Tuesday, 11 March 2014

I heard the news today, oh boy

In my life PC (Pre-Children) I watched the 5pm, 6pm and 7pm news. Upon arriving at work my first order of business after checking my emails was to read the day’s news online. I felt compelled to be ‘in the know’ not only because what was happening around the world or at home could at times impact on how my day at work could pan out but also because I didn’t want to be the one admitting they were unaware of the current state of the world. To be honest domestic politics or foreign affairs held little if no interest to me. I used to fake knowledge of international relations, secretly hoping no-one would throw any in-depth questions my way. I know some people might relish having a job like mine which would often change at the whim of a new government initiative or in response to an incident overseas but honestly over the years my ability to feign enthusiasm in this “fluid environment” was crumbling. Putting it bluntly, I just couldn’t give a shit (not that I would ever want to admit that to my colleagues, or even to myself for that matter).
Morning cloud blanket
Now after two and a half years of maternity leave my exposure to the day’s headlines is limited, basically if it’s not showing on ABC for Kids then I didn’t hear about it. It did take a while for me to let go of the ‘need to know’ what was happening in the world outside the four walls of our house but I can honestly say I now feel freer and less stressed by not having to be across every goings-on. Of course this is also relative to my current-role and the social situations I find myself in, e.g. there are not many discussions on the asylum-seekers' situation at Playgroup! (Although I am sure the girls could hold a lively discussion on the topic if required).
My little family has become my world with the daily top stories usually revolving around the violent overthrow of cereal bowls, ownership disputes over a Peppa Pig phone and top-level talks to solve a sleeping crisis.  When I actually gained the courage to admit the fact that I felt happiest being cut off from the harshness of the outside world to husband, he replied, “That’s no way to live”. Naturally part of me agrees and my pre-kids self does cringe at hearing myself proclaim such a statement.  Of course I don’t live in a bubble and with our 24/7 news cycle there is no avoiding most of it but for me the news I gain from the bulletins between my nightly TV viewing and snippets from the radio are really enough for me.
Cuddles before choking each other
My desire to focus more on the ongoing toddler/vegetable war and less on the troubles in Crimea are not only fuelled by a lack of energy on my part but also because my sensitivities to any sad story or tragic event has quadrupled since having kids of my own. Each day there seems to be a headline involving a tragic toddler incident or a family being ripped apart and hearing these stories cuts me to the core. Before kids I can honestly say I was pretty immune to these kinds of headlines, but now I can no longer take it all with a grain of salt. Nowadays these tragedies stay with me. My thoughts go straight to my own kin, my heart aches for the victims and I feel it in the pit of my stomach. I immediately think of how I would cope with such heartbreak and then quickly stop myself before I sink deeper into sadness. I double-check on the kids before I go to bed, laying my hand on their chests, breathing in their sweetness, fighting the urge to want to squeeze them tight and never leave the relative safe confines of our home again.
Morning sunlight
This reaction although in part a natural reflex of a protective parent is not healthy when you are at the point of wanting to avoid the world around you. I do realise that I cannot prepare my kids properly for the world which they will inherit without taking an interest in it. That although the majority of the news stories that run across our screen will have little direct impact on my family they do serve as a reminder. A reminder that the world and life in general is fragile and unpredictable. I can only hope and pray that my own children will not have to experience the level of hardship that we hear of too often in the news. But I am also acutely aware that there will be a time when the reach of my arms will no longer be enough to protect them.
The saying you “wear your heart on your sleeve” is no truer than when you have kids. It opens a floodgate of emotions that on one hand allows you to have unlimited and unconditional love for your little ones; a depth of which you have not known before, but it also leaves you wholly open to heartache and to worries that if not kept in check can sometimes take hold of you. At the moment my babies are just starting out in the world and for a person that up until this point has probably looked at life with a ‘glass half empty’ attitude (a “realist” I liked to describe myself as!) I am keenly aware that this is not the kind of outlook I want to encourage in my children.
Therefore for this moment in time, to help foster the imperative that I look upon this world with a more positive view I may need to continue to live in the dark when it comes to the ‘bigger issues’ facing those around us. There is no need for my children to know the harsh realities of life at their age. My job is to protect them from that. Childhood is so fleeting and yet so instrumental in influencing the adults they will become that sometimes the responsibility is overwhelming.  So right now I am ok with being blissfully ignorant and content to concern myself only with the battles that are waged by my two toddlers, the rest of the world will just have to wait.
Do you agree? Do you find it hard to watch the day's headlines now that you have kids?



  1. I know exactly what you mean... Fear and dread seem to be quicker to the rise to the surface these days and I can no longer let go of the worry that bad things can't happen to me. I also can't watch critically acclaimed movies with sad/depressing themes anymore. I prefer the shallow, happy ending ones. But I suppose that's part of being an adult. If ignorance is bliss, then you may as well embrace it because what you think about has the power to shape your life.

    1. I am sure its a phase all parents go through, I think when you are dealing with the complexities and stress of raising kids sometimes knowing all the 'bad' things becomes too much. I agree I go straight for the mindless action or comedy movies these days too!


Thanks for your comments!