The other day, things were going terribly. I had dental pain, a migraine, the kids were being lousy. Not only that, but my husband was working both his jobs, which translates to “mommy is the only game in town, kids, so ask her for everything you need, and ask often.”
After my husband got off work, we met him for dinner at a wonderful upscale restaurant (okay, it was Ci-Ci’s Pizza) for some relaxation. Not surprisingly, the meal didn’t improve the day; the kids were loud and overactive, and we ended up leaving after my youngest child licked the parmesan cheese shaker. Oh, yes, she did.
When we left, my husband gallantly offered to let me drive his car for a break from the kids. I was desperate enough to accept – and this is something astounding, since his car is a/c-less, heat-less, and smells like a garbage dump.
I got in, turned the car on and got pelted by his too-loud radio. The station was the local NPR affiliate, and a reporter was explaining how polar bears are being adversely affected by melting ice caps as a result of global warming.
I turned it off.
Not just down. Off.
Let me just say that being well-informed is a big deal to me. The first thing I do every morning when I wake is scan the headlines at cnn.com and nytimes.com . I read current events voraciously, and I’m passionate about the importance of knowing as much as I can about everything. Actually, in this regard, I’m probably pretty annoying.
And I turned the radio off.
I didn’t care about polar bears, or melting ice caps, or even global warming. I cared that finally, finally, I was alone with no one to touch me or talk to me or demand one more second of my brain power. I didn’t have any left to give, frankly.
I sat there for a while, and when I finally started to drive away from Ci-Ci’s it hit me: No wonder ignorance is rampant! There are lots and lots of people for whom what I had isn’t a “bad day”, it’s an every day. When your brain is so full of the hard work of scraping by, making ends meet, getting the children fed and clothed and homework finished and happy all on your own, worrying about the broken washer or car or stove that you don’t have money to fix, and you can’t afford a necessary trip to the dentist – there isn’t room for worrying about polar bears, or ice caps, or global warming, or wars in distant lands, or some new bill being passed in Congress that probably won’t even affect you anyway.
The truth is that in the times we live in, when so many people are struggling, knowledge and passion about that knowledge are luxuries.
On that ride home, I promised myself two things: That I wouldn’t be so quick to judge (ex., what do you mean, I posted an article on Facebook about the union protests in Wisconsin and instead of replying, you guys are posting about tv shows and what you ate for dinner?), and I’d be more grateful for the luxuries I enjoy, even on the “bad days”.