No Words

I have no words. As someone who has built her career on her ability to use words effectively and well, this simple statement is both humbling and terrifying. But those emotions are simply reactions to the other emotions that threaten to engulf me. Today, on this Sunday of what has been an eternally long weekend, I am filled with pain and sadness, helplessness and fear, sympathy and empathy, righteousness and anger, fatalism and passion, loneliness and solidarity.

The sign my daughter made and carried on January 29, 2017 at the Boston protest against the immigration ban

This weekend, I’ve struggled to find the words to explain to an eight-year-old how hatred and bigotry can lead to violence and death. To explain why freedom of assembly and freedom of speech is something worth celebrating even when the people who exercise it are hateful and wicked. How we have the right and obligation to stand up against the beliefs of others even as we also defend their right to speak. How defending those rights does not mean that you defend or condone how it turns to violence.

Closer to home, I was twice reminded that I have friends fighting internal battles – of which I’m not always aware – and that they don’t always win. This weekend, I caught a glimpse of the enormity of internal struggles I can’t comprehend.

In the never-ending battle against bigotry and hatred, lately it feels like the “other side” is gaining ground. Meanwhile, there are millions out there trapped in their silent battles, and sometimes, despite love and support, battles are lost.

This weekend reminded me that there are ideals for which we need to be vigilant about fighting. And that while we cannot control the actions of others, we can control how we react to them. For example, a friend chose to remember our lost soul by the joy he brought us. And my daughter recalled that “character” was the measure by which we judge a man, not the color of his skin.

We can raise our voices against violence and bigotry. We can raise our standards for acceptable behavior in society without advocating censorship. We can raise awareness for and devote more funding toward mental health and addiction resources for those fighting their silent battles.

On a smaller scale, we can also choose to remember that “those people” don’t exist, only individuals do. That we can start a conversation assuming we have common ground rather than assuming we don’t. We can show by how we live our lives that these hate-filled rallies don’t define America.

Let’s remember – or create – an America that embraces diversity – of opinion, of race, of lifestyle, of religion – rather than shuns it. An America that believes that supporting others through their struggles isn’t a sign of weakness but of humanity. An America that believes that we have a moral obligation – to the world, to our children, to each other, and to ourselves – to condemn not only the individuals who actively commit violent acts, but also those who silently condone them, to be realistic about the state of our world and aggressively work toward solutions, to fight for an idealistic future even if it’s unattainable. To build an America and a world we want to leave to our children and, failing that, to give them the tools to use and the foundation upon which they can continue the fight.

When words fail, action – and compassion – can take their place.

“Girls Can’t Be Superheroes”

My daughter K is mildly obsessed with superheroes. And while I take full responsibility for having planted the initial seed (and watering it daily with encouragement and the occasional new superhero-themed book or shirt), she’s taken the idea and just run with it.

“K, what do you want to wear today?”

“A superhero shirt, superhero underwear and pants that tie…if we have them, please.”

When we first introduced K to superheroes – your typical Batman, Superman-type fodder – she expressed an interest in them, but it didn’t become a daily undercurrent. And in fact, her enthusiasm was dampened for a bit last fall when a classmate told her that his daddy said, “Girls can’t be superheroes.”

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Balancing Conflicting Messages

K: “Did you see me today in my tumbling class? How I fell off the tall balance beam twice, but I got back on? ‘Cause I’m going to get better at that! Weren’t you proud of me?”

Me: “I did see you! And I was proud of you! Were you proud of yourself?”

K: “I’m always proud of myself.”

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In the Wake of Boston: One Child’s Question

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

Yesterday was the day after here in Boston. I heard someone on NPR describe it as a city-wide feeling of melancholy. To me, it feels like a pervasive quiet permeating the city – a quiet laced with an odd mix of determination, defiance and community layered atop deep, deep sadness. We are a city united not only by mourning, but also by our resolution to persevere against the evil that confronts us. And our country cries and fights with us.

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

Monday, I did what almost everyone I know did. I left work early to find my loved ones. I picked K up from school, and I gave her a hug. I tried to pretend that disaster hadn’t just ripped through my adopted hometown. We played games. We role-played (I was K, and she was “mommy”). And we pretended to be Bat Girl and Wonder Woman fighting off bad guys. Just like every other evening.

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

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K Interlude: Episode 3.4

Interludes from K this week:
1) K sees someone on the street and says, “I think that person is a witch” (woman is wearing all black with a black hoodie that’s up, kind of like the point of a hat).

We pass the woman, K glances back and says, “no she’s not a witch.” I say “what does a witch look like?”

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October 15th

Thanks to my friend Jade for posting this.

For more on my story, read here.

Our Home Isn’t “Broken”

This week, J moved out. We knew it was coming. It’s been more than two years since we agreed to divorce, and it was past time. While it’s a necessary step, and one that in some ways I welcome as the beginning of a new phase in my life, that doesn’t lessen the tinge of sadness that accompanies this inevitability. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who you’ve been so close to for so long – even when you know he’ll be just down the street.

There’s no question that we have an unusual situation. Of course it has certainly been a challenge, and figuring out the best way to acclimate K to it has been the most important part. But I’ve been surprised that the most frustrating aspect of the transition has been dealing with the perceptions of other people.

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