Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear, Guilt, and Carrying On (One Mom's Personal Reaction to the Sandy Hook Massacre)

Sometimes a "No" can become a "yes." It turns out, I have a full time job now. So much can happen in a span of a week. Long story extremely short: The fourth job I interviewed for and turned down, called me back a couple of days later with a new position and a better offer. (I guess they really liked me! Which is good, because I really like them.) I will start January 2, 2013 and work during my daughter S's school hours. B, my youngest daughter, will go to daycare. The best part is that I will still have plenty of hours during the day to help with homework, run errands, and work on my blog and book. It's the perfect situation for me.

Of course, with the excitement of additional income and a new adventure comes nervous feelings. I've been a stay at home mom for over three and a half years. In a little over two weeks, I will have to completely adjust my schedule. Gone are the days of wearing my yoga pants three days in a row. I'll have to get completely dressed before 6:00 AM, get both kids up and dressed, and send them off to their respective schools before I can start my day. I remember what it was like to work full time with just one child. Getting it all done with two is a daunting task. I'm nervous about how B will respond to daycare. She has extreme separation anxiety right now. B has to be by my side at all times. She panics when I close the bathroom door. If I walk out of the room, she follows me. I wake up at 3:00 AM with her laying on top of me every night. I almost pity her daycare teacher. The poor lady will have her hands full. 

Those were the fears whispering in my ear all week. They were little doubts that I could reason through and assure myself that it was all going to be okay. I knew it was little jitters due to change and when I would feel overwhelmed, I would imagine the training montage from Rocky IV and know that I could do it. Then Friday afternoon, I learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people lost their lives in a shooting rampage. Twenty of them were very young children. Four of them were the same age as my daughter, S. Suddenly, the nerves I had about the new routine were replaced with a new fear, a completely unexpected terrible fear. That could have been my daughter.

I could feel the blood drain from my face. And then, I cried. I sobbed. I yelled. I sat still and quiet. I could feel a sharp pain in my chest as I read the names of the adults and children lost. I crumbled at the sight of children running for their lives. I cursed the monster who did all this damage. (I refuse to write his name. Evil does not deserve a name.) I asked questions. Why? How could you? I couldn't imagine how terrified those little babies felt. I couldn't imagine how terrified the parents and teachers felt. I praised the adults that did everything they could to protect their children. I cheered on the first responders and all the men and women who jumped into action. I questioned God and my personal faith. (I'm sure I wasn't alone.) I did not know a single person who died on Friday, but as a mother, the instinct to protect our young went into over drive and I felt a sharp pang of sorrow for the parents who had their children ripped from their lives on a random Friday.

I became fearful of other people... The shadows that could very easily take my children from me without warning. I feared for their safety in school. I questioned if sending my youngest to daycare was a good move. Through all of my emotions, I took great strides to hide them from my children and kept them blissfully unaware of the events. Neither one of them had a clue. To them, life was normal, except mommy was hugging and kissing them a lot more than usual. I debated over and over if I should tell S about the shootings. The Hub and I initially agreed that we would not tell her, but after further thought, we decided it was better that she hear it from us, than from a school bus mate. School bus mates never get the story right.

But, above all the sorrow, anger, and fear, I was glad it didn't happen to us. That sparked the guilt.

Here I was, about to post a funny blog that afternoon before I heard the news, complaining about my kids (in jest of course) and there are parents who would do anything to hold their children again. Then, I thought of all the parents who have lost their children in freak accidents or illness. I am so lucky to have my daughters. They are healthy. They are free from injury. The challenges in their daily lives never go beyond the normal challenges kids face. Our biggest issue right now is who started the fight first and finishing the vegetables on their plates. I spent the whole week worrying about how I was going to get my butt out of bed early enough to get the morning routine done. I worried about the inevitable tantrums the first week of work... B's and my own. The parents who lost their children would give anything to face those challenges again because that would mean that their life was how it used to be. We are the lucky ones.

This afternoon, I heard a weird banging noise coming from the hall bathroom. I walked in to find B hanging from the towel bar like a little monkey. One side of the bar is barely attached to the wall. I yelled, "Don't hang from the bar! You'll pull it down!" That was the first time I raised my voice in three days. It was the first time I was fully aware that I was in a haze from all of this. I realized that I let fear and guilt overcome me this weekend and I wasn't fully doing my job. I was dwelling in the negative and half-present in my life. I shouldn't feel guilty because I'm not experiencing ultimate suffering. I should be grateful. I should honor the parents in mourning by doing my job as well as I possibly can. I need to raise loving human beings and send them out into the world, hopefully making it a better world. That is my job. My kids are going to misbehave. I'm going to discipline them. My kids are going to do funny things. I'm going to laugh at them. My kids are going to drive me crazy and I will want a break from them, but I will continue to love them with every fiber of my being. I need to show them how to be brave... which means I must be brave. I need to teach them that even in the face of darkness, the light within us will give us courage and strength. Life will go on even when it feels like it won't. I am going to continue to share my stories about crayon marked walls, scraped knees, grocery store tantrums, parenting fails and all, because that is what I do. I will honor every parent by continuing to tell them that it will be fine, even when it feels like it won't be. They are not alone. It is good to laugh. It is good to live. It is good to keep going. But, maybe we'll try harder. Maybe we'll love more. Maybe we'll help each other out and work as a team. Maybe we'll argue less and try to come up with a real solution. Maybe we'll take more moments to recognize just how good it all is. Maybe we'll appreciate just how fragile it all can be.


