I’ve edited this post about 14 times this week. First, it started as a question for my gun owning friends. Then it morphed into a piece about hope after seeing the human wall that people formed outside Principal Dawn Hochsprung’s funeral to keep potential protestors hidden from mourners’ view. I was going to keep that post up-the one about Hope. After a fall full of tragedy, it’s hope I’ve been relying on. So it seemed fitting to write my way through this latest news with hope. But hope didn’t seem to really be doing the trick.
I want to be clear here, so before I go on let me say if I were a member of the Sandy Hook community, I might hate me for writing this. It’s only been a week since the tragedy that changed their lives forever and I in no way am writing this “for” them. Not because I don’t feel a tremendous ache for them, but because I can’t pretend for one second to know how any of them should be feeling and I don’t pretend to know what they should be doing with those feelings. Their grief is their own and they should choose how they live it.
While last week’s events may have inspired this post (in all its iterations this week) I’m writing today not for or about that community, but rather for myself. Yes, as selfish as that sounds, it is the plain truth. I’ve spent the week desperately searching for a reason not to bury my head in my pillow and refuse to get out from under the sheets forever and writing helps me clarify the fog in my brain. If I’m being really honest, since the last week of October, I have found it a challenge to be my normal sunny self, the brain fog growing thicker and thicker with brief moments of clarity here and there.
See, my default setting in times of loss and struggle is to try to find the lesson in it all. How can I grow from this? What do I need to improve? With the storm, though the devastation was tremendous, it was clear very early on the power of the human spirit was inspirational enough to combat the sadness. I was in awe of people’s strength and kindness, from the people who lost everything to the virtual strangers who came from far and wide just to help in any way they could. But I will admit, the horrific tragedy at that Connecticut elementary school makes it impossible to think we’re learning anything other than resilience and I’m pretty damn sick of that lesson already.
As someone who prides herself on coming out the other side of things, I’ve been in turn, disappointed, angry and just plain sad that no matter what good things may have come my way recently, I couldn’t seem to shake the overall greyness that had settled in my bones.
So I wrote. I wrote in anger. I wrote of hope. And each time, I saved the post in drafts and stirred it around in my head as I went about my day not quite able to shake it off.
Then I heard my kids. I mean, I really heard them and you know what sound it was?
My kids slapped me right in the sad face with Wonder. My kids, with their talk of the classroom Elf on the Shelf and his reports to Santa even after school ends. My kids, skipping to the car after school, talking over each other because no one can wait to share the excitement of the surprise play they got to see that day. My kids, wide-eyed at the boxes of books that arrived in the mail from my old high school teacher. The man who celebrated his 75th birthday this year, and still, despite retiring and a few health scares, still tracks me down no matter how many times I move to find my address and send my children boxes of books at Christmas and me a card with the same, wry, slightly obnoxious humour he had all those years ago when I sat in his room every day, learning Economics or various life lessons as his teacher’s aide. He hasn’t lost a step and for some crazy reason he still shares his joy with me.
Traditionally, I’m not one for wonder. I begrudgingly decorate for Christmas and do my best to fake through the weeks of Santa talk. I refuse to buy into elves on shelves and while I enjoy buying my kids gifts, I actually hate the pressure of representing a man who is supposed to get everything right. As sunny as I claim my disposition to be, it does not incorporate make believe very well. I’m more of a Pragmatic Optimist if you will. Thank God my children have their father. He has wonder, in spades.
And thankfully, so do children, not just mine, but all of them. Children ARE wonder and thank God He gave me three to surround myself with when I’m blue. I will embrace it this year. From this day forward, I will Ho Ho Ho with the best of them. I will hide my Grinch face and embrace the wonder that this season brings. I will notice the twinkle lights and how perfectly our tree fits in the corner of our new home. I will spend time noticing the children’s reactions to each new day and really feel the warmth that comes from being surrounded by family. I will marvel at the magic of December and the promise that magic holds for so many.
I will do this because, there are 20 little kids who can’t and I owe it to them and to my own, to find the wonder in this life, before the darkness threatens it any more.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.