Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I don't know what to say about Haiti. It's horrifying. And heartbreaking. And whatever the word is beyond heartbreaking. I have watched any number of disasters unfold from afar, as you all have, I'm sure. . . the tsunami, the plane crash a decade ago with that whole little French class on it, Hurricane Katrina, every day of life in Zimbabwe, the events of September 11th. So many more that the sadness can quite literally make your heart heavy. I was even living in D.C. during September of 2001 and that had a profound impact on me that I will probably save for another post.

But something has been different about watching this Haitian crisis unfold.

The difference is now I am a mother.

I see visual after visual of small children bleeding, crying, hurting with blank hungry eyes. It is almost too much to bear. I worry for so many of those children and my thoughts almost immediately go to their mothers. How anguished all those mothers must be or have been during that first tremble of the earth when they instinctively knew something was dreadfully terribly wrong and they wouldn't be able to protect their cubs like it was their god-given nature to do.

I live in a small college town and our years as a community are marked by the arrivals and departures of college students with their backpacks, dorm refrigerators, posters, books, futons and bikes. They come every year with their life's belongings packed to the brim of a Honda or Jeep Cherokee. And every year I have seen them unpacking load after load of stuff and sometimes I have gotten nostalgic for my own college days--both real and imagined. I have been reminiscent and maybe slightly wistful to still be in those college students' shoes and to return to that place of being so carefree and full of the excitement of having every possibility ahead of you. And just to be so daggum young.

Something changed two years ago in the early fall. I remember distinctly that Husband of Mine and I were taking a walk with the kids in August during the college drop-off weekend before school began. And without realizing the subtlety, I saw those parents unloading cars and trying to be cheerful and hugging their kids for just a few seconds too long and I remember getting teary-eyed and thinking, how must that feel to let them go and send them away from you where you can't watch over and make sure they eat their vegetables and wear their seatbelts and you can't hear them laugh everyday or touch their hair.

Or protect them from earthquakes.

I think that was the day that I actually became a parent--two years after giving birth to two children. I saw those students come to campus that August and I related more to their parents than I did to the students themselves.

I see those children in Haiti and I think of their mothers and their fathers. I pray for them.

The difference is now I am a mother.

Viva la Haiti.

Ciao a tutti.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I completely relate to that bittersweet transition we make from identifying as a kid to identifying as a parent. It makes me feel old that I relate more to the American Idol parents than the contestants, but a parent's love and heart break for their kid - be the kid a dreamer, student, or lost soul - is certainly real and shared by mothers the world over.