The world doesn’t make sense right now. Maybe it never did. The world is scary and loud. Watching the news feels surreal. Except this isn’t a made-up story or historical fiction. This is real life and it is terrifying. When our children aren't safe in school, nowhere feels safe. We are scare and angry and heartbroken.

Related: Mom of Uvalde survivor: ‘I do not want my son to go to school in America anymore’ 

As an empath, I often get overwhelmed by the brutal and the beautiful in the world. As a big-feeling, passionate mom, seeing the images of the little children whose lives were lost in Uvalde, Texas or the moms desperately trying to protect their babies in Ukraine, makes my hands tremble and my heart ache. 

The world is terrifying and our hearts are broken all over again.

Another school shooting. A global pandemic. A war raging in Ukraine. It all seems incomprehensible and I sometimes have trouble making sense of it all. The world is scary. In fact, it's downright terrifying. I feel confused and overwhelmed. Truth be told, sometimes it feels too big and too scary that I feel almost numb to it all. And then I feel guilty for the privilege of being able to feel that emotion in the first place. Rinse and repeat. 

We feel all of this while trying to parent. We're mothering in a terrifying world with broken hearts. How does one even do that?

While the violence keeps happening and we hug our babies tight as we wonder when it all ends, life still happens. Parenting can still knock the wind out of you some days. We have work meetings and IEP conferences. The dishwasher is broken and we forgot to pay the internet bill. There are toys to clean up and laundry to fold and we’re out of milk again. We have spats with our spouse or our siblings, and we missed girl’s night out with our friends. Again. We barely have time to breathe, let alone catch our breath. 

It all just feels like too much.

But we can’t pour from an empty cup. 

We do what we can, where we can, how we can.

It’s in times like these, that I’m reminded of the parable of the long spoons. Perhaps you’ve heard it, but if not, it’s the story of person who visits a group of people who can’t feed themselves because their spoons are too long. They are miserable and angry. The person then visits another group of people, who despite also having the same spoons that are too long for self-feeding, are happy and thriving. Why? Because the second group of people are using their long spoons to feed each other. 

We do what we can, where we can, how we can.

So we feed each other. We hug our children extra tight. If we can, we donate time and money to causes we care about. We call our representatives and reach out to teachers and others in our community. We text our loved ones with a simple “thinking of you” message. We say “I love you” a bit more often—to everyone. And we forgive ourselves when our emotions are just too much, when we crumble into a ball of tears and sob at the scariness of the world.

We do what we can, where we can, how we can. We pick up our long spoons and help each other. And in doing so, we fill their cup—and our own. 

Yes, the world is terrifying and our hearts are broken. But we'll do what we can, how we can, where we can. 

A few months ago, I heard a story of a woman sheltering in her home in the outskirts of Kyiv and baking bread for fighters. She’s doing what she can by baking bread. I want to be like her. I want to do what I can, where I can, how I can. 

Related: Dear child: The world may not always be safe, but I will always be your haven 

So yes, the world is scary. I'm heartbroken, anger, and terrified. I'm emotionally maxed out. And I'm guessing you are too. But I’ll keep on keeping on, and so will you, mama. Because that’s what we do.

We care deeply and feel intensely and love madly. Yes, sometimes it all feels like too much. But we do what we can, where we can, how we can. We'll love our children and advocate for change and keep on caring for this very broken world.

We fill each other’s cups.

A version of this post was originally published February 28, 2022. It has been updated.