Being a parent is a tough business. We are raising kids in a hard world, and somehow we need to guide them through it safely. They need to be taught the dangers that are out there without ruining their bubble of innocence. They need to learn how to help those around them without letting others take advantage of them. We want them to be independent, but not hesitate to come to us when they need help. And there are so many things that can go wrong. In light of a few recent events, I have been thinking a lot of our responses to parents who had their worst nightmares realized.
A kid gets snatched by an alligator in Florida, and our response as a nation is to jump the parents’ case. They let their kid go in the water! Who lets their kid do that? Umm, me? Now if I knew there were alligators in the water I probably wouldn’t, but the parents were from Nebraska, maybe they didn’t. It’s easy to see in retrospect how a situation could have been avoided, but let’s be honest- which of us hasn’t at one point had a heart stopping experience that could have ended very differently.
Mine happened this week. In the middle of thinking over all of these things, and how our attitude towards others parents needs to change, I had my own near disaster. Two of my girls were playing in our backyard. One moment they were there, and the next- they were gone. I went out to get them, and the gate was open leading to the front yard. My heart stopped. My palms went clammy. We searched everywhere and had no idea where they might have gone. You never dream of reporting your own child as missing (that only happens to parents who aren’t mindful of their kids), yet that’s exactly where I was. At that moment Daddy found them walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand. They had decided to take a walk, had gone about three houses down and turned around to come back. I honestly still can’t think about it without lurching inside at what might have happened. Our story ended well, but what if it had gone differently? How easily could it have ended much more tragically? And what would we have been? Extra-negligent parents? No. Devastated parents who had made a mistake that would never go away.
This is why we need each other. We need to back each other, support each other, and be there for each other. Parenting is a wild, sometimes scary, ride. Let’s not forget to think of what the parent might be going through the next time a story makes national headlines. Let’s be their village, even if we don’t know them. After all, what would we want the world to look on and say if it was our heart that was breaking?