The tragedy in Newtown has made us all think about how to talk to and comfort our children appropriately for their age and their exposure to the terrible news. This is important work and we need to be skilled at it. But I would like every mom to take a few moments to focus on her own feelings today and to find ways to comfort herself during this terribly traumatic time.
Let's start by acknowledging how vulnerable we feel in the wake of Sandy Hook. Even on a good day, parents spend energy, emotion and time worrying about what could happen to their child. On days like today, when we have been exposed to the worst that can happen, our hearts and minds are full of pain about what happened to moms like us -- moms who worry about their children's safety but who could never have imagined something this horrible.
When my son and daughter were little, I obsessed about one of them finding a gun at an imaginary neighbor's house. I trained them on what to do if this happened -- don't touch, tell an adult -- and I asked them trick questions to see if they remembered.
Years later, I watched a documentary about what really happens when carefully taught children find a gun. In the documentary, all the talk goes out of their heads as they get giddy over the reality of this dangerous weapon.
My careful teaching and the truth of the documentary collided. I became aware that my fear of a neighbor's gun in the small, safe community where I had chosen to raise my children was symbolic of all the fears I felt for my children. My careful training -- don't touch, tell an adult -- was a symbol of all the millions of safety instructions I wanted them to know, remember and heed to protect themselves.
We moms do so much to protect and keep our children safe. We are like walking encyclopedias of precautions and remedies. We are careful and vigilant. We have huge hearts to feel our children's pains and soft shoulders to comfort a crying child no matter how small the injury.
Today, we need to turn our hearts inward to heal our own sadness. We need to talk mom-to-mom and comfort each other, to give each other a soft shoulder to cry on. Today, we need to remind ourselves that we are always vigilant and that we are protecting our children from harm every day. We need to let the music of the season soothe our souls. We need to acknowledge that we, too, need and deserve comforting.
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