When I brought my newborn baby son home from the hospital we had a broken TV; it took at least 30 minutes to warm up. I was sleeping out on the futon in the living room of our tiny one bedroom apartment and I was leaving the television on all night, muted, so that when the baby woke to be fed I could sit up to nurse him. I needed something to keep me awake because I was so afraid of falling asleep and dropping him.
There were two news stories that played over and over again all night on the one channel (no cable) that stayed on the air twenty-four hours. They were horrific and they had video attached. For several nights I’d wake up to these images, nurse to them, tuck my baby back to sleep.
I can still see those videos, they color my memories of my son’s first week of life. They were dreaded companions to me learning to be a mother, shaping my anxieties in particular ways.
There is bad news lately. There is often bad news but some days it’s more present than others. If your Facebook feed looks like mine, there is a lot of anguish mixed in with the day-to-day updates. There’s a lot of well founded outrage and calls to action. There’s a lot of tension and fear (and hope but fear mixed in with the hope).
I am thinking of the parents today, who have had enough of bad news.
I’m thinking of the parents whose hearts are still brand new, who haven’t learned how to filter all the terrible things that are in the world (the special brand of denial that’s necessary to the day-to-day work of being a parent).
I’m thinking of the parents whose hurts are echoed in the hurts they read about and see. The ones who live those hurts daily and who need space to heal from them.
There are times when we have the strength to march in unity and there are times when we need to step away and care for ourselves and our loved ones. Sometimes the news, it’s just too close to home. We cannot separate ourselves (or our children) from it. We need space to gather our resources, to breathe, to make a decision about how we will act.
It’s OK to turn off the news, to turn off Facebook.
Taking a break is not the same thing as running away.
Knowing your limits is not selfish.
My thoughts are with those of you who are struggling these days.