Parenting in the age of Trump, Twitter and total chaos – Chicago Tribune
I can’t be the only one finding it tricky to parent during all of this.
Logistically, emotionally, it feels next to impossible to tune out allegations that your president revealed highly classified information to Russia and focus on, say, second-grade spelling words.
And that was just Monday. Of this week.
Every day feels like the dawn of a whole new level of chaos that our psyches aren’t capable of processing, but our culture is perfectly suited for exploiting: Check Twitter! Check it again! What are people saying on Facebook! Oh, come ON, friend from college, you know that half-baked … wait, the White House said what? I wonder how Breitbart is playing — oh, there’s a link. Wait, my favorite thought leader has thoughts. Ack! I haven’t checked Twitter in four minutes! What if there are updates!
If I were alive in 1973, I probably would’ve been glued to the televised Watergate hearings, which also began in May. May, people! Do you know where my attention needs to be in May? The end-of-the-year school book fair! The end-of-the-year school fundraising gala! The end-of-the-year school fine arts night! The end-of-the-year zoo field trip! Little league! Why am I yelling!
Here’s the thing. Beyond the distractions that keep us around-the-clock informed and around-the-clock maniacal, there is the quieter, darker, nagging question of what even matters right now.
I see the jokes. My friends and I make them too. “Let’s grab brunch this weekend! If the thermonuclear rains haven’t started, that is!” Lol.
But we’re wondering, a whole lot of us, what our kids will inherit. If the president tears up protection of our national monuments. If he’s successful at rolling back clean air and water protections. If he backs out of climate talks. If he keeps flirting with nuclear war.
If, if, if. It’s hard to concentrate on little league.
I spent Sunday in a prairie. My kids and I went to see my mom for Mother’s Day and we helped my dad plant a tree in remembrance of his mom, my grandma. My parents serve as stewards for a 9-acre prairie next to their house, and we placed the tree at the top of a small slope, back a ways from the walking path. My dad went back later to place a small plaque.
It was a sweet moment, and it has built-in permanence, given that the tree, with proper care, will remain and grow for decades to come. Beyond our time here, really.
And it was a lovely reminder of what matters: all of it. The spelling words, the book fair, little league, dinner. They’re temporary responsibilities, but they hold the moments that grow strong roots. Roots that will hold us up, hold our kids up, when chaos swirls and whips around us.
I’m going to try to remember that when I’m tempted to remain glued to Twitter for the latest, the pithiest, the knowing-est.
And I’m going to cut myself a break when I stumble and get distracted. And maybe we could give each other breaks too.
My friend Megan posted a 2014 essay from Brain, Child magazine the other day. In it, writer Aubrey Hirsch explains why she refuses to enlist in the “mommy wars,” electing to remain a pacifist and a conscientious objector.
“To me, criticizing another mother for letting her kid cry or not letting her kid cry, for breastfeeding too briefly or too long or not at all, for putting her kid in time out, letting him eat this, dressing her in that or birthing in a way that would have made me uncomfortable — to do any of these things would be like critiquing someone for her hair moving out of place while she was being eaten by wolves.
“That is not what I want to do. I want to say, ‘Hey, Mama! You looked like a bad— b—- taking on those wolves!’ And ‘Aren’t these wolves crazy?!’ And ‘Tell me how you’re surviving these wolf attacks.’ And then I want to hug her, and tell her she’s doing amazing, and that I’m proud of her.
“Because I am,” she continued. “I’m proud of all of us.”
Me too. We’re trying. We’re feeling our way through this tangle of politics and parenting and please-don’t-do-anything-too-crazy-how-is-it-only-Monday.
This too shall pass. Maybe. We’ll see. For now, let’s work on some spelling words. And strong roots. We’re going to need them.