In light of the events of the day (and the events of many days, though today more deliberately and starkly than usual) I find myself evaluating my parenting, particularly in terms of my personal response to emergencies, and my overall approach to the world.
I’m realizing that my response to this was, in essence, the same as one one of my lads got pushed by the other, and came to me with blood streaming down his face the other night. I gathered him in, held him close, took care of what I could, let him take care of himself when he took the tissues away from me, and after a cuddle I put him to bed where he belonged, with a kiss and a hug, and telling him I love him.
Today, when I found out what happened in Connecticut, I went into the living room where the lads were watching television with my mother, and sat on the couch. “Can I snuggle with you, mama?” asked the older boy, and of course I said yes. For a half hour or so I simply sat with him tucked under my arm, and his little brother sprawled across my lap, holding them close and letting them wriggle away when they wanted to.
I’m back at my computer now, having made them dinner, and am trying to wrangle in my focus on work. They’re enjoying a Friday night movie-and-pizza in the next room, and I’ll probably pop back in there again for more snuggles. Later there will be popcorn for dessert, and then likely the usual rigamarole of bedtime boo-hoos and idunwannas, which will be laid to rest with a story and a tucking-in and a kiss on the forehead. I will tell them I love them, and good night, because I tell them every night that I love them.
Something happened today, and it was something terrible. It’s something I cannot change. I cannot fix. I cannot offer the cold comfort of a stranger to anyone who was or is there. That piece of the world is out of my reach, and I have no control.
I have trouble with not having control. So I look at where I do have control.
I have the ability to not force my children to attempt to comprehend this event that is not immediately affecting them. They will probably learn about it when they’re older. I have control over giving them their dinner and some entertainment, and the evening routine to which they are used. Tomorrow they will probably snuggle me awake as I groan and ask them to go play quietly in their room for ten more minutes. We’ll get dressed and I will tell them I love them, and make them breakfast. We will see friends, and we will play. They will learn things about their world, because they learn things every day. They are always learning, and I love to teach them.
One of the things they’re going to need to learn is how to cope with the painful fallout of fear; my deep hope is that they learn from the way that I cope with their own pains, their own fears. Fear has a way of replicating and begetting itself, of becoming blame and accusation and more fear and more pain, terrible and cyclical and and and and and.
And I don’t like fear. I don’t like fear, or anger, or the sick clinch of my gut in bitterness and rage. I don’t like feeling wounded.
So I love them.
I love them and I heal them, or I give them room to heal themselves, and I love them.
To help the world, to even just help the boys, I must first help myself to simply let my heart be open. It does not mean that I am not sad. I take a deep breath and I breathe in the sorrow, and the fear, and I let it back out. I love. I love, and I relax myself inside, and I will not ball up tight inside myself with fear. That road is a tightening gyre that gets me twisted up and lost inside myself, and helps nothing, heals no one.
Even if I can do nothing concrete, I can love. Because love has a way of replicating and begetting itself, of becoming hope and strength and help and healing and and and.
If you can see this, know this: you are loved.