The world is big

My three year old talks about the world he will live in when he’s “Big”. Big people drive cars. Big people don’t go to school. Big people have jobs like being a garbage colepter or blowing up balloons or digging big holes or filling cups with water. Big people can go to the park whenever they like. Big people don’t have to eat their dinner. Big people go out when it’s dark. Big people go to bed whenever they want.

There is a utopia in his mind of what life will be like when he is an adult. He cannot wait to be out in that big world when he’s Big.

But I can wait.

I am scared. I see the news and I’m scared.

I’m scared of how big the world is.

I don’t know how to parent in a world that is so big. A world that is so scary.

I struggle with the small stuff – how do I get him to eat his dinner? How do I get him to stop running off?

There’s the stuff you think is bigger but it’s not – how do you teach patience? Resilience?

The big stuff, the biggest stuff, is this – how do you protect them and protect others?

I know more kindness, more love, less entitlement, less hate is what we’re told. And those words ring hollow sometimes. I try to take comfort from them but it’s so hard. How do we rise above slogans?

What can we as mothers do when the world is hurting? What can we as mothers of boys do about the fact that so much of the violence in this world is perpetrated by men in a culture of toxic and fragile masculinity?

This is not a post where there is an answer. It’s not a post that ends with a cathartic laugh.

There’s no joyous – Me too!

There’s no snark here.

It’s a call. Of some kind.

To make a world where all of our children are safe and all of our children keep others safe. I’m sure that’s what we need for this big, big world.

We need a big heart for this big world.

I want to pledge now that I will parent knowing my child is going into this big world and he will have choices – choices to harm and hurt or to walk gently and powerfully with hope in his heart and love for others. I will parent knowing he is going into a world with your children too, that they need love and protection and respect – they need to be kept safe as I hope my son will be kept safe too.

I pledge to always hold your children in my heart too. To teach my children about consent, respect, and unity. To teach them about their privilege and how that fits with their place in the world. I pledge to parent them with peace and in kindness in the hopes that as they grow they treat others with peace and kindness.

I know I won’t always get the small stuff right. But I’ll try so hard to get the big stuff right. And in the face of so much brokenness, so much breath-taking sadness – What else can we do?

What else can we do except say – not here. Not my home. Not my children.

I will pledge to love not only my children but all children. I will pledge to make my home a home for all. I will pledge to do something that brings words to life and into action.

Keep our children safe and keep the world safe.

What else can we do when the world is so big?


4 Comments on “The world is big

  1. Yes, you’re right, and I HEAR you, mama.
    The world is too big and scary, and our children will inherit this world.
    But like you also said, we can teach our children to make their little corner of it a brighter place, by doing what we can to love ALL children, and try and make sure our children know that just as THEY are precious, so too are all the other children.
    It’s the big stuff, like that that is most important to get right. And it doesn’t happen in just one heart to heart talk but over years and years of little everyday choices and actions. By the way we respond kindly and speak kindly to other children and mamas, to how we require respect and kindness from them towards others, like it’s a given. How generosity is just what we do, sharing what we have. Responding in small ways however we can to the things we see on the news.
    Parenting in the crazy crazy world is so so hard these days.
    What makes it more hopeful and less overwhelming is knowing that you’re in your small corner doing what you can, just as I am in my small corner doing what I can.

    Emily, my kids sometimes blow me away with their empathy and compassion. They all wept at the news about little Moko. They all get outraged at the idea of families sleeping in cars. They hate bullying and meanness and call out their dad and me if they catch us “stereotyping”. At Christmas they want to find people to bless who don’t have what we have. We’ve been working on this for so many years, raising kids who are kind and generous and strong and brave.
    I see glimpses of the amazing people they are becoming, when they’re not driving me nuts doing daft things like swinging in doorframes and doing somersaults on the bed.
    (They are 13, 11 and 8).
    We’re with you, in our small corner.
    Love from your fellow mama-sister in Auckland

  2. Thanks for writing this Emily, well-put as always. I try to meditate on similar things these days when I contemplate how to be a good father to my boys (both still very little at eight months now with the BIG world ahead of them), and reading this helps. We pledge to join in and try to do our part too!

  3. Dear Emily

    I often have these worries too. But lately I decided to try not to give in to fear, and to remember that so much of what we see and hear is also a product of our very distorted news media. So many good things that happen simply go unrecorded / un-publicised.

    So instead I am re-committing to trying to be the change I would like to see in the world, through myself and how I am in relationship with others, including my children.

    Here is a little piece I read recently I thought you and others may like:

    Take care and never forget that through your blog and your associated work as well as your marvellous parenting you are doing so much for so many.

  4. Love this post Emily. My current mantra which I repeat to my little boys almost everyday is: in this house we are kind and we are gentle. May we raise kind, gentle loving and compassionate men who are a gift to thos world xo