The sappy cards and flowers and pretty boxes of chocolate in every store I see mock how I feel on this particular Mother's Day. Over 234 girls were stolen from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven, a place where girls could learn in order to create a better life for themselves and their families. I just don't know how to think about this. All I can think of is a moment I had a few nights ago with my own daughter.
Falling asleep has always been a bit of an issue for my daughter, and in turn it has been an issue for all of us. We've tried everything through the years, and things finally seemed to be mellowing as she prepares to exit tweendom. However, a few nights ago I felt a presence at my side just as I was about to drift off.
"Mom," she whispered, "I can't sleep."
In years past this would cause me to groan with irritation and a bit of bickering would usually ensue. But those Nigerian girls and their parents are riding under my skin, floating in my blood, and humming persistently in my back brain. I leaped from my bed grateful to have a task, to feel needed, to be able to do what every single parent of those girls is longing to do at this moment.
I followed her back to her room and crawled under her covers. Immediately her hand found mine. She burrowed her head into my neck and her soft hair tickled my nose. I almost wept with longing for those parents as my arms gently tangled with hers, legs bumping next to each other. We are here together. Her breathing deepened and eventually slowed down. Within minutes we were in rhythm with each other, and it was hard to determine just who had been of help to whom.
I stayed there longer than she needed me, which is what every parent does. We wait, sometimes just a bit too long, until it's clear our presence is no longer required. Learning when that moment is right takes practice and a sense of intuition. We must go deep inside, and it turns out the harder person to trust in letting go is not your kid but yourself.
I hope those parents know they didn't make a mistake. I hope they know that they did everything right in loving their daughters enough to send them to school out of a deep longing for a better life. I hope they know there are so many ways in which we can mess up as parents, but loving your child enough to educate them despite it's risks is not one of them.
How can it be that I am raising my children in a world where it is dangerous to go to school? I just don't know how to place this in my brain or in my heart. What I can do then is use my voice and say my prayers and be prepared when night falls and my own daughter whispers my name.