So, I think about tragedies… a lot. It’s a part of who I am. Day in and day out, I think about the worst things that could happen, I go to sleep and thank God that I didn’t get a bad phone call, I wake up and think “Yes. I’m here” and I do my best not to roll my eyes at 6:45 when my kids walk in the room because thank God, they’re here too. I sleep on the side of the bed that’s closest to the door (or the girls) because even though I know my husband is stronger and steadier than I am, I still have nightmares that something happens and he is in such a deep sleep that he doesn’t wake up in time. I don’t have a password on my cellphone because I worry that something might happen to me in my sleep, and I need Isabella to be able to call for help, but we live in the age of no house phones. She knows about 911, and what an emergency is, she knows our address, she knows my full name and her dad’s full name. In my phone, the favorites list is all of our family members with a big picture of their face so she can easily find a person to call in case she forgets about 911. I teach her about how to react to strangers if they try to kidnap her, and that sometimes bad people pretend to be good. I teach her to scream as loud as she can and kick and hit them in their private areas. She knows the anatomical name for said private areas, and that hers are only for her, and no one should ever ever ask her to keep a secret about them. As Zoey gets older, she learns these things too.
Often times, I cry to myself because I know it’s not enough. I cry because this year Isabella starts school and I worry that someone could just walk right in there and hurt her, or one of her peers, or one of her teachers. And I want her to go off and thrive and have friends and just be a kid, but I genuinely worry about her safety. I cry because when I think about kids in other countries living in war zones, in my minds eye, they have the faces of my children. When I think about mothers giving birth in war zones they look like my sister and my friends. When I think about the men who lost their entire family in war zones, but are still trying to help their neighbors, they look like my husband. And as he puts it “we won the birth place lottery” and that’s really what it boils down to, but I always wonder: how long does that type of currency last? I cry because when I think about someone deciding not to tell anyone that they were raped or coerced into doing anything they didn’t want to do or bullied, I think “oh my god what if that’s my kid one day”. I cry because I worry that one day my children’s children won’t have breathable air, or clean water, and our oceans will have no more fish and our land will be dust, and sometimes it feels like no one actually cares about that. I cry because fuck, I love my body. It gave me my kids, and more than that- it’s a great body that is alive right here, right now and it’s mine. And it may have fat on it but why does that matter at all, ever, in regards to who I am? The truth, the actual truth, is it doesn’t, but I can’t control the fact that there are commercials about drinking “slim” smoothies that are “healthier” than regular smoothies with flashing pictures of women in bathing suits and one day that might make my girls feel less than. I cry because I know that I can try my hardest but I can’t prepare them for or protect them from every bad thing that could happen. I can’t protect them from other people pushing ideals and standards onto them rather than taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.
I cry because the ONLY thing I care about is being here, for them, for my husband, for my family and friends. And the truth is that I’m not trying to be the perfect mom or wife or friend but I’m damn sure not here to settle for mediocrity because I could die tomorrow and when it comes to my kids what will they remember of me? They’ll know what everyone tells them, sure. But what will they KNOW? I want them to know in their bones that their mom was worried about them and the world she brought them into, that she thought about them in every single thing she did, in every choice she made for herself and for them. And when she seemed like she was an activist or a bleeding heart or like she cared too much she was actually just being their mom, and she wanted them to feel safe and feel strong and feel loved, and she wanted to help others feel safe and strong and loved, too. I want them to know that I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want to be, but I loved them more perfectly than anything else in my world.
So yeah, I think about tragedies, because one day I won’t be here to do that, and I don’t know when that day is coming, but I do know that each moment in this life I’m living actually matters. It all adds up to who I am, and who my babies will be, and what they will remember. And that’s everything. That’s my legacy. And I want them to know, to really really know, I cared about that.