Like a lot of Americans, I’ve been glued to CNN the last two days watching coverage of the devastation caused by the massive EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and, like any mother, I can’t help but focus on the loss of 9 innocent children as well as the images and interviews of parents who were lucky enough to be reunited with their children. It seems like just yesterday my heart was breaking over the little boy who lost his life at the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. And not long before that, over the unbearable loss of even more children in the Connecticut school shooting. While it certainly seems that as a nation we’ve had an excessive number of child deaths recently, it’s also a fact that becoming a mother changes your perception of the world forever. And it’s that fact that makes me realize my heart broke forever the day Kellan was born. I didn’t just become a mother to him that day; in some small way I became a mother to all children. Let it be known that both Kellan and his equally naughty sister, Kathryn, spend the majority of their waking hours terrorizing their father and me in every conceivable way – in just the two hours between being picked up from daycare and going to bed tonight I have endured an obscene tantrum, followed by an unsuccessful timeout, followed by an extended “break” in the offender’s room, followed by a surprisingly successful mealtime, shortly followed by the pouring of my leftover coffee onto the kitchen floor, followed by a refusal to poop in anything other than a new diaper, followed by the unraveling and dragging of said (now dirty) diaper across the living room floor, followed by inexplicable whining and pointing by my stubborn, nonverbal 18-month old for a full 30 minutes. And yet…
And yet, they retire to their beds, I turn CNN back on, and I sob. Those kids are my kids. As a mother, you automatically insert your child into every devastating outcome that you see, read or hear about on the news, in books (fiction and non-fiction alike), on Facebook, and even on shows like Law & Order SVU and CSI. And all of that pales in comparison to the horrific scenarios you create for them inside your own twisted mind. The heartbreak is truly inescapable. I often wonder if it will ever get easier. As they grow older and become more accountable (one would hope), will they no longer seem so helpless? Or is the hope of ever watching a good crime drama again out of the question forever?
It’s really no wonder they say marriages take a nose dive during the first few years of child-rearing. If you and your spouse don’t have ALL your shit together and stabilized before the kids (and let’s be honest, who really has all their shit together until it’s too late?), you are in T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Kids in and of themselves are about as far from stable as North Korea. They move themselves and you from one emotional extreme to the next with no real resting period. Utter heartbreak. But I’d be lying if I said I regretted them for a moment. To quote a favorite song of mine by the Lumineers, “the opposite of pain is indifference,” and I’d rather take the pain.
Thoughts and prayers for the parents who lost their own sweet heartbreakers this week in Oklahoma…may their babies rest in peace.