Editor's Note: With Mother's Day coming, we are talking about what motherhood has made us as part of our Mother's Day Eve celebration. Join us. -Jenna
News had started coming in of the tragedy in Boston on Monday afternoon as I was getting ready to pick up my boys from school. We just moved to our home last week, and it was their first day in their new classrooms in a new city. My heart had been in my throat all day as I wondered if they were making friends and learning the routine.
And then this. This heartbreaking, senseless tragedy that seemingly came out of nowhere -- again.
It was warm and sunny outside, a stark contrast to how I was feeling as I walked to their school, checking my Twitter feed and wondering, along with the rest of the world, what had just happened. Posts, pictures, fear and speculation were everywhere, but the permeating message seemed to be: Please, not again.
It's so easy to go to that dark place when tragic events occur. As an adult who's seen her fair share, I find it a little harder to come back each time. As funny and upbeat as I often am, fear and darkness await in equal amounts when the emotional pendulum swings the other way. All too quickly, I start believing our planet is a terrible one filled with terrible people and terrible sorrow. I become submersed in sadness and worry. I fear for humanity, for our future, for my children.
What kind of world did we bring them into?
What kind of people will they be if they have to grow up surrounded by this violence, this pain?
But I can't stay in that dark place for long. I can't stay there because I have children. Those little mystery stain-smearing, couch cushion-puncturing, eye twitch-inducing boys of mine need me to be their rock. No matter what happens, big or small, I have to pull myself together, climb out of that hole, and be that rock.
This isn't about acting like a superhero or not allowing myself to feel. This isn't about never having a bad day or always hiding tears from my kids. Of course I worry, I grieve, I cry. I have those moments, sometimes in front of small, genetically-related witnesses. Mommy isn't all smiles and frustrated sighs.
Credit: © Ken Crane/ZUMAPRESS.com
But I have an important job: I have to be the comfort, the safe place, the one who brings them back from their own worry when the world is frightening and confusing. I'm the one who shows them the light again, who reminds them of all the good that's still out there. That's one of the many hats I wear in my role as parent.
And because I'm a terrible liar, I have to believe what I'm saying. I can't just make up positive junk and have it fly out of the orifice I drink coffee from, because they'll know. They always know when mom isn't being legit. Before I say a word, I need to remember the strength of the human spirit; believe in the power of communal prayer; know that for every act of unspeakable violence, there are countless acts of kindness. I need to feel it deeply, because I want my kids to believe it, too.
Just a few days before, the boys had said goodbye to the only school in the only community they'd ever known. Then, with a lot of confidence and courage, they had walked into new classrooms knowing not a soul. (They amaze me. I would have been a nervous wreck.) They only get one first day, and one greeting from a mom on that day who's eager to hear all about it. So I put my phone away and I walked into the school yard to soak up their smiles. It gave me time to center myself, to find some balance again.
When we did speak of the Boston Marathon bombings later that evening, we talked about how messed up and scary the world can be. But we also spoke of the many people who ran to help those in need, and the love and compassion being shown all around the world. The good stuff, the human stuff, the stuff we need to cling to when a chasm of fear opens up.
I don't consider myself a fantastic mom; I'm mediocre at best. A look through my blog archives will reveal not a single craft, creative snack idea or ambitious activity. I don't do nearly enough of those things to make posts out of. But if I can give my children the gift of hope, then I'll have done something right. One day they won't have me reminding them of all the good still left in the world. They'll have to excavate that hope themselves.
Resilience is one of the many gifts motherhood has given me. It's funny how what I strive to teach them is, in fact, what they're teaching me.
Parenting is weird like that.
Mother’s Day Eve® is a moment where moms come together to celebrate each other and the sisterhood of motherhood. The Saturday night before Mother’s Day, line up the sitters and ditch the dads, because this party is just for the mamas. Find out how to join the Mother's Day Eve party now!
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