Parenting in the
wake of tragedy

As I all struggle to make sense of the recent tragic loss of 20 innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, waves of sadness and guilt have overcome me. I will carry the parents of those beautiful children in my heart for always.

Simple, small moments

“OK, we’ll need two eggs for this recipe,” I told my daughter yesterday afternoon as we baked Christmas cookies.

As her tiny, 5-year-old hands reached for the eggs, I felt familiar tears well in my eyes.

Later, while rinsing fresh raspberries as a surprise treat for my son, I stood over the kitchen sink and cried.

This morning, as I pulled my daughter’s navy blue knee high socks from the dryer, my chest tightened and I just sobbed.

Baking cookies, delighting my children with surprises and folding their clothes for the week ahead are small things in the scheme of things.

My greatest joys as a mother have been found in the small moments... the fragments of time that could easily be eclipsed by the bigger moments.

Since I learned about the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 beautiful children were brutally taken from this world this past Friday morning, my heart has been breaking for those parent’s whose lives will never be the same.

Their babies were ripped from them.

Gone forever.

Sandy Hook School - Newtown Connecticut

Moments, both large and small

President Obama, in his speech delivered Friday afternoon, after news of the tragedy in Newtown spread, said, “The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

And he’s right. Those milestones were stretched out ahead of those babies and now they’re gone. But, interspersed amongst those milestone moments were the small moments. Those parents have been robbed of all of them, both large and small.

Smoothing a stray hair from your child’s face, Friday night pizza parties, Saturday morning pancakes, the smell of your child, fresh from the tub.

It’s those moments that form a lifetime. The big moments serve merely as punctuation marks, separating the small moments that weave together and become the fabric of our lives.

Guilt that my babies are here within my reach has burrowed into my heart and made each moment feel so fragile... so precious... so heavy.

"I’m not sure when the tears will subside or when I will stop feeling overcome with guilt..."

Forever mindful of the tragedy

I’m not sure when the tears will subside or when I will stop feeling overcome with guilt over each small moment, but I know that with time, life will cease to feel so incredibly fragile and this tightness in my chest will loosen.

But, I hope that a piece of this stays with me for always.

I hope that from time to time, I remember to acquiesce to my children’s pleas for five more minutes of bath time.

I hope that I always take a moment to breathe them and watch their peaceful faces when I check in on them before bedtime.

I hope that I slow down enough to hear the sounds of their laughter while they’re playing together before dinner.

And in my heart, I will forever hold the parents of Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and Allison N. Wyatt.

And to each of them, I send heartfelt wishes for peace.

Image credit: WENN

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Comments on "Practicing Gratitude: Small moments in a sea of grief"

Tonya December 18, 2012 | 1:59 PM

Beautiful post, Nichole. Grief has been completely magnified since becoming a mother and like you I never want to take the small moments Lucas and I share or the small acts that I perform for him daily for granted. My head has been such a swirl of thoughts since Friday and my heart is oh so heavy. I have cried many tears for the children lost and the parents that remain. I can't even imagine what they must be going though.

Jaime December 18, 2012 | 8:23 AM

Great post Nichole. I can relate so much. My kids are 5 and 2.5 and just the thoughts of all those missed moments...I just can't even type it without crying. I can't even read those childrens' names or see their beautiful faces. It's just too horrific and too close.

jill (mrschaos) December 17, 2012 | 12:50 PM

Dropping my daughter off at school this morning was rough. I can't even imagine what those families are going through. My heart is so heavy.

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