While rocking my daughter to sleep last night, I gazed upon her little face and watched her eyes flutter closed as her breathing slowed. I wanted nothing in the world to disturb her sleep. I wanted to take onto myself all the discomfort she’s experiencing from the teeth poking through her gums, that she might sleep peacefully through the night.
I pondered the future, knowing that at some point I’d have to release my beautiful little angel into the harsh, uncaring world around us. I won’t be able to protect her from all that will harm her. I can only do my best to equip her with the skills and self-confidence necessary to face each challenge with dignity and courage.
I know that my concerns for her are deeply “first world problems”: she’s well fed, sheltered, fiercely loved and wanted. She’ll hopefully never experience true hunger, or worry about where she’ll find warmth in the heart of winter.
I began to wonder what other parents around the world and through history felt when they held their kids. Certainly they shared my desire to give the world to their progeny, and to see them grow up healthy and happy. But what would that be like for a near-destitute farmer in Mexico, living in the shadow of a drug cartel? What concerns must an Afghan parent feel when they hold their child at night, ostensibly in the middle of a war zone?
What about someone like a king or queen, hundreds of years ago? Did they worry about their little baby being assassinated for political purposes before they could blossom into a wonderful young adult? Did the weight of authority weigh on their shoulders, worrying that their kid might not live up to the demands of the office they were to inherit?
And royalty aside, what would a peasant feel while holding their infant late at night, soothing them to sleep?