It feels like aeons ago, but it wasn’t. Wow, I had forgotten how important vacations are: for the family dynamic, for the heart, for the soul. A week of little kid laughter, excitement, hand-holding, shirt-tugging, and sun rays. We got a bit more than we had bargained for with a trip to the ER the last day! And that, right there, is parenting. Full of surprises and roller-coaster rides, literal and otherwise…
Sunday evening–full bellies, wagging tails, little kid shrieks, and Captain Electro. My perfection!
Need further proof that my husband is super amazing? He makes these weird yet adorable movie trailers with the kids. Here is the latest, from Xmas morning at our house. Love. It. So. Much.
Copious holiday pictures are forthcoming, I promise grandparents!
Some people have mother-in-law issues. If you just read this and groaned, you know what I’m talking about. And I totally feel for you.
But the thing is, I’ve never had that problem. I’ve been very blessed with an amazing mother-in-law. Literally from the first day I showed up in the Browns life as a know-it-all teenager, Margaret has shown and given me kindness and empathy and support. She welcomed me into her family and her life with open arms. She set the bar so incredibly high for her son, my now husband. Through her love for him, I saw how Sam had been raised, respected, and adored so immensely, and realized it would be my job to follow in that vein. With pleasure.
Her intellect is beyond compare, and I can’t even count the number of times I’d call Margaret to get her perspective on life’s daily issues (how can I go back to work with these babies? Take that job? Handle this altercation? The list goes on). Never one to push advice, she would always listen just perfectly, providing her own view that of course turned out be right.
Above all, she has loved my babies–her grand babies–beyond compare. She just gets them. Her DNA is right there nestled up into them. Especially my little Emme, so sweet and empathetic and calm and curious and smart. Emme reminds me of you, Margaret, in the best possible way. Happy birthday to you, my amazing mother-in-law. I love you.
I imagine I wasn’t even close to the only parent finding it hard to sleep last night.
Throughout this fitful night, I just couldn’t shake the mental images of CT out of my head, out of my heart. The photos of grief-stricken moms and dads shocked and saddened beyond belief, the images of scared tiny bodies running out of a school that should always be known as their sanctuary. And then I was saddened by the images not seen, the feelings beyond horrific of broken families, sisters and brothers, grandparents and uncles and aunts, and an entire society now saddled with an event that never should have been.
As a parent, I’m mourning for those mothers and fathers, and their children. As a citizen, I’m really, really angry. Angry that even despite the shooting–and the many others that have unfortunately become a regular occurrence in America–I find we are already getting caught up in the same nonsensical political debate: “Guns are the SOLE problem!!!” “No, guns aren’t the problem, crazy people are the problem!! Don’t tell me I can’t protect myself!”
I’m over it. Our society is the problem. Our fascination and perverted obsession with a culture of violence is the problem. Our inability to have a thoughtful and balanced discussion about this obsession is the problem.
How have we lost sight of the fact that these mass shootings are the result of the proliferation of and easy access to large assault rifles that can shoot an ungodly number of bullets in a very short period of time? Why can’t we as a society take a collective step back and question WHY these types of guns are allowed in such abundance on our streets, our neighborhoods, our schools, anywhere? Reading this post from a gun-owner just makes sense:
Really, the ONLY justification for these assault rifles and large magazines (other then the malicious intent to kill a lot of people quickly), is if you truly believe the delusion that we have to be prepared to one day fight off the oppressing might of the US military and/or UN, “Turner Diaries”-style.
I think the fact that these types of weapons are much less defensible creates, if not a good opportunity, at least the best we have to drive a wedge between the large gun-owning public and the far-right fanatics, and make near-future policy progress here. And banning these weapons would, while certainly not ending all shootings, dramatically reduce crazy people’s capacity to commit large-scale massacres.
I beg to differ. Today is the day. Or better yet, yesterday. And tomorrow. But in this discussion we need to move beyond the divisive rhetoric of right v left, gun-toting v anti-everything. We must admit our addiction as a society. We must own up to our involvement as a community. And we must have a sober conversation about appropriate ways to move forward to ensure that those children will not be yet another statistic.
I understand the urge to close yourself off from the pain and step away from this event. As a mom, my first instinct is to do the same–turn off the news, cuddle my nearly school-aged daughter and toddler son. Hide in my beautiful bubble of family security, safety, and love. But to deny the severity of the problem is to contribute to the problem.
So what to do? I’m not sure. We need forums and open discussion. We need education and data to force us out of our shell. And we need congressional movement. I guess a no-brainer first step is to sign this petition:
And then it is to use our power and conviction as PARENTS to demand change. If we can spend countless hours demanding arts enrichment, language immersion, and organic food in our children’s schools, surely we have the power to demand basic levels of safety. As my parenting columnist guru Lisa Belkin puts it (much more eloquently than I):
We cherish individuality in America. We see raising children as no one else’s business, and we have never managed to band together as a “parenting” bloc. It is time. Guns are a parenting issue and we need to control them in the name of the children who died this morning. Even more, we need to do it in the name of their mothers and fathers.
So cry today. Comfort your kids. Curse, and pray. Then pick up the phone, a pen, a keyboard, or your checkbook and make your demands heard.
What do you think? Are you rallying behind any campaigns? Community movements? Do we have the power and inclination to do something?
Cousin bonding, toddler and young ones kissing and hugging and running and screeching, birthday songs and sweets aplenty, grandma embraces and amazing KC BBQ, chilly toes and first season snows, mountain air memories, and lots of booze. and turkey. and pie. and unbuttoned pants…
November traveling has been amazing. We–the DC Browns–miss you all, our family scattered from Colorado to Florida to Kansas City. Thank you so much for hosting us, putting up with Colman’s stinky bottom and Sam’s smelly feet. These trips were just what the doctor ordered.
Sometimes I’ve got the stamina. And sometimes I just don’t. Truly. I need these weekends to regroup, unwind, chill out, shower (gross, I know, but true). And when I feel rundown and so bone-tired, I’ll listen to this song a time or two and feel a-ok…
We voted yesterday. Emme was so interested in going and seeing how it all works. She waited in line for an hour and a half in the frigid morning air, never whining. When we made our way to the front of the line, she climbed up on my lap and found what she was looking for, sounding out the word slowly, uncertainly: “O….ba…ma.” And just like that her tiny little finger helped mine press the box. Her little four year old freckled face nervously, excitedly, looked up at me and asked, “Did I just vote? Did it count?”
Maybe my daughter will grow up to share my political beliefs. Maybe she’ll have a similar experience that I had as a child and young adult, acting as the political “black sheep” of the family. But that will all play out in time. All we can do as parents is expose our kids to the many views and values this crazy country has, and instill in them a love of country and a sense that EVEN YOU MATTER. And with that…FORWARD…
And if you haven’t read this yet, about the maturation of both love and politics, from crush to honest to god faith and dedication in a relationship and ditto for our political system, I’d recommend this. Rebecca Woolf nails it again: Faith