There are days when being a mother leaves me breathless. Days when the crying and the fighting and the constant requests make me wish I could go temporarily deaf. Days when I think if I hear the words “Mommy I want…” “Mommy, I need some more…” “Mommy get me some…” again I will lose whatever sanity I have left. Days when each and every tiny task is a challenge, a negotiation, a debate and all that gets me through is the thought of 8:30 when they will be asleep and I can curl up on the couch with a beer and a bullshit reality show.
And then there are days when the unthinkable shakes you to your core.
I was in the parking lot of Starbucks on Friday when my phone screen lit up with a news update: Shooting at Connecticut elementary school. Unknown number of fatalities. Most of the victims believed to be children. I scooped Benni up from his car seat as I wiped the tears from my face. Most of them children. I muttered my order to the barista and asked to pay for the coffee of the young man behind me who held the door for me as I entered, suddenly overwhelmed by the kindness of his gesture. A stranger held the door for me, and across the country parents were wondering whether their children were alive.
When confronted with the worst of humanity, the little things come into focus.
Since Friday, along with a sorrow which only seems to grow for all that was so viciously taken that day, I feel a deep gratitude for all those little things. Because I am one of the lucky who is still able to hold her children in her arms and feel the weight of their bodies as they slip into sleep. I am still able to pour them milk, build them a fort out of blankets, and wash the dirt from their hair. I am still able to call my children’s names and have them answer.I am lucky.
I left Starbucks that day and headed to my son’s school. Though it was well before dismissal time I needed him with me. I found him seated with a few other kids on the floor watching Polar Express in the back of the classroom, their soft faces lit by the glow of the television. As I watched him I closed my eyes and gave thanks to the universe for blessing me with two healthy, beautiful children. “Mom!” David shouted when he noticed me standing there, “you’re here! You came back for me!”
“Mommy always comes back for you,” I said as I returned his tight squeeze. “I’ll always come back.”