Photo Credit: http://www.onlinegriefsupport.com/


**Here is an ABC News article listing all the ways you can help the Sandy Hook community. Click this link: How You Can Help Newtown Connecticut Community Affected by Shooting - ABC News

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Dear A.A.,
      Thank you! If it gives some people hope and encouragement, then I've done my job.
      Love,
      Terese

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  2. It's a good point. My first thought...instinct...was to never let my kids go anywhere without me, but that's not healthy. It's letting fear win. I needed this, thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Jamie,
      Yes! We can't let fear win. Stay brave! (It's easier said than done, I know.)
      Thank you for reading!
      Love,
      Terese

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  3. Even though my children are now adults, I had the same maternal feelings and reactions as you did Friday. Fear for your child is something that is always in the back of a mother's mind but doesn't activate until something reminds us what "could" happen. If we were always thinking "what if" our whole life, there would be no life left to enjoy. Love your blog, make sure you don't stop. Best of luck and joy in your new adventure!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Diane,
      I competely agree. The "what if" can become a crippling thought... it's easy to get caught up in it. Thank you so much for reading! I promise, I will keep the blog going!
      Love,
      Terese

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  4. My baby is 13 years old; on Friday afternoon I waited outside for the bus to come home and drop him off. This morning I wanted to keep him home. It's so hard to be a parent - you wear your heart on your sleeve. We have to love them enough to gently and slowly let them go out into the world and we have to keep praying that God will watch over them.

    Thank you for a beautiful post.

    Patty

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    Replies
    1. Dear Patty,
      I did the same thing. On Friday, for the first time ever, I considered home schooling... for about a minute. (This is coming from a mom who celebrated the first day of school this year like it was a national holiday.) I'm proud of you for being brave this morning!
      Thank you so much for reading!
      Love,
      Terese

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  5. This is an awesome!! You are an inspiration to lots of parents! I wish I had known you when I was raising my kids.. I would be a better parent I believe but with that said, you are helping me to be a better person and a better grandmother today. Thank you...

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    Replies
    1. Dear Anon,
      Thank you so much! Truth be told: I don't know what I'm doing half the time. But, isn't that the beauty of parenting? We learn as we go. I think parents, first timers to grandparents can learn from each other. I know I couldn't have made it this far without the love and support from you and all the lovely parents in my life.
      Thank you for reading!
      Love,
      Terese

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  6. I like your point about mothering kicked into over drive and the guilt it sparked for us. We will be ok. Its nice to hear. We just need to start believing. Shared the article with the moms at my son's school. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Anon,
      Thank you so much! Yes, we will be okay. (Keep saying it over and over. That's how I'm getting through this.) Thank you for sharing! I truly appreciate it!
      Love,
      Terese

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  7. This is a fantastic post. In fact, I have been so upset by what happened that I couldn't read this post until today. I am glad I finally did. You have an amazing way of putting everything that many of us have been feeling. It's that guilty combination of sadness and gratefulness.
    *hugs*
    -Jess

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    Replies
    1. Dear Jess,
      Thank you so much! I read so many blogs where the writer was trying to make sense of the situation, provide answers or solutions. I couldn't. I still can't. When I wrote this post, I was just trying to make sense of my own feelings and that in and of itself was a challenge. Thank you for reading it. I hope that I will only have to write happy and funny posts from now on!
      Love and hugs,
      Terese

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  8. So I ventured out of my comfort "blog group" to find you and I am SO glad I did!!! I love your blog...and can't wait to read more! I too wrote about this tragedy, we think very much alike. So excited to find a new friend in the blog world! SO very nice to meet you. :)
    http://themomcafe.com/the-latest-tragedy-will-you-join-me-again/

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  9. Dear Chris,
    Hi!!! Thank you so much for finding me! I just went to your blog and it is truly lovely! I'm glad we were able to find comfort in each other's words. Your post was beautiful and it gave me hope that we will all grow and be stronger from this tragedy.
    Yay for a new friend!!!! Happy New Year!!
    Love,
    Terese

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