In the last month, my family moved to a new home.
I remember how hard it was to move to a new city where we didn’t know anyone 10 years ago, and how hard it was to move to our previous house 6 years ago.
It didn’t deter us from wanting to move again, “oh how fun,” we thought. But there was just a little, tiny detail that I forgot that was different this time: Now, we have 3 kids.
This time, moving wasn’t hard, oh no.
It was traumatic.
I battled insomnia, each night when I laid to rest, I punched my imaginary time card, and my shift began. It was such work to try to fall asleep. The hardest part was listening to the rest of my family sleep so freaking soundly – even and especially our infant. I can’t count how many times I hoped for my kids to wake up screaming, or fussing, at least then I would have something to blame terrible sleep on. Sometimes, I would gently prod my wife, hoping she would wake up and I could ask her “what’s wrong?” Maybe then, we could talk about it. Sometimes, I just blatantly woke her up.
I sat, each night and thought about what I was doing to make the world a better place. That’s right, merely functioning in the moment wasn’t enough, I wanted to have a plan, to sort out what I could do to make the world a better place for my kids.
And mind you, I realize I can’t even get my son to put on his shoes to leave the house, so making the world a better place likely only added to my stress level… like kindling to the fire of my insomnia.
THE HIPPY HIPPY TASK: MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Sure, it is pretty hippy to think that we can even make the world a better place, sure there’s part of me that realizes that I don’t even know my neighbors, or the closest grocery store. But, as a parent, these thoughts come to me; I can’t help it. Do they come to you? At 2 AM? Please tell me they do.
Trust me, I don’t think of myself as any great savior, but I feel like I can be a part of change and it starts with my kids, and continues with my life as an educator.
I love life, I love the world we live in, but some things need to change. We have to keep pushing for change. We have to take a clear look at reality. We have to have difficult conversations, with our own kids. Because if we don’t, then we are allowing everything else they are exposed to help form their opinions, (video games, friends, not friends, TV, etc.).
When I first became a parent, I thought teaching my daughter to treat people equally was enough; but now I know it’s not enough. It’s not nearly enough.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS PARENTS?
I think we all would benefit from making a blue print of how we can affect change in our world, and what change we’re wanting to affect, and what trouble we’re willing to go through toward that end.
The start of my blueprint (I will finish eventually finish in place of sleep):
TALKING TO MY KIDS
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about social justice and injustices. As a white family, I feel it’s very important to talk about our the imbalanced power structure that benefits our race far more than any other. I am working toward opening a continued dialogue, learning about trials of the past, helping them to understand that racism is not always blatant in our society. This is a part of creating change. I feel I’ve stood idly by for far too long and worried about how I treated people, instead of how the world at large treats minorities, LGBTQ individuals, and women.
NOT ACCEPTING THE WORLD AS IS
There has been progress in the U.S. Social victories if you will. If my kids and your kids identify as LGBTQ, their lives will be just a little easier than mine would have if I had been gay. There’s more support, same sexes finally have the right to get married. That’s really good, but it’s not even close to enough.
DON’T LIVE IN A BUBBLE
After leaving the newspaper business, I deliberately avoided any current events that stretched beyond my block. But, as a parent, there’s more of a responsibility (as if that’s what parent’s need, even more responsibility) to stay abreast of current events; and then to clue our kids in; in a developmentally appropriate way.
Sometimes it’s hard to see or read about the horrible things happening in our society. But digesting them, working out ways for you to teach lessons to your kids, making them advocates for change, this is how we create change.
So, I know we have hundreds of little battles everyday with kids, I know that it’s stressful to change our household for the better. I know I haven’t slept 8 hours any day in a month, I know I will never move again, I know I will someday forget I ever said that. But we’re all part of a bigger picture, so I ask of all of us, how are we making the world a better place?