In a world where text messaging has quickly become the main (and preferred) method of communication, where threats of a nuclear war still exist, where political leaders engage in immature and embarrassing rants via Twitter, and where racism in its many forms is NOT a thing of the past, I can’t help but wonder: how can I make a difference? Or more specifically: how can I make a positive difference?
As I turn on the news in the evening, I constantly catch myself trying to distract my daughter so that she will not pay attention to what’s happening around us. My goal is not to shelter her or make her oblivious to the “real world”. After all, sooner than later she will be out there on her own, having to fend for herself. But how do I explain to a six-year old that there was a mass shooting during a music festival, that an Olympic team doctor was molesting his young patients, or that a child almost the same age as her strapped a bomb to his waist and blew himself up for no good reason? What do I say to her when she asks me why someone shot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? This is what she asked me last week, and I quote: “Why did a man shoot him? If you don’t like someone, you should just walk away. You don’t have to hurt them.” Yeah… Did I mention she is only six?
Lately, more than ever, I keep asking myself: how can I contribute to society? How can I make a positive impact? What can I do??? My husband and I donate to charities that speak to our hearts, but should we give more? We both work full-time while raising a small child, but is that an excuse to not volunteer more? Could we manage our time better? Are we managing our money correctly? The more I ask these questions, the more I think that I could indeed do more. But at the same time, I get overwhelmed by the thought of taking on more than I can handle. My life is hectic as it is, so how do I add even more to my plate?
I can make the argument both ways, but in all honesty, deep inside, I want to do more. And I believe I will find a way to do more. But for now, I will stop beating myself up for feeling like I am not doing enough and focus on raising my daughter. That is a full-time job in itself and one that I find extremely important, as she is part of our future.
From the moment my daughter was born, I’ve said to myself (and to my husband) that I hope she becomes a better person than I am. Not that I am a bad person, but I could be better. There is always room for improvement. And I pray that she is better, much better. But for that to happen, I need to be the best parent I can be. She needs to see it in me. She needs to not only believe my words but see me live those words. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “children are like sponges, they absorb everything”. It is true. They are very good observers and they are always paying attention to the words we speak, the facial expressions we make, and the actions we take. My husband and I have the very important job of making sure that we are not just a couple of hypocrites. There are too many kids out there being told to “do as I say”. We want to be the “do as we do” parents. We have no other choice, if we want her to trust us.
We, as parents, have the obligation and responsibility to create a loving environment where our daughter feels happy and confident, but more importantly, an environment where she feels safe, both physically and emotionally. I want her to always feel comfortable talking to me, no matter how delicate the subject may be. I want her to feel like she can confide in me. I want her to know that it’s OK to make a mistake, but that we should be accountable and learn from the mistakes we make. I want her to take responsibility for her actions, instead of blaming someone else, but I also want her to know when it’s not her fault, and when to make someone else accountable. I want her to know that she is in control of her life and the decisions she makes, and that her dad and I will always be there to support her. We are her foundation, and I feel so humbled and blessed that she chose us to be her parents, her guardians, her guides through the most important years of her life. I also feel tremendous pressure and responsibility, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
As I write this post, another human being has made his grand entrance into this crazy world: my nephew. His parents are amazing people and I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions to our society when he grows up. And if I believe that, I must also believe that, at least for now, the biggest difference I can make is through my daughter and the way I raise her. She is loving, kind, compassionate, and respectful of the people and the environment around her. No, she is not perfect, none of us are. But since a very young age, she’s understood the difference between right and wrong. It is something that is common sense to her, and we all know how common sense is not all that common these days. And for that, my husband and I will gladly take credit. Sure, her Montessori education has had a significant impact in her life (and in ours). But as parents, we have been her biggest role models, her mirror, her real-life heroes. So, I will again take credit for having raised a good human being these last six years. And if everyone out there could say the same thing, I would be pretty darn confident that we would have a bright future ahead. We desperately need a brighter future!
So back to my initial struggle… I will, at least for now, try to let go of the doubts and the pressure. Because maybe, just maybe, I am making a significant difference already.