Sunday, December 16, 2012

It Has Been a Strange Week to Be a Parent

Anyone old enough to read this already has a rough picture of what happened this week in Conneticut.  So, as with most posts lately this is not for you, this is for December, my daughter.
I was looking forward to writing tonight.  I was planning to write and tell you about how you, December, are reacting to Christmas.  (It's pretty fun to watch.)  Perhaps I will do it later this week.

Your Mum has been sick this week.  Friday we sent you off to daycare so that she could get a full day of rest.  You are at an age where you are an inevitable handful.  Most of the time that is delightful, but you have no off-switch.  What two-year old does?

For my day I headed out the door early for work, looking forward to a day of news filled with reviews I expected to support my expectations of The Hobbit - beautifully designed, but why the hell is this slim book going to be 9 hours or so of cinema?  And for the most part, that is what the reviews have been... but by lunch I had noticed my first warning.  A single Facebook post that read "Turn it off.  Go outside."  It first I interpreted it as a run-of-the-mill, "don't spend too much time in front of the TV" manifesto.  By the time I began eating, scrolling through my feed, it was clear - something terrible had happened somewhere.  The specifics were then still forming, but the basics were clear - a young man had taken a gun into an elementary school and started shooting... children, adults, he didn't seem to care, but mostly it was children.  Young children.
It turned into a dark day pretty quickly.  I actually avoided anymore news.  I just wasn't ready.  I put out some angry words about the NRA, 'cause it was as close as I could allow myself to get, and forged on through my day.

Before I was a parent, I used to get so angry at the oft heard sentiment "unless you are a parent, you just can't understand."  It is a pretty condescending thought.  "WTF?  Are you saying I can't possibly have the depth it takes to reach that level of compassion or empathy?  Well, fuck you."  Well here I am, a parent.  What I am going to say is this; "Before I was a parent, I didn't have that capacity.  It didn't turn on the moment of birth.  It developed over these past two years - and has noticeably kicked in harder in the past nine months or so.  I'm sure it has more developing to do.  But yes, after I became a parent, everything changed."

When I picked you up from daycare on Friday, I gave you the biggest hug I've ever given you.  It wasn't the longest or the squeeziest, but it came from a place I previously did not know.  A place of immense gratitude that you were coming home with me.  That you would be safe in bed that night.  That you were going to have Christmas.  And, if you'll forgive me for being so willfully maudlin, that I can't imagine how I would manage to carry on if anything were to ever happen to you.

(NOTE from a year later - just for context, this post was written in response to the Sandy Hook shootings.)

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