To Ukrainian Mothers: We Hear You

It’s been a heavy couple of days here, living in my head, grappling with the loss of a six-year-old in Slidell and watching the news on the invasion in Ukraine. The tragedy can feel overwhelming.

After Hurricane Katrina, I physically cringed every time I saw or heard the word “devastation.” On the news, in the paper, in online forums– it was like no one could think of any other word to describe what had happened here. Of course, it was accurate– it was just hard to see, over and over and over again. That’s how I feel now about the word “tragic.” I see and read it everywhere, but I can’t think of any other word that fully captures how everything feels.

When Hurricane Ida was approaching, my husband and I went back and forth over whether or not we should evacuate. We had been married seven years and had not yet felt the need to leave for a hurricane, but this time was different. We had a twelve day old baby (not to mention our two other kids), I was exhausted and drowning in decision fatigue, and no answer felt like a good solution. He wanted to stay; I wanted to go. We ultimately chose to evacuate. It was absolutely the right decision for us, and I’m grateful we left. But in the moment, it felt like the weightiest decision that would break me one way or the other.

That’s the only thing I’ve had to evacuate from– weather events. To more or less calmly decide with my husband if we should go; where we should go; to have all the means in the world to travel as needed, with finances in order and a minivan full of gas. It felt so hard at the time.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a sense of trauma in its own way, but I’m sitting here now, trying to imagine what it would be like to be a mother in Ukraine, trying to decide if our family should leave or stay, where we could go, how we could get there. And I know this has been happening in other parts of the world as long as history spans. It’s not just Ukraine, but that’s where the spotlight is now.

I’m reading the reports of mothers sending their children to school with stickers identifying their blood types– just in case– and it is all so surreal to me I had to check sources to verify if that was true or not. But it’s true. I am so lucky in that I have never needed to know my children’s blood types for anything. I would have to look it up.

All politics aside, there are so many innocent civilian lives being affected, so many mothers and fathers, so many grandparents, so many children, so many sons and daughters, so many who are alone and have no one to turn to in their time of fear. It’s hard to feel anything but helpless on the other side of the world. I am donating, I am praying, I am trying to hold space for those who have terrible decisions to make and who are hiding their fear from their children. 

But to the parents, to the mothers especially who either knew their children’s blood type and wrote it down or to those who had to look it up: we see you; we hear you; we are holding space for you. A mother’s love speaks the same language throughout the world; we recognize it anywhere and everywhere– and the same goes for the language of fear. We hear you. May your families be protected, and may all conflict come to a peaceful end.

Erica was born and raised in Metairie and now lives in Kenner with her husband Michael, and her three sons: Benjamin (5 years; paleontologist-artist-train engineer), Joshua (2 years; budding foodie), and the caboose, Elijah (super drooly). After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost trucks and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial pretending her house is cleaner than it is.

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