Every night, we rock our son to sleep and tuck him in his crib. I check on him at least twice, just to rub his back and make sure he's still there and still breathing. I listen to the slow inhale and exhale on the monitor in confirmation that, no, this isn't a dream - we made him. We get to keep him for always.
Every morning, we get to wake up and fight him as we try to change his diaper, and scold him as he tries to pull the dog's tail for the hundredth time. We have to watch him closely as he makes his way up and down, on and off the sofa or as he balances himself standing on top of his toy car, testing his limits and our patience.
All of these moments go by in the blink of an eye and we, as parents and as humans, so often take them for granted. But last night, 20 mothers - just like me - didn't get to check in on their children in the middle of the night. And they didn't get to fight with them this morning to brush their teeth or remind them for the millionth time not to play with their food. 20 sets of parents realized all of our worst fear yesterday - they lost their children. Their little babies, that they were supposed to get to keep for always.
What happened in Connecticut is hard for anyone to process, but it seems especially difficult for those of us that are parents. Children are not supposed to die. Children are not supposed to die senselessly and gruesomely. I think every parent went to sleep last night with a broken heart, and could hear the faint cries of forty parents grieving off in the distance.
And while they grieve, the rest of the world is watching. Mostly sending prayers or lighting candles, grieving with them and thanking their lucky stars it didn't happen to us. Almost everyone wants to know why and how and why. Some are angry. Some have a renewed fear of the world and lost faith in humanity. And others are starting a fight over gun control and mental health. All of these responses are normal, and have a place.
Me? I am grieving for all those who lost someone yesterday. I'm realizing my own false sense of security in our mundane, every day lives. I am a little more thankful for all that we have. I am hopeful that there is still more good in this world than evil, and one day we won't turn on the news to hear stories like this.
As parents, we are all just doing the best we can. As parents, we innately judge how others choose to parent. As parents, we are riddled with guilt for things we do or do not do. As parents, we take for granted our children's teachers and caregivers. As parents, we get so bogged down in the stress that we don't enjoy the little things.
Yesterday, many lives were changed forever. And the world became a little less innocent. But, in a few weeks or a few months, things will go back to normal for most of us. And when it does, I hope we take with us a few things:
A little less judgement... you never know what battle someone else might be facing. As parents we're all doing the hardest job there is. Isn't it time to support each other instead of picking one another apart?
A little more compassion toward others... like the teachers who showed unconditional love and sacrifice as they tried to protect and save as many children as they could. The world would be a better place if we all had that kind of heart.
A little more gratitude... We get to breathe in and out each day without pain. We get to hug our babies and move on, as others have to learn to cope with the ultimate loss and live without parts of their soul. Let's, the rest of us, stop sweating the small stuff.
A lot more love. Love for each other. Love for our children. This world can clearly use more love.
Our hearts go out to the families in Newtown, CT today and for the rest of time...you may never be whole again, but our family sends the thoughts and prayers that some day you are able to heal. <3