Holding on to our Joie de vivre

I am the first to admit that I know very little about world news. I have very little knowledge of the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and other Middle East countries, too many to count. I don’t read a newspaper, there is little opportunity to watch the news, and the snippets of information that I do know have been gleaned from Twitter, Facebook or through conversations with friends where I have nodded along, completely oblivious.

And my lack of knowledge isn’t through ignorance and is certainly not through disinterest or a lack of empathy. It is through fear. As someone who already lives with crippling anxiety and irrational thoughts, I am absolutely terrified of switching on the TV, opening a newspaper, and hearing about the atrocities happening every single day in our world.

But on Friday night, like most of the world, I was glued to the TV well into the early hours, watching in pure horror and disbelief at what was unfolding. Paris, a place that I have visited several times, a place that holds such beautiful memories for me, where I have experienced nothing but happy times. A place just a few hundred miles from where we are now. And suddenly, it all felt very real.

Because I’ll be honest with you, I have been guilty of hearing about the situation in Syria, in all of the surrounding countries, and it felt like a world away. Yes it concerned me, yes it saddened me to think just how awful it was, how desperately frightening it must be for those people, how devastating that such terrible things are going on in our world. But it didn’t feel like my world. Until now.

Seeing footage of bodies shot down in the streets I have walked and places I have visited suddenly made it seem so much more tangible. I felt incredibly ashamed that I had been so guilty of burying my head in the sand for all this time, ignoring a crisis that I had told myself would not affect us, that we did not need to worry about. But seeing it on the news this weekend really brought it home. This is really happening. This horror, this tragedy, is going on not just in Paris but every single day in countries all around the world. Children as young as mine are being killed, families wiped out, innocent people losing their lives due to this nonsensical battle between the human race.

On Saturday morning when Lewis finally dragged himself out of bed, I called him into our room and explained to him about the attacks in Paris. And I watched as the look of absolute panic flashed across his face and he asked me, “Will they come and get us next?”. And I wished that I had the answers. Because what are we supposed to tell our children about the state of the world? How can we promise to keep them safe when there is no way of knowing who walks our streets or what devastation is about to unfold?

As parents it is our natural instinct to want to protect our children, both physically and emotionally. There are times when I wish that I could shut the door, un-plug the television, disconnect the wi-fi and shield my children from all of the horrible things that are reported daily. I wish that I could wrap them in cotton wool, hold them close and promise them that they are safe, that nothing bad will ever happen, that the world is a wonderful place to be.

Instead, Lewis and I had a lengthy discussion about the attacks, about ISIS, religion and the refugee crisis. I was amazed by Lewis’s maturity and depth of understanding and yet saddened at how afraid he looked, how concerned he was about the possibility of attacks here in our home town, or in larger cities where our extended families live. And sat there, hearing my child voice his fears about terrorism, about bombings, shootings, horrific acts of violence, I felt the knot of fear in my stomach grow and grow. What kind of world have we brought our children into? What kind of life can we expect to live if there is always this threat hanging over us, this constant fear of never knowing when the next attack will strike?

But then I thought about all of those people, not just in Paris, but in countries across the globe who have lost their lives or are fleeing from danger. I thought about all of those parents mourning their child, the children crying for their parents, the families torn apart by war, by hate, by terror. I thought about all of those lost lives who don’t gain the same publicity as those in the Western world, those who lie in mass graves and never even make the news reports. I thought about each and every one of those people whose lives have been affected by these treacherous acts, who may have escaped with their life but whose injuries will stay with them forever.

And I think that we owe it to all of those people to continue to live our lives. We owe it to them to fight back, to stand tall, to be unafraid, to explore, to travel, to simply live a life.

For if we begin to live our lives constantly looking over our shoulder, to carry round this heavy weight of nagging fear, then what kind of message are we passing on to our children? As parents, we owe it to our children to educate them without fear, to prepare them in an age appropriate manner and to make sure that they feel safe, secure, protected. But we also owe it to our children to raise them in a way that these horrors don’t penetrate their daily thoughts, to shield them in a way that they can remain care-free, to protect them in a way that they can still just be children. And that is the most important thing.

I think the real fear here is that we will spend our whole lives worrying about what may or may not happen until ultimately, we forget to live. And although I cannot promise my children that there wont be attacks here in the UK, I can promise them that I will do whatever I can to keep them safe. I can promise them that although the world can be a scary place, I will do my best to show them just how wonderful it can be.

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10 Comments

  1. November 16, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    Such a beautifully written post! I too have lovely happy memories when we last visited Paris, knowing what just happened seemed unbelievable, that it could possibly happen anywhere and to anybody. It is scary not just for us but most specially for our children too. #AnythingGoes

    • November 16, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      It’s awful isn’t it? I never imagined a time when we would have to prepare our children for such atrocities. There is already so much to fear in this world, I shall be trying my hardest to keep hold of my joie de vivre wherever possible. ❤️

  2. November 16, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    A thoughtful and eloquent post. Sometimes I find the thought of protecting my boys from all the evil overwhelming. I absolutely agree though – we simply need to bring our kids up to know that we will do our utmost to protect them, that are truly loved. We can only hope that they do grow up to be a good influence in our world x

    • November 16, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      Thank you. It does feel over whelming at times, particularly when our own fears take over and our natural instinct tells us to protect our children. I hope that I can put my fears aside for the sake of my children, I’m a natural born worrier so it’s a hard feat!! Thanks for reading! Xx

  3. November 17, 2015 / 12:41 pm

    What a beautiful post! What you have said is so so so true…We can’t shield our children from the horrors but we can show them the beauty as well. #anythinggoes

    • November 17, 2015 / 12:42 pm

      Thank you. It’s so important that we show them that there is so much more to our world than all of these horrors reported. Just very hard to swallow our own fears and that for our children. Xx

  4. The Anxious Dragon
    November 21, 2015 / 9:43 am

    I understand what you mean about wanting to protect yourself from the horrors of the news. I did not watch the news at the weekend beyomd the headlines. I needed to know the details, but I did not need to see the images on mu screen again and again.
    I can empathise with you over what to tell your children. I grew up in Kent in the 1980’s. There was then the real and persistant threat of bombings from the IRA. I rememeber a school trip to Gatwick airport and everyone being rushed out because of a (false) bomb threat.
    I think as your meme said the way to deal with it is to tell them the facts, but concentrate more on the good in the world. The kindness, love and generosity of people. Educate them about other countries cultures and religions so that they know that muslims are good, kind loving people.
    Such a difficult subject, I could write all day. Thank you for sharing your post with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

  5. November 21, 2015 / 9:51 pm

    Hi Laura, such a great post and I think youre completly right. The world is a scary place, but all we can do is live our lives without fear and keep them as safe as we can in a world that is sometimes not a very nice place. I think the quote you picked at the end is perfect, if we can raise our children to make the world a little less cruel and heartless then we will have done a great job in making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. Thanks for linking up again to #MarvMondays, great to have you back again :-). Emily

    • November 22, 2015 / 10:27 pm

      Thank you! It’s very hard to hide our fear when our instinct is telling us to protect our children at all costs but I’m hoping that it doesn’t limit our enjoyment of life in the future. My youngest are very protected from all of this but Lewis is a worrier, he takes it all in and he asks a lot of questions. It’s so sad that we are having to have these conversations with our children. Let’s hope for happier times. Thanks for the link up. Xx

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