Saturday, December 15, 2012

So this is Christmas...

I was rushing around trying to make dinner on Friday afternoon for one of Dan's work colleagues who just had a baby.  I saw in passing a post on Facebook about a school shooting, with maybe 1 fatality (I figured a teacher, most likely), but I had raw chicken on my hands, so I went back to my task and was generally oblivious for the next few hours while I prepped all the chicken, fruit, and veggies for Dan to pick up.  When I sat down at my computer around 3pm, my heart broke into a thousand pieces--I felt so, so sick, and then I felt frantic for my own kids.  Jake was safe playing up in his room.  Alex was still taking a nap in his crib.  Abby.  Abby was in her first grade classroom at her school, where she is supposed to be kept safe out of my protection for almost 8 hours every weekday.  She had about an hour left of school, and I just kept irrationally thinking that I needed to call Dan to go pick her up and bring her home to me.  I needed to see her, even though I knew she was okay, but I think it was just the mom in me--I just wanted to hug my baby girl when so many parents were experiencing the unthinkable and could no longer hug their sweet babies.  I eventually called Dan to simply implore that he get to the bus stop early so that just in case they were early, he was there to watch our girl get off the bus safely.  Predictably, Dan thought I was going a little overboard--I tend to immerse myself totally in these types of tragedies, and dwell on them for days...sometimes weeks...sometimes months...  He thinks this is an unhealthy OCD aspect of my personality, but I just call it compassion--I can't help it if my heart hurts when other people are hurting.  I stood at my front door in my pjs and a heavy coat, watching for Abby's bus to pull up at the top of our loop, and I could see her pink coat as she stepped off and into Dan's safekeeping.  I waited until she got out of Dan's car, and scooped her up into the biggest hug I think I've ever given her--my sweet 6-year-old, home safe in my arms.

I cried myself to sleep last night thinking about those poor families, and those precious children.  I've cried today and felt on the verge of tears many other times--I just can't shake it.  I had to go to the commissary this morning, and I felt raw--like here I was, running totally mundane errands, when the mothers of those children most likely can't get out of bed.  I was looking at the other shoppers for hints of their sadness, and I felt an overwhelming urge to be kind to everyone.  I wondered if I had the word "MOM" stamped on my forehead, if people would see me and know that because I'm a mom, my heart is broken today.  I saw the little kids that other shoppers had brought with them, heard a parent yelling at her two kids because they were messing with the cart and blocking the aisle, and wondered if those Newtown parents had similar (totally normal) moments of parental exasperation that now fill them with regret.  The commissary was playing Christmas carols over the sound system, and I felt festivity out of my reach today.  Then, over the noise in the store, I heard the chords of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and this lyric played loud and clear:
"A very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.                                                                    Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."
Without any fear.  I just don't know how I can not be fearful as a parent, and never has that felt so acute as it does right now.  So many things we take for granted with our sweet kiddos--that they'll grow up, that they'll live a full life, that they will fulfill their potential.  Abby's dance teacher sent me an email today saying that Abby is "such a good girl and a great little dancer," and that I will be amazed at how she grows as a dancer over the next few years if she sticks with it.  I told Dan about her thoughtful email, and Dan speculated that maybe Abby will grow up to be a famous ballerina (her current dream), or maybe she'll be an artist since she loves to draw.  I immediately felt guilty for contemplating a future for our girl, because other parents had that ability stolen from them--they had so many hopes and dreams for their little ones as well.  It just tears me apart inside.

I know this feeling won't last for me--I'll eventually revert to my normal flustered parenting style with plenty of yelling and time outs, but today, I just hugged Abby, Jake, and Alex as many times as they would let me, and told them over and over again how much I love them, and how special and wonderful they are.  I have the luxury of a life unshattered tonight, and of having this sadness fade over time--that community has no such luxuries.  I owe it to them to love my babies as fiercely as possible for as long as I'm given.

the loves of my life


  1. I have been the same way, Jill. I feel ill. I have cried, I'm heart broken for them. I do the same and go "over board" when terrible things happen. I just can't help it. Sean tells me it's not reasonable to try and love your kids like you may lose them any second but I'd sure like to try. I can't even fathom that kind of pain.

    1. Dan is the same way--he keeps telling me that I can't feel guilty because we have so much that other people don't. I don't know if guilty is the right word...I just feel devastated, and so hurt over the whole thing. I don't want to think at all about the possibility of anything happening to any of my children, but after all this, it feels like we're doing those victims a disservice if we don't internalize a little and be better parents for it.