A twig of a tree stands in our yard, a few buds just starting to form. In the future, those buds could become branches. But now, they’re nothing but green and brown nubs off of a slim trunk.
It’s hard to believe that one day we’ll be eating pears from that tree. In fact, we may not. Deer may nibble the buds or disease may fell it.
And yet we planted it anyway.
Just like we plant tiny seeds in fine, fluffy soil each year and tend them under the soft glow of lights in our basement. After exposing them to the sun and wind of the outdoors, we transplant them into our garden in the hopes that they’ll grow hearty and bear us vegetables. The groundhog may chomp on the leaves or the squash bugs may such them dry. There are never any guarantees of what we’ll get.
And we plant them anyway.
Just like we chose to have children, despite the constant uncertainty of this world. From the time we find out we’re expecting, we do what we can to provide them with what they need to move through the world. We take our prenatal vitamins, make decisions about how to feed them, teach them how to manage the Big Feelings, read to them, counsel them on navigating friendships, host sleepovers, and so much more. No matter what we do or how much we hope, there is no guarantee our children will be healthy or happy. There is always a chance that we will lose them too young, from illness, accident or worse. There is always a chance that they will suffer from mental illness or chronic pain or simply from relationships with deeply unkind people. It is a certainty they will suffer pain and difficulty. And there’s a good chance these days that they will face a future very different from our own - one with high income inequality and suffering the impacts of climate change.
And yet we birth our children and love them the best we can anyway.
All of these actions, both big and small, require faith. Not of the religious type, although it is rooted in that for many people including me. No, this is a more universal faith, a faith that the future has the potential to be good. Seeing the tragedies and injustices of the world, it’s easy to slip into despair. Or just as tempting, anger. While I try to weep with those who weep and use my anger productively, neither of those provide me the energy to love my kids and keep on going each day. It’s the faith that tomorrow can be good and the hope that we can make it just a little bit better that I cling to.
But this is a hope and faith that dies in isolation. We can’t maintain it alone. We need community. We need each other.
So let’s come together as much as we can. For now, online. But once this current moment passes, in person as well. As friends and neighbors. With people similar to us and very different. Speaking up against injustice together. Having the hard conversations together. Reaching out with a word of encouragement or open arms to hug.
Let’s plant our trees and raise our kids as we look forward to the future together, whatever it may bring.
For more on working together to raise kind kids, check out Growing Sustainable Together: Practical Resources to Raise Kind, Engaged, Resilient Children, coming out June 15 and available for preorder now.