The Safety of Pajamas

You see, one of the reasons I didn’t have children is that I couldn’t abide by the lurking potential for disappointment.

Not mine.

My child’s.

We grow up with lots of adages and folksy sayings, like as the crow flies or you can’t catch flies with honey. First of all, I don’t know any crows, so can’t determine the veracity of that statement at any point. Secondly, who wants flies?

But the one that floated around in my own 20s and 30s, when the fecundity of my loins might have matched that of my academic prowess, was parents want better for their children than they had.

I don’t envy my peers who have brought children into the world we are living now. Sure, for us in America, there’s no outright war*, indoor plumbing is saving us from any number of water-borne illnesses, we travel to destinations (and at speeds) our grandparents never dreamed of, and if there’s anything we need to accomplish, there’s probably an app for that. For all of that, I have this sinking feeling that it’s getting harder to make that hopeful promise to our children.

It’s this desperate juxtaposition of what we have alongside what we have to look forward to that brings me to my knees. Okay, not knees. But, I put my coffee down in the startling revelation.

I’m not even talking about a far-fetched fear of a dystopian zombie future. Apart from the barrage of natural disasters seeming to signal this planet is in self-destruct mode,** I’m talking about overt social annihilation – government approved discrimination hearkening back to the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s to 1960s. When we studied it in school, or acknowledge the annual remembrances of major social milestones, it seems so abstract (for me, not for others who still live the reality of systemic racism and subjugation). Yet now, we have women (some, mothers themselves) on national television all but saying, ‘Teenage boys are bound to get rapey, what can you do?’ (I know that’s not what she said).

I know I’m complaining. I know I’m wallowing. I know I’m going to get off my couch, and put my big kid pants on tomorrow, and in small and big ways, work on changing in the world***. But I can’t quite explain this strange feeling, like a weird claustrophobia or myopia. Whatever is the right word, it’s not a great feeling, knowing that I don’t feel comforted, even in the safety of my pajamas.


*Except the insidious explicit/implicit wars on black lives, women, immigrants, the elderly, the poor, etc.

**A self destruct mode instigated by hubris – ours, not the planet’s

***In case you’re interested, this coming week’s agenda started last night, with the news of the new public charge rule dropping.


[Featured image is my niece in her pajamas on my couch, which is my most comforting space. A promise that I will work to ensure more safe and comforting spaces for her.]