Monday, November 7, 2016

Parenthood: Week 177 – Hope In The Park

It was the late afternoon and the unusually warm fall weather made me feel both refreshed from the wind and warmed by the rays of the setting sun.

Ollie jumped out of the stroller and ran towards the slides. He knows this park well.  The play area has different playground equipment for different ages and it’s suited for little ones who can barely walk, all the way up to teenagers.

I looked around the park and saw a woman in a hijab with her husband chasing around their school-aged kids. A group of older boys wearing Yakamas on their heads with Tzitzit coming down from their shirts chased each other nearby while their parents sat on a bench and enjoying the sounds of each other’s laughter. A blonde girl, dressed in a flower-printed summer dress twirled around, watcher her skirt extend up giggling as she became dizzy and fell over.

The other parents traded pleasantries as Ollie and I walked by and there was a calm feeling of peace in that park as we shared the space and the time together.

When you become a parent, you start to view the world differently. Certain things, like going out to bars, don’t hold as much meaning while other things like the cuteness of baby socks make you sentimental. You become less tolerant of people being unjust when you see the potential for this harm on your own child. However, you also start seeing and experiencing special things that we share as human beings.

It’s in the common experiences of childbirth and parenthoods, but it’s also in the places that our children take us. In libraries, parks and zoos, there is rarely strife. Instead what you see in these places, are people, all kinds of people sharing time with each other, co-existing, and agreeing to respect this space and time.

We talk about division and polarization in our country. We see footage of people screaming at political rallies and we’ve suffered at a country listening to a political candidate tap into people’s deepest fears and prejudice.s  One of the reasons that hasn’t gotten to me is that I don’t see any of this when we take Ollie places. I don’t see this at museums, I don’t see this at Ollie’s school and I don’t see it at the grocery store.

How we view our government is a reflection of how we view ourselves. If our insecurities lie in our bonuses that only serve to heighten a level of privilege, than we see the worst in our politicians as we are not ready to see this dark part of ourselves. However, if we choose to see the world through the experiences, hopes and feelings of our children, we will see hope in politicians and our government. This isn’t blind ignorance. This is a choice to believe in our politicians as we believe in ourselves and our children.

Parenthood is all about hope and optimism. If you don’t believe that your child’s fever will break or that your baby tomorrow night will actually sleep and not keep you up all night, you’re not going to make it as a parent. Luckily, there are moments like the park yesterday when I see Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive and well. It is these moments that fill us with hope.

Look at the world. If you want to find pessimism and selfishness, well, you’ll find it, but if you want something to believe in, look at our children.

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