The other day, my daughter came home.  She was upset.  She’d worn a new shirt that day- the one she bought in Costa Rica over the summer.  When she had been out after school, someone walked past her on the street, burning a hole in the arm, probably an inch in diameter.  She was upset because this shirt was special to her- it signified a trip where she learned about how people in different parts of the world lived, where she had to help pour a concrete floor for someone, because there had only been dirt under their feet, where she ziplined for the first time.  While she was part of a group, it was her first big trip without parental supervision.  I comforted her, gave her a hug, went into Mom mode- I looked at the shirt, figured out if I could fix it, put it in the pile to take to my miraculous dry cleaner.  I did the practical stuff.  In front of my daughter.

When I left her, I was angry and pissed off and sad and frightened.  First off- my baby could have been hurt much worse.  I know this is minor, but she said she felt the burn a little.  How dare someone hurt her!!!!!  How dare someone make her cry out of sheer selfishness?

I went into Person of Interest mode.  I thought about figuring out where the security cameras are on this particular part of 14th Street, and scouring all the photos till I found the perpetrator.  Then I would hunt them down- then I would show them the full force of a Mother when her child has been wronged.  And for 10 minutes- I seriously thought about this.

I want to protect my daughter from harm.  I know I can’t do this- I can’t protect her.  This kills me- the inability to keep her from getting hurt.  But you can’t predict the future….

So what do you do?  Well, I’ve spent my life trying to be honest with her about the dangers in the world, trying to teach her to protect herself.  Do you know how hard this is, explaining danger, but also pushing your kid to be a active participant in life?  Like all things parental, this is a fine line.

As soon as she could read the signs on the bus, my daughter knew “If you see something, say something.”  I had to explain to her what this meant, when she was 4 years old.  At 4 years old she started to learn the tenets of, something left unattended could be a bomb.  She has spent her entire life going through metal detectors at many public buildings and bag checks.  When we are going to an event, we thoroughly read to see if we are able to take in bags, and what sizes are allowed.  She knows to carry anything valuable in front of her, never in the backpack.  She knows to walk down well lit streets, to do things in groups, to call me if she ever feels unsafe.  If she takes a cab I make her send me a picture of the license plate and the driver id card.  Every new step in her life requires me to give her an additional rule, an additional warning, an additional explanation of what danger lies ahead.

But I can’t predict everything.  I can’t give her warnings for every single thing, because I don’t know everything that can happen.  There’s always going to be the unimaginable.

I can’t protect her.

This crushes me.

I teach, I explain, I tell her I love her, and I pick up the pieces.  This is all I can do.

It will never be enough.


41 thoughts on “You Do What You Can

  1. It may never be enough for you but what I see is that she has one hell of am awesome mom. I feel the same way about my niece and my heart goes out to my mom who still worries about me today. Honestly when I went to Vegas I called her every day because i knew she was worried that I was there. I know I can’t keep her from worrying but I can make it easier for her. Sorry about your daughters shirt. That.really sucks.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You have been on my mind since yesterday. Once I figured out that my brother, his family, and my close friends were all ok, my thoughts went to you. I hope you and yours are ok. You New Yorkers are a strong bunch — and I know you will move on. You won’t let this change you. And you have a whole country of support. Thinking of you. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Our son’s car was broken into when he was a junior in h.s. I still want to track down the thugs who stole the stereo he’d worked
        long hours to buy—and that was 12 years ago and far away from where we are now!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How I hear your fear & anger, & totally agree! I cannot imagine how anxious I would be if I had a daughter who was about to move out into this #MeToo world, where even the US President gets away with pussy-grabbing 😱😡😡😡
    But it sounds like you’ve done an awesome job of making her empowered & adventurous, so she must fly out into her future, & you gotta trust, love, & let go… SO MUCH easier said than done 🙏🏼❤ G

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why does someone think It’s ok to burn someone or a piece of their clothing! What goes through the heads of mindless idiots when they think It’s fun or ok to do such a thing! I’m glad to hear she wasn’t hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain and I I soooo identify with it! Our hearts break so much as parents, but we do the best we can and our kids love us for it and in the end that is what matters. The love between you and your child and them knowing that you will always be there for them! You may NOT be able to stop the bad stuff from happening BUT you wil always love them through it! Good Job Mama! you are doing just fine!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I almost cried reading this….
    If only we could protect our daughters! But no, our mission is to try to teach them to protect themselves. I struggle every day thinking I didn’t realise how I should have done more about that when my girls were growing up. I don’t think I knew myself how bad it was out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are giving her the knowledge she needs to navigate this strange world we live in, so give yourself a pat on the back for that.

    Thing is it doesn’t get any better the older they get, you still worry and want to protected them from the world, when I first had my son 37 years ago, my granddad said to me ‘get ready to hurt, they are a pain in the arms when little and a pain in the heart when they grow’ I never quite understood what he meant at the time, now however it’s all to clear. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing this. My heart goes out to your daughter and fellow New Yorkers today. The lessons my mom, a native New Yorker, taught me are the ones I never forgot. She will remember. You have trained her well. When I went overseas and did some independent and sometimes crazy things, my mom would say jokingly, “God has a soft touch for those crazy and those a little naive.” Or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh. Yesterday kind of sucked. I knew my daughter and husband were safe, but that place…there are so many schools right there. So many kids would be walking around. But the thing is, I have reached a new level of calm during these situations…..and I’m not normally a calm person. I just thought it was weird that I wrote that post yesterday morning…..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a scary world. It needs to change and only love can do that. Tough love that disciplines! Easy to write but there is no easy way to do it in a world where there is little respect of life.

    Liked by 1 person

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