We've all heard it, spoken it, thought about it, macerated it before digesting it so really it's nothing new: Social Media make people unhappy. And this past week made this reality even more pronounced than ever for most of us (roughly 62M Americans at least) as we struggle to make sense of the 2016 elections.
I have found myself in a sort of deep stupor, feeling simultaneously numb and enraged, and in the process, unable to be fully productive save for the usual mindless tasks I can do on autopilot. Every time I tried to sit down and write, all I'd been able express is anger and a sense of hopelessness and I know this is unquestionably unhealthy for me and my family. I know that I have to consciously will every fiber in my being to break this state of negativity and genuinely move on.
That said, it has become clear that the first step for inspiration has to be an effort to look at the positives. So I humbly offer this list to you and hope that you can hold on to every bit of light you can find around you these days, nurture it and eventually make it grow brighter.
The process wasn't easy but it was necessary for me to dig deep and not take anything for granted. What I've realized is that there have at least been five ways this past election has made me into a better parent:
#1I have become less uptight about my rules...with cussing. In other words, I guess you could say I have become more 'real' with my parenting. Of course I still tell my son that cussing is not acceptable, or at the very least, highly discouraged. He is absolutely not allowed to utter profanity at this time and for many, many years to come. However, since the election results, I have now clarified certain stipulations given that I have inadvertently uttered very colorful words in the past week. Let's just say that where extreme frustration and pain are involved, caused by social injustices and cultural ailments such as bigotry, misogyny or racism, such verbal incontinence or potty-'mouthedness' becomes acceptable as long as you are 20 years old and above.
#2Speaking of such cultural ailments, I have also been spending more quality time with my child trying to widen his vocabulary. After all, he now needs to know the meaning of words such as xenophobia, 'whitelash', or safe-space, to name a few. More than ever, I now take my role as my child's primary teacher much more seriously.
#3The election results gave me a real opportunity to teach my son about sportsmanship. Parties have campaigned, people voted and the results are out. We may not always like how things turn out, not always agree with who wins a competition or how the game played out, but the results have to be accepted especially if you know the game was not rigged. You cannot undermine the process. What you can do is change or improve the process for the next round if you think something about it is not working well, evaluate where you might have gone wrong and do your best to show up as your best next time around. Most of all, don't attack the other group (although you can converse and discuss politely), be civil and try to move on as graciously as possible.
#4I learned that cultivating a sense of gratitude means being able to appreciate even the smallest, unexpected sources of joy and comfort. Parenting has efficiently trained me to look at the bigger picture that somehow it's gotten easy to ignore the smaller pieces along the way. I had to recalibrate a bit for my sanity's and child's sake and appreciate that sometimes the seemingly insignificant are all you need to help you just plow through.
Unfortunately, for all my pronouncements of being quite liberal and respecting diversity, I have to set certain boundaries in our own home. I would have to ban certain things and by things I mean anything Troll-related...toys, pictures, movies, t.v. shows. I am not prepared to take the risk of inadvertently unleashing my psychosis at the sight of these wide-eyed creatures with fuzzy hair standing up, ESPECIALLY if they happen to be wheat-orangey in color. This would actually save our family some money since my son now needs to be more discriminating with his choice of toys or shows to watch. So far, he's not into it so I consider that another bonus!
Hopefully, I will see more blessings as the months go by. For now, I am willing to live on crumbs as I find healing in all this. I am optimistic. I need to be. Maybe if I repeat that often enough, my brain and heart will eventually catch up. One can only hope.