How to have a broken heart and still be a good parent

How to have a broken heart and still be a good parent

The world has broken my heart,

It’s not been just one thing that has taken me out. It’s been a long slow burn of suck.

  • To  deflect accountability for his own shame and self-loathing, a closeted gay man adopted the mask of a “radical extremist” and slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
  • There was that alligator at Disneyworld. That fucking, fucking alligator….
  • In America, a concealed weapon is a 2nd amendment right ….unless you are a black man. Then it’s punishable by death.
  • Then, of course, there’s that narcissistic orange buffoon spewing his brand of poisonous gas across the land.
  • On a more personal note, I’ve witnessed a pious, holier-than-thou ‘Christian’ man be as cruel and soulless as the most despicable heathen among us, aaaand my neighbors are totes cool with our building’s walkways looking like shit.

The world has broken my heart.

I feel like I’ve been sold a faulty set of goods with that whole “Love Wins” propaganda. When we pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Us, turns out humanity can be pretty damn wretched.

Even so, I still have to be a good parent/role model to one particular blue-eyed boy living in that wretched world.



Lately I’ve felt an emotional undertow beneath my feet threatening to pull me under. Thankfully, I grew up swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and have some experience with undertows. I know I can’t outswim them, or fight the current: I just have to relax and float it out.

Hey, I don’t mind retreating from society while I “float it out.”  AT ALL. I can finally afford cable, I’m independent to a fault, and I’m very comfortable playing the role of Urban Hermit.

But how do I instill hope and optimism in my young son when I’m in a place of gloom and cynicism? I don’t want to pull him under the dark cloud I’m rocking above my head these days. That’s not fair to him.

Now I don’t have qualifying letters behind my name that make me an expert on the subject of “parenting through a broken heart,” but I’ve got to do something to avoid being the Bitchy Mom on the block. So here’s my plan:

I will defy the logic of flight attendants worldwide, and I will put the oxygen mask on my kid, first.

I’m going to cultivate a Good World in our home. As crappy as it is out there, he will have the experience of a “Safe Place,” emotionally and physically, in the confines of our home. (Bonus: If he knows first hand what love and acceptance feel like, he will likely have an extremely adverse reaction to injustice and hatred when he witnesses it.)

I will do my best to be fully present when we are together. I will leave the world of headlines and soundbites outside of our sacred Mom-Son bubble. I will then go a step further and make damn sure he knows I’m “in it” with him.  I will actively connect with him, eyes to soul:

….when we are watching ‘Dog with a Blog’ together

…when he is telling me a 30 minute run-on/occasionally confusing story while we walk the dog.

… when he shows me the latest drawing he has made.

 If he asks a question about today’s headlines, I will be honest and sparing in my answers. I will give him just enough to be informed, but not so much that he feels he has to fear/fix the world.

I will tell him it’s okay to be angry/sad/disappointed, but the real character of a man lies in how one handles those all-consuming emotions.

And if when I get crabby I will check myself …before he thinks he’s the reason I’m angry.

If I find myself dangerously close to the Bitch Zone, I will put on my Parent Hat …and send myself to my room until I can, once again, feel the light in my heart. (Important: he can’t be the only source of light in my life. That’s too much responsibility for a kid to bear)

I will keep my inner circle small and loyal until I am steady on my feet, again. I must be vigilant about securing my personal boundaries, and reject those soul-sucking, useless activities I know can rot the space in my heart that is reserved for my son. (I’m looking at you, political arguments on Facebook.)

  • Caveat: I will not, however, be building a wall.  I will simply trust my instincts about the intentions of others – even if I end up being totally wrong. I’m cool with those odds.

I will not bury my head in the sand to escape those blazing fires of injustice and hate-prop currently burning across our society, but I will also not be bringing any of my marshmallows to roast on that bonfire. I will stay close enough to feel the heat, but far enough away to not get burned.

Protecting my son’s open heart will become my number one priority – eclipsing all of my ego’s sadsack panhandling for accolades. There will be plenty of time for that when my son becomes his own man. Then I can freely pursue a second career as a full-time Urban Hermit desperate to go viral.

Hmmmm…yeah. So that’s my plan to push back against what presently feels like a hugely disappointing world. My homemade strategy is both selfish and selfless. His heart is still boundless, and he is more than willing to share its bounty. His joy then becomes my joy – which then becomes my headlamp in the dark cave of modern life.

(And no worries. This doesn’t mean I will neglect my interests altogether. I mean, look: I just spent a couple of hours  – alone – writing a post about all that time I’m going to give my son….while he was watching “Dog with a Blog” by himself. After all, the flight attendants don’t tell you NOT to put the oxygen mask on the kid ….)


That’s my piece, and that’s my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It truly means the world to me. Carry on…

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