When I was younger, unmarried, and without kids, I was not an openly emotional person. Sure, I had feelings about what was going on in the world, but I never got emotional.
I've always been a news hound, both before my years in Journalism school and after I stopped writing for newspapers. I'm always listening to news on the radio; I read a lot on the Internet; and most evenings I write this blog while sitting in front of The National, as I'm doing while writing this post.
But things have changed over the years. In the past, I'd watch disturbing news about wars, people dealing with natural disasters, and local crimes and shake my head, thinking that's a shame. Those poor people. Now, I get angry over what I see happening to the people in Syria. I want to help survivors of the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
And when I learn of the tragedies that involve children, I get choked up. I get teary. I can't speak without sobbing a little.
Being a parent changes you.
Before I started writing this post, I watched the news of the bus crash near Sierre, Switzerland, learned of the 22 children and six adults from Belgium, who lost their lives in a tunnel, on their way home from a ski trip. Those children were 11 and 12 years old. Just older than my oldest daughter. I heard the eye witness, who arrived on the scene shortly after the crash, who saw some children wandering away from the bus. I pictured my child, scared, alone, and hurt, not knowing what to do as her friends lay injured or dead in the wreckage.
And I wept.
My heart went out to the families. They were living their worst nightmare.
The following story followed the trial of the killers of Tori Stafford. And I couldn't watch it all. Perhaps it's because the eight-year-old girl reminds me of my eight-year-old. It's a horrible story. I wept, had to walk out of the room when the details of the crime were revealed.
How could you kill a child? What kind of monster repeatedly hits an eight-year-old with a hammer?
When I heard news about tragedies befalling a child, before I had my own, I condemned it. But when I now hear such sad news as I saw on last night's broadcast, I could better empathize because I'm a parent. As a parent, I can feel for the parents of the victims. This winter, my eldest went on school ski trips, got to the slopes by bus. I have an eight-year-old who might be lured by someone she knows.
And now a deep breath. This post is darker than I wanted to go.
I used to be a news hound. But being a parent has softened me. I can't digest all news that is put before me. I can't handle bad news that involves children.
Maybe, becoming a parent has made me more human. And that's a price I willingly pay.