How does one begin a post like this? What words do you choose? Sometimes there are no words.
I vaguely remember Oklahoma City and my shock. But I was a college student and self absorbed. I was not a mother.
I remember Colombine - I was living there when it happened. I remember that shock, panic, the grief-filled aftermath. But I was not a mother.
I remember 911. I lit candles, I attended services and I mourned with the nation. I felt the anger and lived the questions. But I was not a mother.
I remember the savage losses since. Those graphically reported by our efficient media. I remember the nausea and the gut-punch that came with each. The anger. For some of those, I was already a parent. For some, I had not yet crossed that threshold.
Six years ago, I became a mother. The game changed. And this latest Taking....this Taking of our children and those who have pledged to love and lead them...this one has hit me. As it has millions of others.
Last Friday, I pulled myself together enough for Ally and I to pick Ari up from school. I walked down the sidewalk with a fellow class parent, "that would've been our kids," he said. Standing outside Ari's room, waiting for the bell to ring, I bent down and held Ally. Looking across the sidewalk, I saw a mom I knew from soccer, holding her three year old daughter while she waited for her six year old son. We didn't speak, but we looked at each other over the downy top of our daughters' heads. When the bell rang, her son bounced out of the room. "There's our guy," I heard her say. And she grabbed him tight.
I slept with my own six year old that night.
That's about all you can do. You pull them close, hold them tight. You indulge the questions about puddles and cats and sticks...you let them have a candy cane. You sit down and really listen to their theories on the physics of Beyblades and about how their day went, without parenting or looking for the lesson. Because what else can you do?
Maybe that's all you should do. Leave the protests and the policy-making to those whose children have grown. Give your own small ones love and time while they're still growing. Watch them. Don't waste the time only to have regrets later. Easier said than done, I know...though I've found myself landing on the "easier" side of this equation a lot more over the past week. Perspective.