Saturday, December 29, 2012

Please don't let me screw them up.

I overthink nearly every aspect of my life--mostly my mothering. It's overwhelming and scary to have the ability to screw up three wonderful people God has placed in my really incapable hands. People have commented favorably on mine and Chloe's relationship. And that both humbles and amazes me. I can't take credit for our relationship; it is "but for the grace of God." I mean, my whole life is, but Chloe who transitioned from my treasured baby to my very best friend; well, she is just a brilliant shining example of God's grace in my life.

So brilliant that if I could hang up my mothering hat when she went to college, Brad Bell and I could exchange high fives and begin redecorating our empty nest. Alas, there are these other two children whose lives I can still potentially ruin.

I will readily admit, that I think I'm a better girl mom. I like to shop and do makeup and girly stuff. I don't dislike sports, but I will pick Cosmo over Sports Illustrated any day, and unless the Buckeyes are playing, I'm probably reading rather than watching the game. But, I love my son very much. So much so that in this awkward tween phase where he doesn't cuddle as much or share as many secrets or kiss me on the face anymore, sometimes I sneak into his room a few minutes before he has to get up just so I can snuggle with him and kiss his head. I guess that's kind of a creepy stalker move, but I do it anyway. 

It's just that we don't enjoy a lot of the same things. I treasure our shared interests and am always trying to cultivate more. I love watching him play every sport, but if he had to choose someone to hang with, it would be Daddy. And that's okay. Brad is a really good dad, and in many ways, he gets to be the kind of dad to P that he always wanted. Plus, sometimes they are each other's only refuge in this house full of hormones and hairspray.

Then there's Lily. If I'm gonna screw up any of them, it will be her. She is so much like me it is simultaneously amazing and infuriating. I cannot point out one of her flaws without reprimanding myself in the same breath. I mean, I do, but to be fair and honest, I have to put myself in check at the same time because she learned each bad behavior somewhere, and Brad rarely screams and I don't know if I've ever seen him throw a tantrum.

Still, there she is, the baby that I didn't want (we planned for two kids: one boy and one girl) and never expected--the child who pushes me to the edge of sanity on a daily basis. She has taught me more about myself in six short years than I learned in nearly 40 on my own.

So as I ponder 2012's blessings and trials, I think about what each of these children taught me. Chloe taught me unconditional love. You know, the kind of love you don't even realize you are capable of feeling until your whole heart has been pulled from your body and is curled up on your chest. She inspires me not only to be a better mother, but also to be a better person, as I pray to live up to the image she has of me. P taught me joy, and he delights me on a daily basis with his sweet spirit and caring compassionate heart. I pray we raise him into a great man, husband, and father. Lily has taught me to let go of my plans and give in to God's will. She is full of fire and passion, and I pray I can guide her to use her powers for good rather than evil.

I pray every day to be the mom each of them needs. I pray that God helps me guide them in the direction He has planned for their lives. I pray that I don't saddle them with any of my own insecurities and flaws and shortcomings. I pray that I don't screw them up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It could have been my baby



I’ve carefully avoided news coverage and discussions of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Tragedies of this magnitude are completely debilitating to me. Unfortunately, there’s really no avoiding it. Talking with a friend, she mentioned how sad she was when she looked in her closet and saw her kids gifts piled up, and her daughter’s little velvet Christmas dress. That made me think of how many little velvet Christmas dresses won’t get worn, or worse yet, will get worn in a casket. 

Nearly everyone is affected by this in one way or another, but those of us who have 6-year-olds may feel slightly more empathy and nausea. I imagine my teeny-tiny girl in her classroom with her friends and her teacher, laughing, smiling, learning…I can’t imagine what a bullet from a hunting rifle would do to her itty bitty body. I can’t imagine hearing on the news that a massacre occurred at her school. I can’t imagine trying to pick up my life and go on, and my heart breaks at the sadness, the helplessness that these families must feel.

I read the status updates, people calling for stricter gun legislation. People want to “fix” this. I listened to the message from our superintendent saying that we shouldn’t be afraid to send our kids to school on Monday because they had a plan in place to keep them safe. I’m guessing Sandy Hook had a plan too. But I doubt these events happen in the way schools practice and plan for them to occur. How do you plan for that kind of madness? “Lockdowns’ don’t stop bullets.

And what about the shooter? People are horrified at the thought of him and the heinous acts he’s committed. But really, what happened to him? I read he had some form of autism? He killed his mother. How messed up must your mind be if you kill your mother and then a bunch of babies? Maybe he’s in hell. Maybe he was all ready in hell. 

I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I have puffy eyes, a fatigued brain, and a horrible brain-numbing headache. My children and husband question why our God would let this happen. If it happened to these children in Connecticut, who’s to say it won’t happen to them? I can’t answer them. I try to offer reassurance, but right now, I need more than I have to give.

I don’t know what to pray for anymore. That some sort of good might come from so much heartbreak seems far-fetched. I pray that God heals these broken parents and fractured families. And I pray for the safety of my own children. I don’t ask why pray for understanding because I don’t want to understand why these things keep happening. I just pray that they stop happening.