A few weeks ago I posted about a daily project I try to add to at our house. Every day, I write down on an index card that date, and something that happened. Sometimes it’s something big, sometimes it’s something minor, someday I hope it’s a neat way my family can look back on our history.
Monday’s card simply reads…
2013: This was a very sad day in Boston.
In the coming years, how should I explain this entry to my sons? How has ANY parent explained such cowardly, horrific acts to their children?
Maybe I’ll show my boys this.. a recent post from my friend Molly Campbell. If she wasn’t already a brilliant lawyer, wife and mother.. I would spend every waking hour trying to convince her to write for a living.. she’s that good.
Yesterday when we got home from school, I pulled your daily report out of your backpack. I realized that I hadn’t read it since last week and that on Friday, you did something that you hadn’t done since you were a baby: you bit a friend. Now, you would have gotten in trouble for this on any day but yesterday especially, you were in the hot seat. I realize that a 3 year old’s attention span leaves a bit to be desired so perhaps it wasn’t my smartest move to make you sit with me for a good ten minutes, talking about love and hurt. I kept repeating the same things over and over, trying my hardest to ensure that you were truly listening and understanding what I was saying…why it is not ever okay to hurt someone else, no matter what you are feeling or what they did to you. By the end of the conversation, you were exasperated. You buried your head into my lap and wailed, “Mommmmyyyyy!!!! I won’t bite anymore! Mommmyyyyy!!!” I kissed your head and sent you back to help your daddy get ready for bath time. But I didn’t follow you. Instead, I just sat on that cold kitchen floor and thought about it all. I thought about how this world has changed so much from the place I thought it was when I was your age. I thought about how sad I am that you have to grow up here, in a world where hate has so much power to change things–to shake every day people from everything they thought they knew. And I thought about how helpless I felt over all of it.
Jack, I have had so many plans for things I wanted to teach you. I wanted to teach you to be hardworking and successful so that you would never have to worry about how you would pay your bills. I wanted to teach you to find someone who will make you happy the same way that your dad and I make each other happy. I wanted to teach you about all the things that will bring you a good life. And while all of those things are fine, yesterday I realized that if I can only teach you one thing, I will and I will teach it well. I will teach you love.
There is so much hate in this world. Virgina Tech, where people trying to make a better life for themselves were taken six years ago today. Aurora, where we lost your Crazy Aunt Jessi. Newtown, where parents lost their babies who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to grow up. Boston, where a day of triumph turned into a day of terror. And all of this, all of it because of hate. Jack, I will teach you that every single life is unique and precious. I will teach you that every single person is so very loved and has a network of friends and family who will find it hard to breathe without them. I will teach you that hurting other people and choosing hate over love does nothing at all to make you happier or feel more triumphant. I will teach you that the only thing that can truly combat and ease your fears is love. Child, all I can do is teach you love. And so I will.
Your mom is afraid. It’s hard to watch these kinds of things happen in our world and not be affected by them; not think about the possibility of it happening where we are. It’s hard to lose someone in this way and still think, “It could never happen to me.” or even, “It could never happen to me again.” I have spent so much of my life worrying. I worry about you and about your dad. I worry about my family and my friends. I worry about me. And the worrying has done nothing. It hasn’t stopped anything. And I realize now that I am absolutely, completely, devastatingly helpless over all of this. I cannot stop any of these terrible things from happening and that is just such a sickening feeling–to be sitting here, waiting for the next thing to happen, knowing that there is absolutely nothing that I can do.
But that’s not entirely correct, Jack. Because there is something I can do. Something that if every parent did, we wouldn’t be in this situation. So yesterday, I made a decision. Our family will choose love. We will not choose worry, it does nothing. We will not choose sadness, it does nothing. We will not choose fear, it too does nothing. Instead, we will choose to teach you how to love every single person you meet. Deep, sincere, respectful love. Maybe if someone had taught those other people about that kind of love, our world wouldn’t be where it is today. And maybe I can’t go back in time and teach them the things they should know but I can teach you, and you can teach your children and your children can teach their children. Because the one thing I know is that hate will not win. Love always, always wins. And it will win this time too.
Because all I can do is teach mine to love. And suddenly, I don’t feel so helpless anymore.
All you need is love. Thanks for the reminder, Molly :)