When the news broke of the terrorist attack on Ariana Grande's concert this week, my husband and I were devastated. We knew what was coming, because we knew what Ariana Grande's fan base looked like. And the pictures of the victims of Manchester's horrific terror attack bore this out—so far we know that among the 22 dead are an 8-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl, and an 18-year-old girl, all vibrant and beaming in pictures. Also among the victims: parents, there to help their kids enjoy the experience of seeing their favorite singer perform. And they're altogether too much like my own 10-year-old and nearly 13-year-old, and my husband and me.
Like many parents yesterday, I wanted to keep my children close to me, hug them a little tighter, hide them away from a world that seems hell-bent on self-destruction. Like many parents yesterday, I was afraid. I started rethinking plans we already had—concert tickets, sleepaway camps, vacation plans. Maybe now's the time to just stay at home.
But that would be a huge mistake. The last thing my kids need is a smaller life, one confined to the couch and the screen, kept to the safe-seeming borders of our suburban neighborhood. My daughters deserve the opportunity to experience more—the joy and exilharation of seeing a favorite singer or dancer perform, the thrill of an adventure beyond their comfort zone, the excitement of immersing themselves in another country's culture and experimenting with something new. And yes, they deserve the chance to take risks, to experience failure, disappointment, and perhaps, a small degree of danger.
To me, life is the greatest adventure of all—and I'm instilling that philosophy in my kids, one adventure at a time. My daughters have seen ballets and concerts and a ton of Broadway shows. They've ridden horses, kayaked, snorkeled, and swam with stingrays. Their passports are well used: They've walked the Great Wall, made sushi in Tokyo, and nearly got swept out to sea in the Caribbean. And even though some of our adventures are misadventures, and even though attacks like this strike fear in my heart, I'm not stopping now.
Because here's the thing: Tragedies happen everywhere, every single day. We've lost loved ones way too soon to cancer, to accidents, to mundane illness and basic bad luck. And you simply can't bubble wrap your children and protect them from everything. Our odds of falling victim to a terror attack—even in our hometown, a stone's throw from New York City—are even smaller than the odds of getting struck by lightning. I'm willing to take that kind of risk for the joy of seeing my ballerina-in-training light up at Misty Copeland's performance of Giselle this week, or being able to take my younger daughter to Paris so she can see the Mona Lisa (currently on her bucket list).
A life well lived is a life well experienced. It's a life where you do your best to be kind, to find joy, to savor the beautiful and weird and amazing people and experiences you can find down the street or on the other side of the planet. And if I cut myself and my children off from living that kind of life, that would be the biggest tragedy of all.
Lisa Milbrand is Parents.com's In Name Only blogger and a mom of two.