I had my first baby ten years ago. After giving birth, I gazed down at this tiny new life and was overcome with great emotion. I laughed and I cried. The idea that Monkey Toes and I had been entrusted with this child was almost too much to comprehend. The fist night, I kept Sweet Potato in my room and just stared at him (and kissed his head and held him close. I didn't want to put him down). I had never imagined love like this; so effortless and so completely encompassing. I imagined what life would be like for this child. We would provide a loving, happy, enriching, educational, faith-filled and safe home. This dream just enhanced with the addition of each gift of life to our family.
There is a part of me that wishes my kids were still babies. Life at that stage seems so simple and uncomplicated. But as we all must do, they grow up and they grow up fast. I've been warned about that since the day I had Sweet Potato. As much as I want to protect my children's innocence, life happens and one way or another they learn of topics/issues/problems of this world that I am not always prepared to explain.
This past year as our country geared up for a presidential election, our church prayed each day for the protection of life and the end of abortion. One Sunday after Mass, I was asked by Sweet Potato, "what does abortion mean?" Another day, as we were praying for some friends of ours, Cucumber asked, "why doesn't the mommy and daddy live together anymore?" A few weeks ago, the kids and I were listening to the radio and a Christmas song by the Carpenters was playing. Honey Bunches asked if they were still "making music." I told him that Karen Carpenter had died a long time ago. "How did she die?" "Well, she had an eating disorder." "What is an eating disorder?" he asked. And then there are the horrific events of last week; the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
I have to ask; how do I discuss this event, let alone explain it, when I don't understand it myself? The entire week, I couldn't bring myself to turn on the t.v. or read a newspaper. It's not because I don't care, it's because each time I even gave a thought to this, my heart ached to the point of pain and I couldn't catch my breath. I hugged and kissed my children, feeling spoiled or undeserving of these gifts, as those moms and dads had their hearts torn from their chests. I have prayed and will continue to do so, as the community of Newtown attempts to pick up the pieces and heal from this tragedy.
This morning we decorated our Christmas tree. The kids found such joy in this activity. They couldn't grab the ornaments fast enough as they rushed with excitement to adorn our tree. Once finished, they stood back and stared. Somehow, those twinkling lights and shiny ornaments hold a sense of magical wonderment. This whole holiday season has been one of simplicity and awe, "magic" and innocence. From the first snowfall of the season to the Feast of St. Nick. From lighting the candles on the Advent Wreath, to racing to the Advent Calendar to see what is hidden behind the little door. It is these moments that I want to capture and hold close for a life time. It is these little moments of happiness, of contentment, that I want to keep in my heart forever, to be reminded that there is good in this world. It is these memories in the making that I desire for my children to hold close, as well. I want them to carry these experiences with them, wherever life may take them, if for no other reason than to remind them that they are treasured, they are blessed, and above all, they are loved.
As undeserving as I often feel of the blessings in my life, I will not take them for granted, not even for a moment. And in the end, I believe with my whole heart, that good will conquer evil. I will place my trust and my hope in the Lord, for He is my refuge; He is my rock.