Newtown, CT Parents Teach Us About Love, Loss ... And LivingChristine Coppa
Last night I noticed a status on Heather B. Armstrong’s (creator of the infamous Dooce.com blog) Facebook wall: “I will never again take for granted the privilege of helping my kid with her homework. All my love to everyone in Newtown.”
It has nearly 400 likes.
It got me thinking about my parenting style since the tragedy. On Friday, Uncle Carlo made my dad get JD early from school. I finished my work and left the magazine before 5 PM, bringing home an unwrapped Christmas gift that I was hiding under my desk for JD—like it meant something more than the plastic it was. Like it symbolized something other than Stars Wars action figures.
Seeing my child, holding him, smelling him and hearing his squeaky voice on Friday brought me to tears for obvious reasons. I kiss him and smell his shampoo-y hair everyday. We exchange,”I love yous” multiple times a day. I say “Jack-a-roo,” he finishes “Boo-ba-loo!” I ask him who loves him the most and he says, “You, mommy! And Poppy loves me to the stars and sun and moon and beyond and back and Mema loves me this much,” and he extends his arms to the sky and wiggles his fingers. He talks about Uncle Bri knowing everything about superheroes and this morning, interestingly enough, how, Uncle Carlo “protects the community.”
JD knows he’s loved.
My love for him is endless, true, and consistently demonstrated and articulated.
Like Heather’s sentiment in her Facebook status, all of this has been slowed down, calmed down, and I’ve felt these experiences more in the moment than ever. That’s how it always should be. But, let’s face it, parenthood is chaotic. I often times feel like I’m walking on a tight rope with a juice box on my head, a deadline on my brain, and a five-year-old tugging on my shirt.
Since Friday, I haven’t said “I love you,” while applying my mascara, inching over the sink on my tiptoes. I looked into JD’s big brown owl eyes and said it. I haven’t felt frustrated when I told him, for the 6th time, to pick out his sneakers. “Let’s pick em out together!” I haven’t argued with him when he’s asked to stay up and watch, “one more show, pretty please.” We just cuddled up and watched Bubble Guppies. I haven’t shhhh’ed him to sleep when he’s climbed into my bed with Max the dog at his heels at 1 AM like he did last night.
Whispering into my ear and waking me up, JD said, “Mommy,” and I startled. “Is it tomorrow yet? Mommy, is it your birthday?” My child was wide awake. Awake like he just ate a little box of candy neon Nerds. I looked at my iPhone. “It is, baby,” I said. I kissed his nose. “Are you 32 now?” he asked. “I am,” I said. “When will I be 32, Mommy?” he asked. Pause. Doing math in my head at 1 AM.
“Innnnnnn … 27 giant years,” I said.
“Will I be in college?” he asked.
“You will probably have graduated,” I said.
“Will you drive me to college?”
“I will,” I said.
“Did Poppy and Mema drive you to college?”
“They did,” I said. “And they left me in Philadelphia after your Poppy filled the fridge and your Mema made my bed.”
“Will you leave me at college?” he asked.
“I will, but I will never leave you Jack-a-roo. I will always be with you.”
We talked until we fell asleep and I don’t recall the last question or answer, just the feeling of his warm little hand in mine.
“Can I put the lights on, Mommy?” Warm breath on my face. It was 6 AM. “OK, dude,” I said.
You are the light, baby.
Slow down. Enjoy your children.
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