We Can’t Give Up Now

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Lately, since our baby’s most recent hospitalization, a few people have said to me, “You didn’t sign up for this”. But really, in my mind, I did. Like anyone who commits to raising a child, we sign up for love, and this is what love looks like sometimes. Love can be a string of hours and days that we thought we would never have to encounter, and yet we do. We have to get up and get to loving, because that’s what’s called for. Sometimes that duty, that intensity—and if I’m honest with you, that sense of being trapped inside of it, it invokes a sort of nighttime feeling, even in the day.

There are times when I feel hopeless.

Today, after this devastating presidential election, I know I am not alone in that exhaustion and uncertainty.

We have to find the love, the love that pushes us forward. And then turn that love into action. To advocate for peaceful times, without hate and bigotry. To work together towards the moment when our daughters, and people of all genders, are treated respectfully with equal opportunities. We will stand up to protect individuals of all races, religions and abilities; we will fight for high-level human rights and common decency.

I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, but I don’t want us to give up on humanity.

And yes, there are just moments when I want to go around talking about how I can’t believe that that many people voted for a bigot.

In our little family, things have been tough. Our baby is, thankfully, home from the hospital, but still sick. She does fine during the day but then at night she just gets going with these crazy coughing jags. Sometimes every hour, all night long. Can’t stop hacking, then the vomiting starts up. I have to sit on the floor and hold her in the night when she throws up—it’s too precarious to get to the rocking chair with the IV pole and the tubes because the pump is plugged into the wall. Plus the light in her room broke and, nope, we haven’t yet found the time to replace it.

This cough is so treacherous and dramatic, it’s like she’s a character in a play. Like some musical that takes place in the 1930’s. If I saw this cough being performed on stage I’d probably be like, yeah, that’s a little unrealistic. Heavy handed. No one coughs that hard. But, right now, my girl does.

And, of course, we’ve all got this bad bug now—I’ve been ill for no less than a month, because I haven’t had a full easy night’s sleep since approximately 2015.

Cedar and I are officially worn down. I don’t want to be miserable, and this past month has been pretty much just that, with some bright moments interspersed throughout (our baby’s dance moves, etc.).

I can be in the thick of all kinds of heavy, existential muck and then, if someone dances, I remember why we do this.

So, more of that. More brightness. This whole house needs it. And now, there are so many of us who are afraid of what will come next. We all need to find ways to bring the brightness back.

I have my things, the things I do to cheer myself up, to nurture the hope. Because I can’t go down. And you, whoever you are, we need you, too.

The most hope producing thing for me right now: I scoop those babies of mine in my arms, and tell them I love them, probably even too often.

We have to find each other and see each other through this. We have to be kind, no matter what. Also, we can’t let ourselves get demoralized. Or, at the very least, we’ll take turns with that, like Cedar and I do at our house. We can’t all go down at once into the abyss of catastrophic thinking.

And, when possible, let’s be as authentic as we can muster.

In this writing, I’ve decided to shift from using pseudonyms for my children. I’m just going to use A. and E.—the first initials of their names. So E. is our almost 18 month old and A. is our preschooler, which I know, I know, might be confusing. Until we all get used to it. I want this writing to be as real as possible, and it seems like it reads like a story when I use those other names. It keeps on bothering me, and so, I’ve got to remedy it.

I thought it was too late to change it, and then on a sort of harried but altogether healing walk we had last week, my friend Kate said to me, “I don’t think it’s really ever too late.” And that approach, in a universal way, beyond this very small decision about what names to use, it really makes sense to me.

Because, I think, it’s not too late for any us.

It’s not ever too late to make things more of what we want them to be. Let’s make our sleepless nights, our hardships, our unknown futures worth something. Let’s feel miserable together—this is grief, after all, and yet not have that be a stopping point.

We’ve got a world to protect, children to look after. Hopefully, many more generations. Let’s stay with love.