Being a parent is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. As a parent, three of the things I love most walk around in a dangerous world filled with germs, obstacles, and danger.
I spend most of my day trying to keep these tiny people alive and healthy. As the main caretaker of my children that’s my real job, my bread and butter. So to insure their health and safety (and not to mention, my sanity) I have certain rules and rituals I live by:
I believe in teeth brushing, hand washing, and four servings of fruit and vegetables each day. I believe in limiting t.v. and holding hands in the parking lot. I believe in cups of milk with dinner, vaccinations, and playing outside. I believe in swimming lessons and water safety. I believe in having smoke detectors in every room and booster seats in every car. I believe in kissing boo-boos and then using neosporin. I believe in sunscreen and tightly laced tennis shoes.
But there are other forces beside sickness and disease that prey on children. I was pregnant with my firstborn on 9/11. My second baby was born two days after Elizabeth Smart was rescued from the man who abducted, abused, and raped her for almost a year. I was pregnant with my last baby when the tragedy at Virginia Tech happened. So I am very much aware that there are evil things that roam this world in the disguise of humans that would exploit or destroy the most vulnerable among us.
To protect my family there are other things I do that aren’t based in actual science like nutrition, but I have faith in them nevertheless.
I believe in bedtime stories to keep away nightmares and morning prayers to plead for safety. I believe in letting my kids roam but knowing where they are at all times. I believe in asking, “Who is it?” before opening the front door. I believe in using the drive-thru at the bank and avoiding bad areas of town. I believe in locking car doors. I believe in karma, so I let people with fewer groceries go ahead of my full cart at the store. I believe in looking people in the eye and smiling hello as I pass by them. I believe in being kind.
Do I think that if I follow these things to the letter that my children will never be hurt? No. I’m not foolish enough to believe that. I’m sure that the people in Aurora, Colorado were kind. I’m sure they held doors open for others and believed that good triumphs over evil. And yet one night evil found them anyway.
But in this scary, scary world you must have faith in something, no matter how nebulous or frail. Otherwise, you would spend everyday hidden inside, trapped by your own fears. I know this because the temptation to bubble wrap my children and hide them away is so great.
But I choose to take my children out into a world that sees heinous and atrocious acts committed daily. I choose to believe in good.
And that is the only way I am able to parent.