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Fear, Privilege and Parenting

Parenting while experiencing fear is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. With everything going on in the world, it’s hard not to.

A world health pandemic made no exception, and that universal fear of never wanting anything to happen to our children, affected parents of all creeds, races, ages, beliefs; a simultaneous experience of collective fear in parenting.

For some, that fear was able to be met with a solution that provided safety again. Being able to work from home to keep one’s children safe. Having a home to bring them to. Being able to afford to stop working if needed. Having access to health care should something happen.

For some, that fear simply added to the pile of other fears one already parents with, and no easy solution for them.

The differences between those two experiences of fear in parenting is privilege.

I think we all experience some sort of fear when parenting, but I am acutely aware of the huge spectrum “parenting with fear” has, and privilege in direct relation to that.

The more privilege you have, the less fear in parenting.

The less privilege you have, the more fear in parenting.

This is not new information. 

When I think about who would be more prone to chronically parent with a high level of fear, I don’t have to think about it for too long. The current affairs of the world right now will tell you who, and there are many, and it’s always those who are marginalized.

This is not new information.

The part that I especially can’t stop thinking about, is the lifelong consequences this has for both the parent and child.

That is generational trauma. And that is also not new information.

Even with all the best of my intentions, if I experience stress, I am humanly unable to parent the way I want to. And I acknowledge that the stress that I experience is few and far between. For some, parenting with chronic stress is an everyday normal, and with all the information available at one’s fingertips, a quick research on psychology will tell you the consequences that has.

That is generational trauma. This is not new information.

Generational trauma directly in relation to privilege.

I have hope in the generation of my children, hope that they are the light and the change that will make the world a better place. I have to be.

As a parent, I also know that my hope for the generation of tomorrow is supported by the parents of today, and they need support today.

How do I support the parents that are raising tomorrow’s generation -today, right now!?

That’s a question I have kept in my mind for every action I am taking on the current state of the world. How is that helping the parent that is raising my children’s future classmate? Future friends? Future life partner? Future co worker? Because to me, to care for my children, is to care for the parent, and their child.

My heart is with all parents, but especially with those who parents with love, with hope, with patience, with care, with perseverance, with pride, even while experiencing so much fear due to things they cannot change.

I want to listen to your story, please don’t stop telling it. Let me carry any weight I possibly can, even the weight of stories that are hard to tell.

I may not be able to offer many things, but I see you today, I hear you today, I act with you today, with a collective hope for our children tomorrow.

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The Charm of a Hot Air Balloon

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Through my closed bedroom curtains, I could tell even before getting out of bed that today was going to be a beautiful day. The light that was diffusing into the room was warm, and when I finally opened the curtains, I was greeted with a beautiful view of our backyard.

Penelope and Oliver were already up, quietly talking to each other in their room. They are respectful to our sleep in the morning, which I think is such a kind gesture. Somehow, they know a week day from the weekend, and have a natural politeness for slow mornings on the weekend. Perhaps part of that is them, but perhaps also something we have instilled in them from the time they were born.

As we were all having breakfast, Oliver shouted “Hot Air Balloon!!” and when we looked outside our window, there it was; a hot air balloon flying over our backyard.

For a hot air balloon to fly, the weather has to be almost perfect. Light wind, clear skies, warm enough. You would think that those three factors are easy to come by in combination, but I’m sure that anyone who flies hot air balloons would disagree. It was a good luck charm to our day.

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Later in the morning, we visited our favorite river valley spot, and for hours, the kids threw rocks and sticks into the river, filling the air with the sounds of their laughter.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t nap when we got home. I always feel more tired after a midday nap, but alas, I sat down on the couch when they kids were napping and fell asleep. Go figure. Today though, I woke up from the nap full of energy for the rest of the day.

Oliver and I went spent the afternoon in the backyard, and I love that it’s becoming something we have naturally started to do together. Watching him, I can see he has a natural affinity for plants. For a 2.5 year old, he is a wonderful gardener. He is serious about his work, and takes pride in watering the plants, making sure to visit each one at least twice.

Our yard is already blooming so wonderfully this season, and I know it’s because of him.

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And so today was a perfect day, so perfect that a hot air balloon flew over our backyard.