Sunday, January 17, 2010


Its 3a.m. Claire awakens again, complaining of ear pain.

Rather, I should say she protests vehemently against her ear pain. She rallies against it with all the spite she can muster. It hurts.

Bleary eyed, foggy brained, and raw nerved, I try various approaches to assuage her.

Compassion – I know it hurts, sweetie, but the best thing we can do is try to settle down and fall asleep.

Scare tactic – If it's this bad, maybe I should take you to the hospital.

Pleading – Can you please just try to relax? You'll wake your sister…

Reasoning – You know what? There is a small country called Haiti where a big earthquake knocked down a lot of buildings. Many people are badly hurt and have no homes or food. I know you are in pain, but there are a lot of people suffering even more right now.


I know.


Who says something like this to a 5-year-old at 3 a.m.? Late night lessons in the human condition?

Like I said, my nerves were raw. I was doing my best.

But I can't get Haiti out of my head. It seems like something out of one of those Armageddon movies – a massive scale natural disaster, hitting the center of a populous city where the poorest of people's lives are made many magnitudes more difficult.

But it's real.

And it's so far from me.

My roof stands solidly above my head. My loved ones lay tucked safely in their beds. I feel fairly certain that tomorrow will bring no horror worse than isolated tantrums and scattered sibling spats.

But still, daily I inflate my petty problems into gigantic bubble gum balloons, which occasionally pop and cover me in a thin, sticky film.

I didn't get one SINGLE second to myself today. This house is so MESSY! Why won't this baby nap? These kids eat nothing but junk. I'm SICK of picking up toys. What are we going to have for dinner? Please, please, for five minutes, just be QUIET!

Gummed up and weighted down, I trap myself in my microcosm.

Haiti reminds me that I have no right to live like this.

My blessings are abundant and apparent. I should spend my days counting them – wrapping myself up in them – not allowing every irritation to march right under my skin.

Because I can think of no better way to thank my God for this beautiful, crazy life than to be happy.