Once upon a time I was an NPR news junkie.
I'd listen in my car, at my desk, in the kitchen.
And then I had a baby.
And I kept listening.
And then my baby became a very bright, active, verbal toddler.
And I kept listening.
And then one day I turned on the radio as I so often did, with my two-year old in the room, quietly eating lunch at the table.
As I pushed the power button on the stereo one gruesome sentence from the war in Iraq hung in the air like black smoke around my child and me.
My finger quickly pushed the power button again, but that sentence remained. Hanging there.
I never turned the radio on again.
: : :
I realized in that moment that one important job I have as a parent is to protect my child from things too big and too dark for him to comprehend.
I would not invite those stories into his dreams.
And there was an unexpected benefit that came with this change. I was better for turning off the loop of bad news that I had been marinading in for so many years.
The shadows I had invited into my own world also lessened when I stopped steeping in so much tragic news. My worrying reduced. My anxiety reduced. My light shined a bit brighter.
I saw fewer monsters in shadowy corners than I had in all of my life.
Because you see, I am extremely empathetic and sensitive. (Some might say "to a fault" but I won't go that far. Because often our curse is also our gift.) Hearing bad news can send me into a spiral I can't lift out of for hours or even days. It did then, it does now.
I am not desensitized to the news. I never will be. I never could be.
In fact, I don't want to be. But that means I must be mindful to what I invite in.
And while I have since organized my life to seek my news mindfully, sometimes the tragic stories slip in that I just can't shake off.
It's been that way this week.
The news crept into my life and I laid awake at night, worrying and imagining the incomprehensible horror and pain that seems to touch every corner of the world.
Sometimes it seems like it's everywhere, doesn't it?
And after spending two days mired once more in anxiety and sadness, I chose to snap myself out of it. Because fixating on what is wrong doesn't help anyone.
So I shifted my focus.
Because there is goodness all around us.
(And yes, there are terrible stories too.)
But I believe the good exponentially outweighs the bad. And I will focus on all that is right and good. Around the world and right here in my own backyard.
The mist in the hills, the flowers on the roadsides, the food on our table.
And the children.
The ones entrusted to me to love and nurture and guide.
Because I can not end the suffering that exists in this world. I can not save everyone.
But as a person who loves a child I do have the power to nurture children who become healthy, kind, gentle, patient, strong adults.
I can do that. And that's the most measurable positive change for this world that I could ever imagine creating.
: : :
So today I am recommitting myself to being the parent I want to be.
The healthy, kind, gentle, patient, strong adult that I am.
While I can not end all suffering, I do have the power to nurture goodness in the world.
"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children." ~ Marianne Williamson
Yes. I can do that. And so can you.
Want more parenting inspiration? My "More Peaceful Parenting" series is here.
Originally published in 2013.