These days, I treasure the early-morning moments listening to Rory sleep, peaceful little snores emanating from his cuddly little toddler body. I cover his bare legs with the feather quilt, and everything seems calm, and safe, and warm. This scene feeds my worldview of choice, in which we parents can keep our little ones protected from life’s calamities.
The truth — as everyone watching the news from Japan knows — is that we can’t. Not entirely. Buildings can be engineered to the highest human capabilities. Early warning systems can be put into place. Failsafes can be arranged. And, yet, a beautiful helpless child can be swept away in a tsunami of one kind or another.
It’s the truth, but I can only look at it for a little while before I have to turn away. It’s hard to move forward when continually confronted by your own helplessness. You can feed your kids nothing but the healthiest foods. You can make sure they get their annual check-ups and all their vaccinations. You can love them beyond all reason. And, sometimes, that might not be enough.
So, I retreat into the illusion of my own efficacy. I remind myself how my own situation differs from those in Japan. We live well inland. We aren’t in a particularly seismically-active area. We don’t have nuclear power plants in the immediate area. We can protect our children from disaster. Nothing bad is ever going to happen to our family. And I listen to the little snores, the giggles of laughter, the burgeoning vocabulary. I feel the hugs and kisses and impossibly soft skin of my children. I concentrate on the beautiful mundanities of cooking dinner, changing diapers and bedtime stories, focusing on the love… struggling to push the dreadful truth out of my mind.
(Inspired in part by Liz at Mom-101’s great post on the subject.)