I sighed, turned on the car while mentally readying myself for the possibility of no afternoon nap, and glanced down at the shoes on my passenger floorboard.
Now, I'm not what one would call sentimental, and I often have a hard time with this parenting gig. I've never been someone that just looooves hanging out with kids or babies. I didn't like to hold babies ever until I had my own, and even now I'm not big on other kids. I don't want to talk to children on the playground and you'll never find me volunteering at the church nursery. There are moments every day where I think to myself "Yep. I'd rather be on a beach chair in Cabo right now" as I wipe a runny nose or argue with Payne for the ten thousandth time that week.
Those little shoes stopped me on a dime. I looked at them and thought about how many people on this earth would do nearly anything to have to carry around two pairs of shoes made for tiny feet. I take my role in life for granted often, but in reality, I've been given a great gift.
Today, the national anniversary of a great trajedy, seems a good day to express a little gratitude.
My family is the greatest blessing in my life. My children the most spectacular gifts I've ever been given. They are my most precious posessions. Consequently, I have learned the true value of human life through their existence.
Having Payne deepened my understanding of our value. To this day I have problems watching violent movies, thinking about the casualties of war, the victims of terrorism, because my heart breaks thinking about the mothers and fathers of those taken. Every single person on this planet is somebody's baby. Someone grew them within their body, met their every need when they were so helpless that a day without constant care would be fatal, kissed their scraped knees, provided their necessities, gave their child their heart. Everyone out there is cared about deeply by someone, and thus, the loss of any human life is an incalculable horror. Within an individual, there is so much there. So much time and work and love and importance. How can it just be tossed out of the window by a bullet, or a bomb, or by hatred? The idea of losing one of my children triggers more fear within me than the idea of dying. I would die to protect them, reflexively.
In discovering myself as a parent, I also came to understand a darker side of myself. I remember once, I was driving through town with Payne in the backseat and was pregnant with Genevieve, when a car not far in front of me just stopped in the right hand lane. Not the shoulder of the freeway, within the lane. Myself and several other vehicles skidded and swerved to a stop, brakes squealing, and by some miracle avoided an accident. Now, I have no idea why that car stopped. Maybe the driver had a seizure, a heart attack, maybe his car malfunctioned....but in the seconds after realizing we were ok I had some very violent thoughts about that man. If my son or baby had been injured in a wreck of his doing I'm not sure what would have happened in the time that lapsed before emergency aid showed up. I mean, I'm not exactly an intimidating physical specimen, but I hear adrenaline does some crazy stuff. That incident made me realize that I would not only die to protect my children, I would without hesitation attempt to kill someone that directly threatened their lives. That is a profound and eerie thing to realize about oneself.
I suppose where I'm going with this is trying to say I'm grateful. I'm grateful for my husband and the children he has given me. I feel empathy towards those who have loved ones that were lost because someone had an agenda and decided to make a statement, disregarding the value of human life in the process. My understanding of their grief will always be incredibly shallow by comparison, but this year, as a Mother to two humans that are so very dear to me, I feel their collective loss more intensly. I can only imagine their grief, and I know that their anger is also great. We all grieve, and we are all angry, but their burden is magnitudes greater.
Our lives are valuable beyond measure.
Parenting is difficult at times, but children are The Greatest Blessing.
I don't think I can really express what it is I'm feeling today, but thank you for reading my aimless mental rambling.
As a consolation prize, here is a photo of Genevieve reallllly loving her Creepy Tiger Suit Cabbage Patch Doll:
I love how kids always attach themselves to that one toy that a parent finds repulsive. Somehow Genevieve knew that baby dolls in animal costumes always gave me the creeps as a kid (they don't look like dolls in costumes; they look like animals with people faces!) and acted accordingly. Smart girl.