wonderful he could be. He rolled over, looked at me, and waved his little hand. “Hi, Mommy. I love you.”
The future is bright. It is hopeful. It is filled with love.