I like to have a space for my photos, but I really like to own a space where I can write. Writing is therapeutic for me. This blog is 100% self-serving because it helps me see our similarities and that comforts me. I think it helps others to see our similarities too. Or maybe that’s me selfishly hoping…
Today, I’m not happy. I’m guessing most Americans are not happy. We shouldn’t be. We’re slowly falling apart and the arguing will leave us so divided we’ll never fix ourselves. More gun control vs. less gun control. Health care access vs. the cost of health care access. We’ll all get caught up in the struggle. Some will say it’s American to own guns. That you can’t stop sick people from slaughtering innocent people. It’s a sad fact of life. They’re going to wave the second Amendment in our faces and Congress will convene to discuss it. I disagree with all of them and there are plenty of facts to make that point. God is tossed around like a vengeful person: Believe in him all the time and good things happen. Let him in the classroom and this won’t happen. And if you’re brave to point out that not everyone believes God works like that, watch out.
On FB and blog everywhere, mothers are vowing to change. To be grateful for their children every second of their lives. Because one day they could possibly be ripped from their arms. To honor the memories of the dead, they will love more fiercely than before. In the face of this kind of tragedy, it’s an inevitable reaction. You’re faced with the sick possibility that has always lurked. It’s a reminder that someday it might visit your home. When Coop came home from school on Friday, I had tears in my eyes and I hugged him tighter. That night I marveled at how beautiful and how easily my children love. I happily prepared chicken fingers for dinner that I knew they wouldn’t finish. And I easily gave them snacks afterwards. On Saturday, I played more games of Go Fish than I had really wanted to play. And on Sunday, I poured an extra big bowl of non-healthy cereal. I got to feed my children when other families didn’t.
But today, I have to return to my Thursday (12/13) way of life. I must live that way. Not ignorantly or disrespectfully, but I can’t live in fear. And a heightened sense of gratitude won’t help either. I won’t happily clean their toys because they refused to do it after being asked three times. I won’t do it because my children are alive to leave a mess. I won’t fill them with extra candy just because I can. I hugged Coop and watched him cross the street to go to school. I trust that his school will do everything in their power to keep him safe, just like I did all last week. If I don’t, I’d end up homeschooling him. I love him too much to subject him to my piss-poor teaching abilities. When they get out of bed fourteen times tonight (I know they will), I’ll get angry. And I won’t feel guilty about it. I love my children as much as any other mother and I’ve been loving them fiercely since their first breath. Parenting is extremely difficult and exhausting. I’ll never feel awful for admitting that.
My job is to raise respectful and happy adults. And this is not possible if I parent from a fearful place. I cannot successfully parent them as if one day they won’t come home. I stayed away from the news because that information won’t help me. It will break me. It will make me untrusting and afraid of our world. A very very bad thing happened and my heart breaks. I don’t need to know what his neighbor thought of him. I don’t need to know which Christmas present will forever stay wrapped in their parents’ closet. I didn’t discuss the events with my children. I do not think me explaining the shootings to a four and seven year-old was necessary. How do I answer their questions: Why? Are they dead? Who does that? What if it happens at my school? I don’t have those answers. No one does. And coming up with safe responses won’t make them feel safe or protect them in an event that it does happen at their schools. I’m guessing Coop will come home and ask me questions. He did after the last shooting. And I will do my best to be calm his fears.
So today, we return to living. We’ll laugh when Becks says “Go Fish sucker.” I’ll get angry when dinner goes uneaten. I will get very pissy when three seconds after the uneaten dinner, I’m asked for a snack. Someone will lose video game privileges when their tone gets sassy. I will allow extra tv time when I need to edit some photos. I will hunt down Owl Blankie when it was left in the car. I will do all of this because by the grace of God, I’m able to return to normal. That fact is not lost on me. And I’m not sticking my head in the sand. I’m not naively returning to normal. But I’m also not living as if one day my children will disappear. Doing so would rob me of today and would never prepare me for that event.
Perhaps one day, I won’t get to return to normal. Our normal could be ultimately ruined. Yes, I will spend a lifetime angry at my once scolding tone or my refusal to tuck them into bed for the sixth time. But today I get to return to our normal and a return to normal is a slap in Fear’s face. I’m assuming a lot of people need to slap Fear around a bit. I’m sorry that I can’t live like tomorrow might be my last day on earth. If I did, I’d lay in bed crying until my last breath was yanked out. I’m not that strong. I live without regret, but I also hope I have a few more years left on this earth. And if you think that’s cowardly or ignorant, so be it. For me it’s survival. I never would have fallen in love or even had children if I lived like it all could be taken away in a second. Who wants that pain? Not me. Again, I’m not naive. I guess I’m a gambling for a long life. And today, I’m going all in.
Remember the sacrifices those adults took to save the lives of their students. Remember to fight for what you believe in. Remember how life is short and precious. Remember your job is to prepare your children for a long healthy life when it isn’t a guarantee Remember to do the very best by your children. Because one day they will be adults and will have to power to make laws. Hopefully they can make the changes that so many of today’s leaders refuse to tackle.