316 days without yelling, 49 days of LOVING MORE to go.
“Tonight, we will all hug our kids a little tighter.”
“Tonight I kissed my kids more than ever.”
“Tonight putting my kids to bed didn’t feel like a chore, but a privilege.”
“Today I told my daughter I loved her over and over again.”
Last Friday night from the President to my Facebook feed to my twitter feed, there were lots of popular sentiments but one that stuck with me is that everyone declared that that day, that night they would hug their kids tighter.
I get that. I am NOT disputing it. I did too. I hugged my sweet boys as long as they would physically let me. I kissed them more times than perhaps that week combined. And I told them “I love you” even when they were sound asleep and couldn’t hear me say it anymore. Yes, I did just as every parent across America seemed to do Friday night.
But the next morning all the statements and my actions made me think. What about on Saturday? On Sunday? Next Saturday? 10 Sundays from now? Will parents still be moved to hug their kids a little tighter? To tell their kids they love them more than ever…even when they feel anger at them for “bad” behavior? Because I know myself. When tragedy or hardship strikes, whether it is Hurricane Sandy or a trip to the ER, I stop and think. I think oh, life is precious; I am going to hug my kids more today. I think, I am so grateful; I am going to say it more. I think, I need to try harder; I am going to try harder to be more patient.
And I do, for a few days, sometimes longer. And then the tragedy or hardship escapes my mind and the chaos of life brings me back to how I was before the hardship.
And I can’t stand that about myself. And I worry the same will happen now.
I haven’t stopped crying since Friday and my heart hasn’t stopped sending virtual love to each and every soul in Newtown, CT.
But one day, it will. The tears will stop and my heart will re-focus entirely on my house, my life. I will try as hard as I can to be “the mom” that I was the weekend after the tragedy at Newtown, but the truth is I will slip. I know that when I address cards to my family and friends in Newtown that I will pause and remember the lives lost and I will run and hug my munchkins.
And I know that when we visit Newtown with my sons to show them daddy’s school, daddy’s house, daddy’s favorite pizza place, daddy’s favorite ice cream shop, daddy’s oh so beautiful town that I will sadly be forced to remember to hug my kids tighter at that moment.
But I also know those days will be fewer than I like. I know moving forward I won’t be as calm and tender at Kindergarten drop-off as I was today; that I will be loving but not AS loving and present as I was today. I know I won’t run and hug my son at pick-up as I did today but that instead I will sit in the car waiting impatiently for him to come to me so that I can rush to the next place.
And oh this reality pains me so. Oh this reality infuriates me. Oh this reality stumps me, confuses me, and pushes me to really think. Why? Why do I do this?
Everyday since Friday I’ve asked myself not just how will I bring the memories of those lost to life, but also how will I ensure that I hug my kids a little tighter each night, even when this tragedy is a distant memory? How will I embrace the mom that I was this past weekend? How will I find the same patience, presence, and persistence to be a loving mom that I had in abundance after I heard the devastating news?
I am not going to pretend to know the answers. Because I don’t know. I don’t know a lot right now, except for perhaps two things. One, I love my sons with all my soul and the thought of losing them breaks my heart. I can only imagine what it really feels like to those who have indeed lost their children. And two, I am forever grateful that I decided to stop yelling at them.
An expected answer given my blog topic? Perhaps. But I don’t write that for the expected answers. Yes I am grateful that I have stopped yelling because it has improved my relationship with my boys, it has shown them more love, it has created a calmer home. But right now, I realize that the real gift in learning not to yell is that it has forced me to LEARN how to be more patient, how to be more present, and how to keep being persistent in my quest to be the most loving mom I can be. And these lessons have made the two most important times in the day to me easier and better.
Ironically (and sadly) I was most prone to yell at my boys at the two times of day when I prepared to say “goodbye” to them for 6+ hours: getting to school and getting ready for bed. Learning not to yell helps me send my kids to school with love in their hearts. Learning not to yell helps me send my kids to sleep with love in their hearts. Of all the moments in the day, those are the most precious to me ESPECIALLY now. Especially now as I am painfully aware of just how precious and important those goodbye moments, memories, really are. How much they really count.
Yes, there will be (have been) days when I am not as loving as I hope. And on those days I just hope that I remember to not just give my sons an apology and one great big, tight hug (even if I am frustrated) but also that I remember to give myself one too. Because getting down on myself will just set me up to yell. It will just prevent me from savoring the next moment, and any moment I don’t yell is a win for all. And right now, we all need to have these winning moments. Because any moment WE don’t yell we not only give our children the love they deserve but also we teache our children patience, understanding, empathy, compassion and love ALL things this world needs. It certainly does not need more anger.
I am going to embrace the mom I was the weekend after Newtown by continuing to share love with my boys by not yelling at them. I encourage everyone to try not yelling but also to do whatever you need to keep bringing more peace and love to your home, to this world. And I will honor the beautiful lives lost by continuing to do Just Because moments of kindness and by donating to the Newtown Memorial fund whose mission is to … provide a memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy…(and more). Let there be a constant memory of the love these lives brought to this world and let us spread it by our kindness to our own children, and beyond.