As this year comes to a close, my heart is so full. Full of love for Stu and Amira and the little family we’re growing. Full of love for our extended family and friends, who have come together in a beautiful village where Amira will be raised with love and laughter and celebration. And full of sorrow for those 20 families in Connecticut – 20 families – whose lives were changed forever a few weeks ago.
There have been other awful tragedies involving children – I know they happen in different ways all over the world every day – but this one had a very different effect on me than any before. The non-stop media coverage (print, tv and social), the violence of the situation, the tender ages of the victims, the geographical proximity, and of course, my new role as parent, made this awfulness almost too much to bear for me. I couldn’t talk about it for a long time. It made me shut down in a way that I haven’t experienced before.
Stu said something that day that rang so true for me. He said that when you have a baby, you get stronger than you knew you could be, but you also become so much more fragile than you were before. He’s absolutely right. I know without a doubt that I would do anything to protect Amira. I would run through fire, swim with sharks, or jump out of a plane. Things I would never have done before I had a baby, but for her, I would do any of it without a second thought.
But I have become fragile too. I can’t watch anything on tv that has to do with children being hurt or sad or unloved in any way. I have become the queen of the romantic comedy, because it’s the only kind of movie I can watch now. Law&Order SVU used to be my favourite tv show, but now I can’t go near it. Fluffy, nonsensical reality tv suits me just fine now. Everything to do with children hurts in a new and exquisite way that it didn’t before. I can’t even think about anything bad happening to Amira. I – the girl who has always had an overactive imagination – have now entered a realm where there is a whole world, a whole potential reality, that I cannot even begin to imagine. I’m simply too fragile for it all.
Because now I have a wandering heart. That is what it feels like to me to have a baby. As if my heart is now outside my body, doing what it wants when it wants, and I have very little control over it all. It is learning to talk and learning to crawl and learning to walk. It’s trying new things for the first time that I already know how to do. It is exploring the world, and will inevitably feel not just it’s beauty, but also it’s pain. And it makes me all too aware of how easily it can be hurt, dented or broken.
Fragile. Oh so fragile.
So for this new year, I will send out a wish, articulated perfectly by Goran Persson, the former Prime Minister of Sweden.
“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”
Happy New Year, Everyone.