One of my favorite moments of the week is when I get to pick Holden up from his two-mornings-a-week Mother’s Day Out Program. I excitedly walk down the hall peering into each classroom and watch as mommies and toddlers are reunited after a long 4 hours. Capturing all their smiles, I start beaming too as I inch closer to the two’s classroom. I stand at the half-door and watch him play for a few seconds before I say, “Hi baby!” He knows my voice and immediately looks. Sometimes, he portrays a smile for a second before looking up. He’ll start to budge his teachers to let them know I’m here by pointing to me and smiling, making sure it’s okay that he leaves. He walks to me with whatever toy in hand he had been playing with. I tell him he needs to leave it there before we go. He’ll look at it for a minute with pursed lips and drop it with an open palm. As soon as I open the half door I greet him with a big bear hug and kiss him in my favorite spot: just under his cheek where jawline and neck meet on the side. I take in his scent- maple syrup and pee. Feels good to have my man back in my arms.
He is so proud of his finger-painted coloring book page that is laying on top of his lunchbox and backpack outside the door. Never fails, every day I give him the same reaction, “You did that?! Mommy’s so proud!” And he grins proudly with an, “uh huh.” We slowly walk down the hall to the door, stopping every few feet for him to admire everyone else’s lunchbox and their themes- Thomas the Train, Dora the Explorer, I pray the kid with Mickey Mouse had already left or I knew the tantrum will start to brew.
Getting to the car, he knows he’s about to gulp down a sippy-cup of fresh milk and divulge in a snack or treat that I’ve brought to surprise him with. I make sure to keep it in the car so the other kids don’t see it, but I reassure myself surely the other moms brought treats for them and are just in their own cars too. However, last week’s cup of TCBY on a hot April day in Louisiana didn’t last the 5 minute wait too well. By the time we reached home, the inside of the car looked like a rainbow exploded with sprinkles in every square inch.
Every so often I peer at his face in the rear-view mirror on the drive home. He’s happily drinking his milk, eating his snack, and simultaneously catching a glimpse of Barney on the DVD player. Sometime’s he’ll catch me looking. Eye contact. He’ll scrunch his nose. He’s happy to know when mommy drops him off, mommy will be there to pick him up.
The possibility of these moments getting stripped away from me (and him) because of a senseless tragedy is unfathomable to think about. I felt my body numb as the news unfolded Sandy Hook’s school shooting on December 14, 2012. My heart was breaking for all of the parents who did not get that moment that Friday afternoon that I just had. Schools are safe places, happy places. There is no tolerance for the horrific crimes committed to innocent children.
I felt the rush. The anger, the complete loss of love. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hold each one of those victims in my arms, one by one as their sweet faces started to appear on the news once the names were released. I vastly searched online for their names, information, anything I could find to make myself feel like I knew them, experience the tragedy. On my couch, almost 1,500 miles away from this devastation, and I was mad at the world.
A similar reaction was my experience that unfolded as the news of the Boston Marathon bombing. Senseless tragedy. Such evil. I came across a snapshot of Martin Richard, the 8-year old victim, as he stood excitedly up on the fence cheering on the marathon finishers- and all too eerily, the snapshot showed the two suspects just feet behind him with their backpacks in tow.
Mad at the world. This is my reaction. Anger. No matter what the age, innocent lives lost to sheer terror is devastating. I would imagine too many people parallel my reaction.
As the hours of coverage drag on, minute by minute, light shines forth. Within any given tragedy, I note the goodness amongst the reactors. The citizens helping carry victims to ambulances moments after the explosion, police officers running into Sandy Hook Elementary, the military veterans running back into the Pentagon’s flames to save those trapped inside on September 11th.
Good triumphs all evil. Strangers become united.
I am humbled at the stories that flash over the news of those heroes amongst tragedy. I enjoy reading the columns devoted to the selflessness. Flashes of “restoring your faith in human nature” lists start aligning the social media. I have to read it all. Take it all in.
And slowly, the anger lessens. The release of the grudge. The appreciation for the heros, and the gratefulness for the good.