There's a measles outbreak in Orange County. Break out the masks, lock away your children and batten down the hatches! In other words...PANIC!
Okay, I have to admit, when I got the letter from our elementary school illusively stating that someone with measles had been there, two things ran through my mind. One: "Shouldn't they close the school?" And two: "What's the real likelihood my kids will contract measles?"
Now, for those of you who know me, you know that I can certainly worry with the best of them. In fact, I often do that first-WORRY, then I investigate and look for sound reasoning second. This order of emotional response eventually makes way for rational thinking that reminds me that everything's okay. But it's definitely a process. My friend Glennon Doyle Melton at momastery.com calls it "putting on perspectacles" (perspective-spectacles). She is so right!
Back to the measles outbreak...once the email blast made its way through Ladera, the moms got busy, myself included. We're really good at that. As a self-professed, well-intentioned mama bear, I may even argue that we believe it's our calling, our responsibility, to share information. If that information happens to bring with it a little fear, or even some community hysteria, so be it. We would be negligent to keep the facts to ourselves, right?
But this time, along with the information exchange came some pretty harsh finger-pointing, particularly at the parents who have chosen not to immunize their children. I completely understand the urge to find out who's responsible, to find the origin of an outbreak; the cause for our worry, to have more information in order to protect ourselves, but blame isn't productive people. It separates us from that which connects us in the first place: our common parental motivation to do what's best.
Part of living in a close-knit community and espousing the "it-takes-a-village" approach to raising children, brings with it a deep and unavoidable caring about others: other parents who hurt when they can't take away their babies' pain, and children who may suffer from the high fever, miserable rash and other symptoms that the measles virus is notorious for. We worry about members of our community - the immunocompromised, the elderly, the yet-to-be-fully-immune (for whatever reason), and anyone else who may be exposed to such a contagious disease. But the worry is no excuse for being unkind.
The reason parents panic over things like measles, the stomach flu, lice, and other contagious childhood afflictions, is because we're hard-wired to protect. The fear comes from the heart...the caring, feeling heart. But throughout life, parents need other parents. When we're vulnerable and scared, we need each other for strength and perspective. And as we navigate all the different, "do-what's-best" waters, let's remember one thing: we are all in the same boat. Grab an oar and let's keep moving forward.
By the way, this picture is Logan at one. Isn't he cute? And no, he didn't have measles, just a good case of roseola. I'm bringing this one out for his first girlfriend. #funrashfromthepast
(Article posted in the O.C. Register on 3/28/14)