I am in shock.
I have just learned about the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that has left over twenty people, mostly children, dead. The hair on my arms is standing up. My stomach is churning. I feel as though I might be sick. I am desperately trying not to let the tidal wave of tears break free. I am on my lunch break at work and writing is the only way I can get myself through this right now.
I am aching for the parents who sent their little ones off to school this morning, having no idea what would occur after they waved goodbye. For some, that would be their very last goodbye. I am aching for the parents whose children are, thankfully, still alive, but in emotional states that I cannot even begin to fathom. I am aching for the teachers who have a long, hard road ahead of them. My heart aches for them.
At the same time, I can’t help but think about my own children and my own goodbye this morning. My girls and I said our goodbyes, thick with smiles and warm hugs and plenty of “I love you’s”. My son was dragging his feet as it was time to go and I snapped at him. I can still hear my voice taking that certain edge to it.
“Hurry up! We’re late! WHERE are your clean socks!”
My barking sent him ricocheting up the stairs quickly, frantically looking for a pair of clean socks. I instantly regreted my actions. In the car, I apologized for being short with him. When I dropped him off at school, he shot his normal goodbye wink to me as he walked into the building. I felt better, then, knowing he was okay. I felt better, then, and not so guilty for my less than stellar parenting moment that morning.
But now, in wake of what is happening in Connecticut, I am beating myself up, wishing I hadn’t been so snappy with him. He didn’t deserve it. He deserved two minutes of my patience. The benefit of me taking a deep breath and working through the sock-hunt together would have been great. Our mornings, our beautiful beginning to each beautiful day, deserve my patience. My children deserve the best of me as they begin each day. But in the moment, I couldn’t see that and failed to help nourish my son’s blooming spirit.
When tragedies like these happen, it’s common for us to look inward and to feel thankful for what we have. Yes, I am thankful for my children, for my husband. I am blessed that they are all healthy and that we have each other. But, what good does the fleeting thought of thankfulness do if after the news stories dissipate, we go back to these patterns, these habits that behind closed doors, we deeply wish we could improve upon?
Instead of posting on Facebook and glazing over at the news stories, can we instead take this tragedy as an opportunity to grow? I realize I sound preachy. Who am I to give advice during a time like this? Maybe I’m naive to think that one little post on one local moms blog might inspire something amazing. My emotions are running high right now and I just can’t help but think that, like me, more parents want to do something. To change something. Because in the backs of many parents’ minds, is the lingering thought that this just as easily could have happened to us. And there’s that lingering thought that maybe, we’re taking something for granted. It’s an uneasy feeling, comparing all that I have to all that these poor families have lost. So this is how I will show that I am grateful:
I vow here and now to put every effort into making my childrens’ mornings more pleasant. I will continue to prepare lunches and backpacks the night before so that I’m not scrambling in the mornings to get too much done in too little time. I will listen to their dreams, I will take special breakfast requests, I will entertain last minute outfit changes. I will put ponytails in my two year old’s hair, at her request, even though I know by the time she gets to school, they will be pulled out. I will allow my son three more minutes with his shark and block creations when my head tells me he should be getting dressed.
Life is busy. I personally believe parenting is the hardest job in the world. But every single child is a gift and he/she should be treated this way, every single day.
If your children are in school/daycare, how was your send off today? Yesterday? Guess what? You’re lucky enough that on Monday, you get a do-over. You have a second chance.
I dare you to change something about your day with your children. Make it the best you possibly can. BE the best you possibly can.
Slow down. Listen. Repeat.