Like every parent in America, this week I find myself heartbroken and overwhelmed. I hesitated when thinking of writing this post. Maybe there’s no point in adding to the chatter, but this blog has always served as a journal, and sometimes that includes me processing my feelings through typing.
The thing about this tragedy is that it takes away our sense of safety and tries to replace it with fear. We want so badly to believe that if we are good enough parents, we can protect our children. The reality is that we are painfully limited in our powers of protection. I believe that I make decisions every day that help lessen the chances that Lincoln will be harmed, but no matter what I do, I can’t wrap him in a bubble and fully guarantee that nothing bad will happen to him. Believe me, I have tried to figure out a way to do that. I can only do my best and pray that it’s enough.
As I read articles online Friday and learned about the awful thing that had happened in Connecticut, I sat in my house and cried. My tears were for mothers and fathers whose babies were ripped from them in a senseless act of violence. I couldn’t stop the tears when I thought of the unopened gifts sitting under the tree that had been carefully chosen by the parents of these little ones. My tears were for teachers who won’t return home to their families. I cried thinking of raising my son in a world where even an elementary school isn’t a safe haven. One of the most difficult things for me is that I’m a fixer. You have a problem? Let’s find a solution. I like to be a doer. A helpless feeling came over me when I tried to wrap my brain around how this could have happened and what we could do as a society to make sure it never happens again. There’s no simple solution. There are only dozens of variables and mountainous problems. Too many questions and not enough answers. I guess the best I can do is to learn what I can from this painful tragedy.
So in light of this terrible thing, I want to look at life & parenting a little differently. Friday morning I was so angry with Lincoln for peeing on the carpet. I found myself so frustrated by his actions. And then I read the story, and I cried and scolded myself for getting so worked up over nothing. I thought of the moms who would give anything, anything to clean up a mess made by their child. I thought how they would long to see trains all over the living room floor again or pick up smelly shoes left where they don’t belong. God help me to savor every single moment spent with my family. I can’t be perfect, and I’m not ever going to enjoy cleaning messes or disciplining a rowdy kid, but I can be thankful that I have that kid to clean up after and to try to shape & mold through discipline. I struggle sometimes to not sweat the small stuff. I like order and I like obedience, and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of that in my life right now with a 2.5 year old boy. But I am trying. I am really trying to stop & ask myself, “Will this matter tomorrow? Will this matter a month from now? Will I still be this upset over this moment 5 years from now?” Because if the answer is no, I want to take a deep breath and let.it.go. I don’t want to spend my time frustrated and angry when we live in a world where it’s not safe to go to the mall, the movies or a school campus. I am not promised tomorrow with my baby, and he is not promised tomorrow with me.
The other thing that has struck me is thinking what I want to teach my son about this day when he’s older. I don’t know anything about the young man that committed this act of violence, but my mind wanders and wonders what kind of life & childhood he had that led him to this place. I feel like when the full story comes out about the people behind these violent crimes, there is often a common thread of metal disease, being mistreated or bullied, etc. I’m not saying anyone could have stopped this or other shootings from happening, because I don’t know if they could have. I only know that when I think about there being people walking among us who have enough hate or hurt or dysfunction to want to spread all of their hurt onto others, I want to be kind. Don’t get me wrong, there is never any excuse to murder, and the idea of killing children is unimaginably horrible. Nothing that happened to you in your past could ever justify that. I just know that I want to be conscious of how I treat others and how I teach my son to treat people. You never know the journey that others are on. You usually have no idea the battles they have fought. God help me to spread love and kindness. I want to treat even those who have been forgotten about by our society for whatever reason with respect & dignity. I want to raise a son who stands up for the kid being ostracized & bullied. I want him to be gentle and kind with everyone he meets. I want to look the gas station attendant or the grocery store clerk in the eyes when I go through the line. I want to uplift people & not bring them down. God help me to not be a part of the problem of a society that can at times feel so disconnected, calloused and cold.
I wish I could take away the hurt. I wish I could rewind time and fix it all before it happened. All I can do now is pray, honor the memory of those lost, cherish the fact that I still have my baby, and be a person who walks out love and kindness.