In a series of text messages the other day with one of my best friends in L.A. we landed on the topic of a second whale washing up on the beach within a month, this time a 32-foot female humpback. I was feeling distressed about it and wondering if it was a coincidence or another indicator of bad stuff happening in the ocean?
He said I need to prepare my kids for some ugliness washing up on the beach over the next year or two. My heart sank. California, he thinks, is ground zero and sea lions and other mammals are dying en masse already. But, like most of us, I don’t want to think about things getting worse and furthermore, as a mom, my natural instinct is to shield my kids from ugliness not prepare them for it. He went on to say the oceans are dying off already because of climate change but Fukushima was a tipping point in large scale collapse and that my best bet is to make humor at the end and prepare my children for what lies ahead. My friend tends to be intense and he has no kids, but he’s also smart, thoughtful and like usual, makes a good point… things aren’t all that rosy out there and a parent’s job, in part, if not completely, is to prepare their children for what lies ahead, right?
I found myself going over this idea of preparing my children for what lies ahead when I don’t really know what that is. It’s kind of a daunting task if you think about it. You don’t want to get so heavy on them with reality they feel overwhelmed and hopeless, but you also don’t want their heads buried in the sand thinking all is perfect in the world as long as their hair is right and they can post a good selfie. I know my children need to know the basics of how to learn… they need to be able to educate themselves with good information and they need to know how to make thoughtful choices, but what else will prepare them for what lies ahead?
Some people turn to religion as a guide, but for me that’s never been the case. I thought about where I gather strength to move forward in the face of ugliness and I landed on LOVE. Yep. Love. It’s the only thing that ever really pulls me out of the dumps when I’m faced with ugliness. And that made me feel a little better because I concluded it’s what I already know to do, in addition to providing nurturance, support, security, predictability, focus, engagement and expansion (that’s my academic list of what all children need), make sure my kids know LOVE…that they know they are loved and that they know how to love (themselves, others and the planet). In fact they are fortunate to be surrounded by love not just from me but from our friends and family.
And this is my wish for all of us…to know love and be surrounded by it. It’s the only way I know for sure to prepare for ugliness that lies ahead. Amen.