This is a somber post. You’ve been warned.
My mind has been on kids. All kids, my kids, but mostly, the innocent ones. The defenseless ones. I have no idea why my local news story gripped me a few days ago, but not far from where I live, an innocent, defenseless little 4 year old boy was abused for days and murdered by his step dad—his mother an accomplice. His little body was dumped in some remote mountain canyon.
Seriously, I know you’re thinking, this is the funny page? What…?
I am putting aside the funny today, because even though this is heavy, it’s healing to me to write about the emotions I feel for this little boy. This story affected me. I don’t know him, but it makes me cry. And at the same time, I want to charge the mother and run her over with an old 1970’s Pinto and then rev the engine in spite, or hit her senseless with a cabbage patch doll until I feel better. (Really, I would prefer my fists, but we’ll play up the cabbage patch doll.)
How does a 4 year old fight off two adults?
I get that every mother has had her moments when they “fly off the handle”. I know I have said things I wish I hadn’t, but to take the life of your own child?
I don’t get it.
It makes me hug my kids a little tighter. A tragic reminder that I should do so every moment. It reminds me that I should speak kindly to them at all times—to be a constant example. I get that no one is perfect. I’m a far cry from achieving any measure of that. But in those times when I might lose my temper, I should be the example and apologize to them, but I don’t. Even worse, I expect them to apologize when they’ve hurt the feelings of their siblings or anyone else, and I haven’t been their shining example.
Motherhood is such a complex puzzle to me. It continues to test my limits—forcing me to reach further for patience, to force myself to always try to maintain a sense of love for them—even when they’re acting like boogers and I want to throw them outside in the rainy weather and let them “chill out” for a moment until they apologize for “accidentally” throwing water on their brother because they “accidentally slipped,” only to laugh as they attempt to “slip” again just to see his little chest swell in a girlish sob—because he’s a boy. And because they’re older—which makes them feel that gives them free passage for such behavior.
Which makes me want to show them WHO really is the boss.
But when there are stories, like this tragic one, my chest freezes up. I have to go hug my kids and tell them I love them—because they ARE my world. I wouldn’t be able to function without them. But those lessons sometimes are forgotten by the next day when it’s been “one of those days” and I just need them in bed. I need “me” time.
I try to put myself in my kid’s shoes. Some days they’ve had a hard day too, just like I have. Sometimes, we’ve all had hard days together and no one likes anybody and we want to throw croutons at each other’s heads because it’s liberating. Those days are the ones that are hard for me to reach out—especially when I don’t want to.
I need to visualize what they’re feeling and thinking and just take the 2 minutes to go love them, to reassure them that I love them more than anything, even if they have acted like dumb-nuts. (And me too, I’ll admit begrudgingly.) It’s healing—for both parties.
I admit I get “tempted” to have “mommy time”. I need to just veg on the computer, read a book, lose myself in a movie….something. And you know what? None of it matters to me. Forget the TV show I’ve waited for, the book I’ve waited to read, the computer I’ve longed to type on because it’s now “quiet”. How much longer until I don’t have the sound of noise, the little patter of feet, the little infectious giggles and tickle sessions? What IF something happened the next sunrise? What will the day bring? I have this fear, and it’s growing every day that I’ve lost more time to be with them in their young childhood as they grow older and yet, what did I gain? More “me” time.
And it has amounted to zilch.
I am raising 4 separate individuals whose lives will impact the next generation. That is no small task.
I should be upstairs holding them till they fall asleep. I should be stroking their hair back, telling them about the day they were born, how happy I was to add them to our family. I should show them my hideous “war wounds” (A.K.A. stretch marks) and big belly pictures that made me look like a Seaworld runaway. They need to know what I endured for them because they were worth it, scars that remind me every day how complete my life is now that I’m a mommy.
I should be telling them stories about themselves when they were younger, how they smeared yogurt all over their head when they had it for the first time because they thought it was shampoo. Because that’s what we do in our house. We spoon shampoo in a fun bowl with cute, matching spoons just to confuse them and wash their hair in the highchair with cleansing, exfoliating Yoplait yogurt.
I should be telling them stories about me as a kid and how I used to cut my underwear with holes in the bottom and I would put it on the dogs because I could see their butts all day long and thought they were being immodest. I should be with them for those “tender” moments—not checking my FB account for the 180th time. (With a status and update mostly unchanged from the previous hour when I checked it.)
I want to look back with no regrets.
Sometimes my desperate need for “mommy time” is the safest option for them on some particular nights, but often, I just need to hug them once more, and tuck them in just one more time. Especially on the nights when we have the hardest time getting along. I need to mend what I might have injured. Their precious little feelings.
The world is so uncertain, so scary, is it any different for them? They need an anchor. They need an involved mommy, one to build forts with, one who ALLOWS that gigantic mess--all in the name of fun. It’s a mess. Why is it a big deal? Really. Why?
And realizing all this, makes the tragedy of what happened to that little 4 year old boy makes me cry all over again. Did he get a chance to built a fort in the front room? Could he make an mess without getting reprimanded and put in "time out"? What happened to him makes me feel what anyone would feel. Where was I? Why couldn’t I be hiking at that moment, been somewhere to prevent it from happening—been the person who called the police to report something suspicious—been someone who could have saved the life of a little boy?
I want to hold him, hug him so close he would have to gasp for air. I want to reassure him that someone loves him, HECK—let me adopt him! I’ll take him if you don’t want him! That child needs love! And you know what? I have more of it to share.
How did that mother go from this:
I want to dedicate this blog to that little boy, Ethan. I’m not sure if you found much love in this life, in your 4 short years on Earth, but I am so happy that you are free of the pain, abuse, and neglect you suffered, having gone home to your first home where love abounds, and is not withheld or refused to anyone.
Your savior bought you. You are his forever.
And you’re finally happy again and so loved! I will always hold a special place for you in my heart where your cute little face, shy smile, darling kid glasses, and sandy-blonde hair has impacted me. I don’t know why your little face has gripped me, but it has. When I see you, I see my own child. I feel as if I have loved you—and I do.
Welcome home little Ethan.
I know, it looks like I have completely lost it this week. I agree. Right now, my mascara is running rivulets down my face and my daughter is staring at me like I grabbed coal from the fireplace and painted war stripes around my eyes just for the fun of it. Heck, I should grab a feather and stick it into my messy, uncombed morning hair and let out a holler and chase them. We’ll play cowboys and idiot.
And I’m going to do that when I finish typing this.
The importance of our calling as mothers is undeniable…how anyone dares to undermine the heavy task we were born to do, even with its challenges, is beyond me. We are everything in this world—not to be arrogant—but mothers teach, train, and nurture.
We are the glue that will hold this generation together.
And it starts in our own home.