My husband Sam and I begin our mornings listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” scrolling our feeds for the day’s news and using each other as sounding boards to digest the mostly unbearable heaviness of our hurting world. Surely it has always been this way, but it is more recently that I really feel it.
Maybe this is because aging calls us to be less egocentric or because we’re inundated with information via social media or because ticking ovaries heighten an innate awareness of suffering. Whatever the reason, I know Sam and I aren’t the only ones battling feelings of hopelessness. We’re not the only ones struggling to find the line between activism and self-preservation.
Less than a week after my 29th birthday, our strength to overcome those feelings took on new meaning when two blue lines appeared on a white plastic stick. I was pregnant. Nothing could take away the sense of wholeness I felt in that moment; I’ve always known motherhood was my higher calling (I’ve kept a journal of baby names since I was 13, “just in case”).
Is it cruel to bring an innocent human being into this mess, knowing that we ourselves can hardly face it?
Sitting on the edge of the bathtub — but really standing on the precipice of a new reality — my tears of elation quickly turned to tears of apprehension. Is it cruel to bring an innocent human being into this mess, knowing that we ourselves can hardly face it? Will the world treat our baby kindly?
I cried for our child, for myself and for my husband — whom, truth be told, is even more sensitive to these issues than I am. Understanding our privilege as white, middle-class, fairly educated people, I cried for the millions of mothers of color and mothers in poverty and mothers without partners or good health whose fear I know far surpasses my own.
But as quickly as those apprehensive tears came, fortitude washed over me. No one ever said motherhood was easy, and this job, I remembered, was made for me. Having this child is my activism.
What the world needs most are good humans. Raising our daughter to be compassionate, brave and empowered, to have difficult conversations and ask hard questions, to see color and celebrate differences, to use her voice courageously, to be boldly herself, is an act of resistance.
We still listen to NPR every morning, but now instead of feeling paralyzed and despondent, I’m invigorated and determined. Less than three months away from meeting our daughter, I am deeply aware of my responsibility to lead by example. I am inspired to walk my walk and to be active in creating the world I want for her. This is my hope for all of us on this journey.