Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What the What?

That is what Anna says for something incredible or unbelievable.  That is how I have been feeling since Friday...the day of the unimaginable tragedy in Connecticut.  What the what?  How could something like this happen to beautiful innocent children?  How will the surviving children who witnessed unspeakable sights recover?  How will the parents whose children were murdered go on?  Why would a mother keep so many guns in her home she shared with her troubled child?  The questions go on and on and for many of them there will be no answers.  We will never know.

I have a few draft blog entries I have been working on.  There was one I started before the school shooting.  In it I actually was talking about home schooling...I wrote how I thought it wasn't for me.  The reasons being; 1.)  I am not a hippie parent, 2) that I believe in socializing my kids and having them be part of a societal group 3.) I get sidetracked easily...I would be teaching the girls a science lesson and the phone rings... it would be a good hour into the phone call when I realize I ditched the kids mid experiment and 4.) honestly, I am just way too lazy to home school my kids.  That was BEFORE Sandy Hook.  Since then I have honestly looked up the Home Schooling laws here in my state and I have seriously started thinking about it.  I have even thought about asking some other moms if they wanted in on it so the kids would have a few hand picked classmates.  I thought I had several more years before we needed to worry about school shootings.  But our country has entered a new low...children killed while learning their ABC's.  Sara goes to preschool in the local elementary school.  Four days a week I entrust Sara to her teachers.  As a parent you always worry about your children.  It is part of a parents DNA.  As a former preschool teacher I understand part of a teacher's job is to protect and keep your students safe.  I trust the teachers to keep Sara safe from playground bullies and to protect and build her self confidence and self esteem.  A charge in itself daunting, on top of it they are also responsible for teaching them academics.  It had NEVER crossed my mind that her elementary school teachers may someday have to protect her life from a mad man with an assault rifle.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  Chuck had Monday off and Anna's playgroup is over, we were just going to hang out.  I offered Sara the chance to stay home with us.  I was really hoping she would take me up on it.  She opted for school.  It was gut wrenching seeing her walk out the door.  Chuck took her to school that morning which is just as well because I was on the verge of tears as it was, had I seen the police car parked outside I would have lost it.  Even Chuck, who normally is not very reactionary got choked up.  She needs to go to school, all children do but every parent I spoke to had the same reaction that has become especially hard letting them go.

All parents have to make decisions for their own children.  Chuck and I have made a conscience decision to not tell Sara about the shooting.  Knowing her baseline anxiety issues combined with her age and developmental level we decided she did not need to know.  It is not that we believe in shielding our children from the world around them. We are quite honest with our kids; they know the proper names for ALL their body parts, they know that sometimes bad things happen, they know that pets and people die, sadly, even children.  But, this, this is just too much.  I have no answers for them this time.  We have not watched the news since Friday.  I have not listened to talk radio either.  I do put the TV on at around 10 p.m. hours after they have gone to bed, just to make sure they don't sneak out and see something they shouldn't.  I sit horrified listening to parents of the murdered children, stories of the teachers that gave their lives for children they have only known for 4 months and just seeing so many people broken hearted.  Anderson Cooper started to cry during one of his reports.   It was just too much for me.  I put on Jimmy Kimmel for a break from the unbearable sadness.  He came on and during his live monologue he started to cry.  He is a comedian.  He is supposed to be light hearted and make people laugh.  Even he is just so upset by this.  This tragedy has cut straight to the core of so many people on so many levels.  Something has to be done. I am not going to get into a debate about gun control legislation or the treatment of the mentally ill in this country.  I have my opinions on those issues, but no real answers...

But here is what I DO know...due to some hard life lessons and working in pediatrics for 13 years, many of those years in an ER and most recently an intensive care unit, I do know tomorrow is promised to no one.  I have seen far too many lives forever changed in an instant.  Many people may think seeing some of the tragic things I have seen over the years is a curse.  I like to think of it as a blessing.  It has made me a better parent.  I know that I don't get a second chance with my kid's childhood. I try to make it count now, today.  I put a joke in Sara's lunchbox everyday, it is a pain in the neck, but I want her to know that I am thinking about her even when we are not together.  Thanks to my friend Dawn I do "play, chores, play" with the girls.  20 minutes to play, 20 minutes of chores and then back to playing.  I don't want them to think back on their childhood and remember me always cleaning the house and not playing with them.  I watch all their "shows" they put on for us, I read to them every night before bed, and I always, ALWAYS put them, their well being and happiness before my own.  Life with children can and does get crazy and at times you get bogged down in the minutia of the day to day but I want my children to find the positive in every day.  To that end every night at dinner we all go around the table and talk about the favorite part of our day.  The girls love this, especially Anna...many nights I haven't completely sat down and she is asking about all of our days.  It is not always unicorns and sunshine in our house but literally at the end of the day I want them to know how much I love them.  I tell them both how much I love them and I always say, "with all the children in the world I have the best two...I am so lucky to be your mommy".  I have done this long before Sandy Hook and I will continue to do it for as long as they let me...and even after when they will need to hear it the most.   Remember after 9/11 how the entire country was so nice and friendly?  People would let you merge on the highway, wouldn't complain how long they were waiting in a line...stuff like that.  The country was a kinder, gentler place.  It lasted about a month or two and then faded away.  Everyone has been saying how they are hugging their kids tighter...that is wonderful.  I think the best way to honor those poor babies that were murdered and their heartbroken parents that can never hug their children again is to continue to hold them tight and tell them how much you love them and don't stop in a month or two...but do it every chance you get!!  That is really honoring their legacy...not posting a poem on Facebook about how the children killed in the shooting are on a "field trip"... as a parent I found that offensive.  A field trip implies a special day trip, something they will return from at the end of the day.  These children are dead, they are not just at the zoo or museum...they are not coming back...sorry, my blog, my opinions.  So if you are a parent or have children in your lives in any capacity, or anyone loved one for that matter, take the time and do right by them.. EVERYDAY!! may not have a chance to make it up to them tomorrow.

I am not a perfect parent.  Chuck is not a perfect parent, but, I am so grateful that he is a very hands on, present father invested in parenting his girls.  Chuck and I were just talking about this recently.  About 80% of the time I am a really good mom.  20% not so much.  But I am working at changing that stat.  In my blog I go on and on about my kids, their crazy antics and how more often than not they drive me nuts but I have gone on record with this hardest, longest, most challenging day as a mother is a 100 times better than my greatest day before I had children...

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