I always know where my children are.
They're 4, 2, and 8 months. They're typically within 100 feet from me. But more realistically, they're typically on me: asking to be held or picked up or perched on my lap. My oldest child goes to school but it's a little, beautiful preschool with people I trust. I let my kids play on their own when we're at home, but we have a small home; we're all always within earshot of each other.
I get a little panicked in public sometimes when they're close but maybe for some reason I can't find them in that *exact second.* My heart threatens to jump out of my chest, and I feel weak—all in a matter of milliseconds. But then I see them, and they were never far in the first place, and all is well again. We still go on adventures and we go to the store, and do the things we need to—but sometimes I still feel knots in my stomach; worrying, watching.
But I have never had to actually worry about being separated from my children. In fact, I've never even been away from them for more than two nights. And that was by choice, for a trip.
If I'm being honest with you, I know in my heart that I've been avoiding the news of the separated immigrant parents and children. I have seen bits of headlines on my newsfeed, and I've quickly scrolled past. I knew something was going on, and I averted my eyes. My heart often feels so raw, my nerves so fried from the everyday worries of motherhood, I didn't think I could read about this pain.
But tonight I did. And I feel sick and so, so sad.
And I know why I was scared of reading the news. I can't stop picturing my sensitive 2-year-old in particular—in a shelter, crying for me, wondering what the heck was going on. Like the children who have been separated from their parents are likely doing right this second. I know there would be a look of terror in my baby's eyes. I know she'd be anxiously scratching at her skin. I know she'd probably cry so hard she'd puke. Or she wouldn't be able to breathe. She would feel so alone, so confused—so completely frightened.
And I would be a wreck. What would I do? How would I get to her? Would I ever see her again? How? How would I fix this? How would I be able to even function?
I'm lucky that my 2-year-old has not been ripped from my arms and put into a cage. But other parents are not so lucky. Other parents are living a real life nightmare as I type this.
Putting yourself in someone else's shoes who is experiencing pain, discrimination or pure evil is not easy. Because we're human; we will feel some of that, too. And that's scary. But maybe that's okay, to feel a little of their pain. Because maybe that will pull more empathy out of us. Maybe it'll inspire action and change. Maybe it'll force the world to love one another more deeply.
I'm still confused about how to help. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. It's so overwhelming. But I want to. And I'll figure out how I can do my part.
But for now, this second, they have my heart.
And tonight, I'll pray to God my children will always stay safe. And I'll pray to God that these families will find each other. And tomorrow morning when my three babies wake up, they will have me—all of me. And I'll be able to hold them in my arms. And I'll try not to get caught up in the chaos of the day and take that seemingly simple fact for granted.