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A letter to the mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

The mothers of the world stand in solidarity with those who are trying to protect their children from war.

Dear mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone,

As I sit in my living room reading reports from Ukraine, my thoughts scatter to many places at once. The analytical part of me wants to understand the historical and geopolitical forces that led up to this moment. The middle-aged side of me remembers with visceral tension the nuclear threats of the Cold War era. The American in me ponders what my country's leadership should, can and will do under the circumstances.

But the mother in me—the raw, human heart of me—goes straight to you and your children.


As you sit huddled together in a basement or a subway or perhaps a leftover bomb shelter from another generation's war, my 13-year-old son cuddles close to me on the couch. He looks at me with wide, worried eyes and asks what we would do if we were in your shoes. He's barely old enough to know the truth, but I tell him anyway: I don't know.I honestly don't know.

I know that our children look to us for safety, security and reassurance, so I try to imagine what you must be telling your young children as they hear air raid sirens, explosions, gunfire from above.

"You're OK. We're safe here," you tell them, not knowing if it's true. "It's going to be OK."

You lie to your children because you don't know what else to do. You're scared, but you don't want them to see it. If you can't protect them from the violence on their doorstep, you will shield them as much as you can from fear and despair. You—your body, your presence—are their primary shelter and safe place, so you wrap your arms around your babies, knowing full well that your flesh is powerless against weapons of war. You know you would die for them. You worry that won't be enough.

I am keenly aware that only the happenstance of my birthplace allows me to sit safely in my living room while you hide from violence. Whether you and your children are huddled in Ukraine or Yemen or Ethiopia or another war-torn region, geography is the only real difference between us. I didn't choose any of this and neither did you.

None of us wants this for our children. None of us ever has.

War is hell, and women and children beat the brunt of it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." I've always appreciated his blunt honesty, but I think mothers might hate war more than soldiers. Soldiers are at least trained for the brutality, if not the futility or stupidity. There is no training that can prepare a mother to nurture her children in the violence and chaos of a war zone.

I think back over human history. How many mothers have witnessed the maiming of their children, physically or psychologically, by war? I look into my sweet son's eyes and my heart breaks, knowing not just that he could be hurt or killed, but also knowing that corrupt men with power would eagerly turn him into a killer to satisfy their need for conquest.

Too many mothers have sent their children off to fight in fruitless wars. Too many of those children haven't come back or have come back broken beyond repair. Too many mothers are hiding in basements with their babies in too many places, trying to keep their children's world from falling apart. Too many, too many, too many.

No one truly wins in war, no matter the political outcome, and it's beyond frustrating that humanity has not yet learned that armed conflict causes more problems than it solves. I've often wondered why don't we force the leaders who want to wage war into a boxing ring to duke it out among themselves. It makes no less sense than sending thousands of their people to fight to the death and destroy valuable infrastructure and architecture while they're at it.

I'm so tired of madmen playing violent games with people's lives because they can't figure out how to fill their soul holes. I'm so tired of their attempts to make us enemies, when all that separates us are invisible lines imagined into existence by insecure men. I'm so tired of fallen soldiers being hailed as heroes by those who sent them into battle to be sacrificed as pawns.

Imagine if moms were at the helm instead. Moms who understand that brute force is both immature and unnecessary. Moms who see all the world's children as our own. Imagine that world, just for a moment. What a vast difference that would make.

But here we are in this moment, and all I can do is offer you my solidarity. I hate that you and your children have to go through this stupid and wasteful and tragic and maddening mess that you didn't choose to partake in. I wish I could wave a wand and whisk us into a future where war is obsolete and unthinkable, where we truly accept that we are one human family and where we've chosen as a collective to create real and lasting peace. I have to believe that we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, you are not forgotten, wherever you are. I am not in your shoes, but please know that I and millions of mothers around the world are wrapping our arms around you and your children, praying desperately for an end to the violence and trauma.

Your children—all of our children—deserve so much better than this.

via Chewy

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We all know parenting can be tough, but if there's one thing that makes the roller coaster of emotions totally worth it, it's seeing our children's faces light up with joy.

Children's smiles are infectious, and not in the scary pandemic kind of a way. There's simply nothing better in this world than the face of a bright-eyed little human beaming with happiness, which is why a recent TikTok trend has people grinning from ear to ear themselves.

The premise is simple: The parent asks the kid to record them dancing to Taylor Swift's "Love Story" with the screen facing away from them (under the guise that the parent dancing needs to see themselves). So instead of recording the parent dancing, it's actually recording the kid's face watching them.

And oh, the love and joy on these kids' faces is so, so sweet to witness. Watch:

@thechavezfamilyy

The end 😭😭 why am I bawling at this trend?! He’s SO CUTE #momsoftiktok #momtok #toddlersoftiktok

That face. OMG.

And check out the encouragement from this little fella:

@themarshhfamily

The end did it for me 🥹😭I birthed such a sweet, loving and encouraging little boy!! #momtok #toddlersoftiktok #taylorswiftchallenge #lovestorychallenge #boymom #toddlermom

Seriously, seeing close-ups of kids' joy should be a daily thing.

@makingthemoffitts

#nationaladoptionmonth #adoptionawareness #thisisadoption #thisisfostercare #adoption #fostercare #makingthemoffitts #lovestorychallenge #taylorswift

Some dads have gotten in on the trend as well. Look at the way this little girl beams at her daddy.

@durbanofamily

Had to jump on the trend! Love this beautiful girl!

Of course, part of the beauty of having kids is you simply never know what they're going to do. While some youngsters gaze lovingly at their parents while they dance, others have a … well … different reaction. Check out this girl's facial expressions:

@haleigh.booth

It’s the side eye at the end for me 😆😂😂😂😂

Hilarious. And because this is the internet, naturally someone had to do the TikTok trend with their dog. Gotta admit, Ellie's toothy grin is pretty darn cute as well.

@elliegoldenlife

This is why I don’t dance 😂

TikTok trends can sometimes be strange, annoying or problematic, but once in a while one comes along that brings people together in surprisingly delightful ways. Seeing people's kids' pure enjoyment watching their parents being silly is simply the best.