She deserves better.
My daughter and I have a fairly set evening routine. She takes a bath and gets dressed. I brush her hair as she brushes her teeth, and then we read stories. I tuck her in, give her hugs, kisses, head butts, and waves, and then I say “goodnight.”
I stand in her doorway and yell, “I love you. Sweet dreams.”
Of course, she echoes the sentiment. She says, “I love you, too. Sweet dreams; have fun.” And then she drifts off as I walk away.
She slips into a slumber full of color, excitement, adventure, and hope. But while she dreams of knights and princesses, castles, kittens, The Lion Guard, and Paw Patrol, I dream of terrible things. Horrible things.
My 33-year-old mind focuses on horrendous and nightmarish things.
When I was her age, I played with imaginary friends — Flopsy and Mopsy. I found joy in leaf piles, dirt mounds, puddles, and on hills, and I dreamed the tooth fairy was real, Santa was real, and Mickey came over for my birthday.
But now? Now when I close my eyes I see pain. I feel pain. And my thoughts come more quickly than CNN’s ever-changing headlines.
I am consumed by darkness, violence, death, and destruction. I lay in bed and worry about my daughter’s death and destruction.
I know this seems awful. I know this sounds awful, and the truth is it is awful. These thoughts are sick and morbid. But as an anxious person — and, now, an anxious mom — these thoughts are inescapable. They are unavoidable and they've become par for the parenting course. Especially now. Especially today.
You see, anxious or not, we live in a difficult time. A fragile time. A delicate — and dangerous — time. A time when people are hurt. Children are hurt. When everyday, people die. Children die.
Of course, this has been “the way of the world” since life began, since the human race began. But today, things are different. Humanity is different and the way of our world is different.
Instead of focusing on classwork and homework, friendships and simple questions like “How was your day,?” dinnertime conversations have become darker. Many parents talk to their children about what to do in an active shooter situation. Where to go. How to hide.
Many families aren’t just making flood plans or fire escape plans, they're making bug-out bags and radiation plans — i.e., figuring out what to do when we begin the next (and probably nuclear) war. And that is because as a culture, we've never been more divided. As a country, we've never been more divided — because have a President who instills fear in us, who stokes a terrible and dangerous fire.
You see, President Trump has told us Mexicans are bad. He has told us African Americans are bad and he reminds us — constantly — Muslims are “our enemy.” The media is “our enemy,” He's made it clear that America is (and should) come first and to hell with any nation that stands in our way.
Unfortunately, while brazen, Trump’s rhetoric is bullsh*t because no country is truly self-sufficient. We cannot be self-sufficient, and all Trump has done with his words is drive a wedge between us and our allies.
The world is laughing, and waiting, for the war he will start while I sit here crying and worrying about death, mass destruction, and whether or not my daughter will live to see her fifth birthday.
Make no mistake: I know this sounds extreme, and maybe it is. (Anxiety is a bitch.) But every day I read headlines which scare me. I watch news stories which terrify me, and then I listen to our President speak, and he tells me to be afraid.
He reminds me I am not afraid enough.
I wonder when the war will begin, wen the nukes will be launched. I wonder when our country, our citizens, and our civilians will be attacked. When my daughter’s city or neighborhood, or school will be attacked, and then I cry.
Through a closed throat and clenched teeth, I cry because this is what her future looks like.
This is what our new "great" America looks like.
I want better. My daughter deserves better.