Protecting Kids From The Monsters Of The World

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Little boy and soldier in a military uniform say goodbye before a separation

When the Iraq war started, I was in my very early 20’s. I was a journalist sitting in a small apartment in-the-middle-of-nowhere-Illinois watching it all unfold on T.V. surrounded by several of my colleagues.

I remember not being afraid. I’m not sure if that was because I was naive about the situation or because I was in that rare time of life where I felt somewhat powerful as a person – living on my own, making my own decisions, writing about other people’s problems. I also felt pretty confident that “we” understood what “we” were getting ourselves into and that we could “win” – whatever winning means in war.

To me, even in a post 9-11 world, the scariest monster was still the one under the bed.

 




Tonight as I heard about the airstrike on Syria, and this week as I saw the photos of the people and children from there suffering from chemical attacks, I wished for whatever made me feel so invincible in my 20’s.

Tonight I am scared. I don’t fully know what “we” are getting ourselves into this time. I don’t know that anyone really does.

Tonight I am thinking about my own children, safely asleep in their beds. I am afraid for the world that they will grow up in. I am scared about the images they will see as they grow through their formative years.

Part of me is worried they might not get to grow up at all. Part of me is worried that this will be the start of something that we cannot “win” or even finish.

All of me sees my babies’ faces in the faces of those dead children this week. I feel the anguish of the Syrian father who couldn’t let go of his sweet, 9-month-old twins. I ache for him. I sobbed with him. Because I have lost a child, I feel connected to him. Although as far as tragedies go, his is much worse.

I think that’s it right there though.

In my 20’s, I had nothing to lose. It was just me. I had no one I needed to watch out for, no one I needed to support. I had no one I needed to protect.

This time, as a parent, I have all of the above. I have these two, tiny humans who look up at me and expect me to protect them from scary noises and monsters, and in giving them life I’ve made a silent vow that I will do so. After all, that’s what parenthood is.




I always think that I can prepare for anything bad that can happen to us. If I have a spot picked out in the basement for tornados, if I have exit routes planned for fires, if I buy the safest vehicle and put them in the safest baby car seat…I tell myself if I can do all that, I can keep them safe.

The truth is, I can’t.

Monsters are tricky things. Sometimes they look like you and me. Sometimes they come out in the daytime. Sometimes they fly airplanes. Sometimes they lead countries. Many times you don’t know when they’re coming and they catch you off guard.

Those are the monsters I can’t save them from and it’s not fair.

It’s not fair that a father had to hold his children this week as they died in his arms. It’s not fair that you can do everything right as a parent but the world can still take them away.

It’s not true what they say. Nothing’s really fair in love or war, especially when you’re a parent. As a parent, you know that the scariest monsters are usually humanity’s own creations.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I could only imagine what you go through or any parent goes through with this situation. I wouldn’t be able to deal. Unless I traveled with my significant other besides where we can’t go with him. It breaks my heart especially when the child is so young in age too.

  2. I have gone through this same dialogue in my head this week. Watching those children get hosed down and the anguish of the parents broke me down. I held my daughter and cried because I am just so grateful that she is living in a “safe” place, for as much as that means. It’s a difficult road to navigate as a parent. Beautifully written.

  3. I feel very similar to this. Before I didn’t have children, and now I see their faces in all of those slain. It breaks my heart, and scares me at the same time. I have many family members in the military, and i worry for them. My husband was army, and I am so glad he is no longer enlisted.

  4. I agree.. As parents, the only thing that we want is to make sure that our children are in a safe place, away from those tricky monsters. Sending warm hugs!

  5. I love the message you send through this beautiful post! How true is this “the scariest monsters are usually humanity’s own creations”. It’s not only in the war that the monster could appear. The monster could easily come into our daily life, through the people we meet, through the problems we have, even..through ourselves.

  6. Aww wish I can give you a big hug. All parents I think has this problem. Hopefully things will get easier. xx

  7. I have these thoughts a lot. I have a strange mind though, and terrible thoughts rush through my mind. My daughters are 17 and 11, but the fear of something happening is still the same for me, no matter their age. I want to protect them from everything, but looking back at history, I can’t. There is no telling what tomorrow holds, and the only thing I can do to protect them is to pray over them, and know that God is in control.

  8. This is beautifully written, Rachel. Watching those horrific videos of the attack in Syria broke my heart and I do not have children. I can not imagine how it difficult it must be to be a parent watching them. Thank you for sharing your heart. <3

  9. I agree with you 100%. As a parent, you’re going to get scared and worried when you see another parent lose a child or go through something so difficult in life. It’s heartbreaking to see and read the news these days and the more I watch, the more I worry about my children’s future.

  10. While I don’t have children, I am an aunt. And I worry about what kind of future my nieces and nephew will have. I hope that this horrible war in Syria will end soon and that no more families will have to suffer. Seeing the horrors the refugees and the people still living in Syria are enduring is heartbreaking.

  11. All of this is part of the most overwhelming part of becoming a parent. I think so much about things like this and hate that this is the reality of our world – what will someday be the world that shapes our son’s life and what he has to deal with as he starts as a family of his own someday. Watching as things happen around us in today’s reality is truly heartbreaking.

  12. Its definitely a scary world we live in and only seems to be getting scarier. Like you say we take all the precautions to keep our families safe, but there’s only so much we can do.

  13. Syria is heartbreaking and I can’t imagine being a parent there. While there is so much bad in the world, we just have to remember to see the good too.

  14. Sometimes is it truly terrifying to be a parent isn’t it? You can’t possibley protect the most from everything and it can make you crazy trying!

  15. Oh man I’m right there with you. My son started dealing with seizures last year and every fiber of my being wishes I could prevent him from dealing with it but I can’t. I can’t stop them. All I can do is be here for him.

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