For Mother’s Day, I received two things I wanted very badly: coconut cream pie, and time alone. My husband took our kids on a bike ride for the afternoon, and I puttered around the house enjoying the silence, something we haven’t had much of these last two months.
Adding to the external noise is all the internal noise in my brain caused by obsessively checking the news. I’ve always felt an obligation to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, and especially in our country, and regularly call or write my representatives.
But, lately, it’s just too much.
I’m reminded of a weekday recently when my kids had just about had it with all the online assignments, and so we took a day off and enjoyed some time outside, read books for pleasure (not work or assignments) and just took a step back. I’m always talking to my kids about paying attention to their own mental health, about recognizing when they need a break, but I’m not so good at taking my own advice.
So, the Mother’s Day gift I gave to myself was a break from social media and, really, all news, for at least a week, maybe two, maybe more. I’ve already felt my mood improving. There’s a line in my upcoming picture book with Corinna Luyken (Something Good) that says: “We were meaner than we used to be.” It refers to kids internalizing a hateful incident at their school and letting it affect how they treat each other.
That line is most definitely autobiographical. I’ve found myself feeling, well, mean, after seeing one too many stories of hatred and, lately, selfishness in the news, as people worry more about getting a haircut than keeping others from dying from this virus.
My current picture book projects are about empathy, and to write them, I need to believe in it, to say the least. What this means for me right now is that I need to surround myself (virtually) with a small circle of kind-hearted friends and live in the world of my books, where I alone control the outcome. I’ll be back, and in the meantime, I’m hoping to concentrate on the goodness in the world.