Sometimes you have to tune out the news. Not for one day. Sometimes you need a holiday from the soul-crushing pain that begins every news broadcast. Even if the program ends with a segment on the lighter side, it is not enough to mitigate your distress.
You know it is time for this news holiday when certain feelings begin to overtake you. Often it begins as a general anxiety. Perhaps you experience it as missed heartbeats or, more frighteningly, ripples of a not-yet-seen invader curling through you. That sleeplessness accompanies it is a given.
You know it is time to turn off the news when you begin to fear the telephone. When it rings at an unexpected time—the middle of the afternoon as you’ve settled in with a book, or at dinner, though the likelihood that this is a benign telemarketer and not your child screaming in fear doesn’t occur soon enough.
And if the phone should ring late at night, or God forbid, wake you from a sound sleep, you will likely shake for the rest of that useless night and maybe into the next morning. You imagine, just at that moment of the first ring, the sound of your child’s voice. You are not imagining it. You are remembering it.
The screeching, nearly unintelligible, voice on a cell phone after she hit the highway guardrail and spun the car full of her college friends around, narrowly missing the oncoming truck. Or the time the younger one woke you, sobbing uncontrollably at nearly dying from carbon monoxide poisoning during a friend’s sleepover. Or sometimes, when the news is beyond comprehension — Governments killing their own people. Planes falling from the sky. Young girls stolen from school — you let yourself remember the call from your youngest daughter far away in Africa, phoning from a dingy hotel to tell you she was dangerously dehydrated and what should she do.
This is when you know you can no longer watch the news even though terrible things continue without your oversight. You have no control over the horrors of the world. Nor of your family’s safety.
You recognize the urge to hide your children away. To warn them again and again about the dangers out there. But your children are braver than you are; they always have been, and so you swallow your admonitions and neuroses and encourage their adventurous lives. Because you are a parent and fear was delivered alongside your newborn. You will carry it for them.
And it is in those moments when the world is exploding in hate and you feel particularly powerless that you hope, you pray, that you have already suffered enough.