One of my favorite parenting quotes comes from author Elizabeth Stone. She wrote, “Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
When our children finally leave the nest, there are so many things we worry about as parents as we allow our hearts to wander off into the world. Is she working hard? Is she eating right? Does she like where she is living? Does she have enough money? Does she have good people around her? Is she happy?
These are not that different from the things our parents worried about. But, now, we have to add one thing to our list that our parents never thought about: Terrorism.
I’m sure terrorism was the last thing on the minds of the parents of the young people who were dancing and hanging out with friends last weekend at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Drunk driving, for example, is probably something more common that parents of 20-somethings worry about. But terrorism? Not on your life.
Yet, unlike drunk driving, which is very preventable, terrorism is not something a citizen in a free country can predict, prepare for or prevent. So, the question becomes, how do we talk to our children about it? Do we tell them never to go to a public place with lots of people - a concert, a sporting event, a mall?
In my mind, doing that means giving up on life. Being afraid to do things and go places means that we stop living. I won’t ever do that, and I won’t advise my children to do that. In fact, what I will tell them is that there are no guarantees in life. It can be shorter than we expect. So, we should live fully. Go, do, experience all you can in the time you are given.
Do I worry about what kind of world my children will live in someday? Absolutely. Our parents did too. But, somehow we survived and adapted to our changing world. Our children will too. For now, I just tell them I love them at every opportunity.
When they walk out the door, little pieces of my heart leave with them, but that’s what we all signed up for …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Monday.