I had a few topics I was considering writing about this week – a few things that have been on my mind and a few funny stories. When I sat down to write, however, there was nothing there. No words. No ideas. No thoughts. For the first time in the almost two years that I’ve been writing these blogs, I was truly speechless.
What happened? Friday happened.
It hit me like I’m sure it hit all of you. Even tonight as I watch those beautiful little faces flashing on the screen, my eyes well-up with tears. How can I write about my four year old’s birthday party or crazy questions about where babies come from when there are parents just south of the border experiencing the unthinkable?
I tried. I tried because the world hasn’t stopped. Our kids are blissfully unaware and the day to day activities in our house didn’t change this weekend. We laughed, we celebrated a birthday with friends and we hit the stores to happily finish up some Christmas shopping. Mommy and Daddy were having a few more quiet conversations than usual and maybe the kids noticed us watching them with an even more grateful, patient and loving eye, but to them, nothing was different.
But things need to be different. Not in their little daily lives, but in our lives and in society in general. In times like these when we all feel completely helpless, there are always things we can do to help. We need to remember though that what works for one family won’t work for another. Our kids have different needs and we all have different means. With that being said, even though we are hundreds of miles away, there are always things we can do. We can make more of an effort to teach our kids about empathy. We can get them involved in the community and teach them the importance of giving and helping others in need. We can express our thoughts on gun control and we can also start supporting local mental health organizations and programs through volunteer time and donations. Programs like the Healthy Minds Cooperative and Kids Help Phone do all kinds of work locally to help people and families in need and can always use help and support.
In no way am I saying that helping in these ways will stop tragedies like Friday’s. What I am saying is that I believe that the sum total of all of us doing something small in our lives to make a change, can definitely have an impact. We need to think differently. We need to challenge ourselves. Is there one little thing we can do –even if it feels insignificant in the grand scheme– to have a more positive impact on our kids and our community in general? No one will make change for us. It really is up to us. And as the parents, relatives and friends of the next generation of teens and young adults, our time is now.
The very first time I was published was in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book about September 11th. I ended my article in that publication with the very same line I’m going to end this one with – “the smallest gestures clumped together and piled on top of each other can make a world of difference.”