This week we were all called upon, as a result of the events in Boston, to re-examine our world and our perception of it. My oldest daughter and I were in the grocery store when my husband called with news of the bombing. In an instant, I was teleported back to the days of 9/11 when the child who was standing beside me was only days from her first appearance upon the Earth. A feeling of grief and dismay I knew then, so overwhelming and surreal, was, lay claim to my heart, and I wondered then, as I do now, what kind of world will my children inherit. I told her “This is not the nation I grew up in. . . This is not what I wanted for you” with the sad realization that it is the world she must survive in. That evening, and over the course of the next few days, as the story unfolded, we, as a nation, watched transfixed on every little bit of information that could be gleaned and garnered. There were speculations of all sorts, ugly, hateful, non-productive and politically motivated – when what was needed was clarity of mind and truthfulness.
As facts separated themselves from mere conjecture, I realized the family of Martin Richard was not so far removed from my own. While my husband will most likely never run a marathon, Martin was in third grade. Our son is in third grade. Martin’s little sister is in first. Our youngest daughter is also in first. The mere thoughts of losing a son and such a grave injury to a daughter fill me with horror. I grieve and pray for the loss. The injuries to the mother remind me of precious friends and mothers I have known whose sudden, unexpected reversals and declines strike fear in the heart of every mother – no one wants their child to witness such heartbreak first hand. Yet, they do.
This morning my husband and son were up before school and work, watching the news together. I had known another painful night and was happy for a few extra moments in bed before waking up my girls. My little guy came into my room and put his head close to mine – “Mommy”, he said excitedly but in a hushed tone, “they caught one of the men in Boston. They shot and killed him. They are still looking for the other one”. With tears in his eyes and a voice that was breaking, he went on to recount the media’s story of the little boy running to hug his father, and being killed by the blast on the way back to his mother. You could tell that he saw himself in Martin Richard –separated now from a father he loved. He told me about the little girl, Martin’s sister, who had lost her leg; and it was apparent he was awash in the realization that she was probably very much like the little sister he adores.
In that moment I reached out for my son and consoled him as best I could. I reassured him of our belief that one day Martin Richard will see his family again, and of the joy they will know on that day. I held him close and told him I loved him. “Mommy”, he said, “what they did was evil”. Where, once I was glad for sleeping babies, I was now assured that my son is awake. I did not awaken him; it is the evil that lurks in the world outside my doors that has caught his attention. Where once we chased monsters from under beds and from out closets, he is now recognizing that this world has real monsters to be battled.
I realize there are those who would condemn us for allowing our children to see and hear of such things. But, reality pervades and creeps into every life, whether we like it or not. It colors the world, and paints it in tones of distrust and confusion. Muddying the waters with the magical thinking of not here, not us; or failure to address it in a face forward manner serves no purpose but disillusionment. I would rather my children hear truth from the mouths of those who love and care for them, then misinformation from others. I can only comfort, strengthen and support when I am honest and forthcoming.
Notwithstanding anyone’s claims that my children belong to the community or that I signed them over to the government because I have a marriage license, recorded information about their birth with the department of health or have a social security card for them, it is my duty and privilege is to raise them to be responsible, productive and awake adults. As parents, now is not the time to slumber and bury our heads, because our children are depending upon our decisions and our guidance. The battle is not merely for their bodies to fill factories with workers, coffers with taxes, and armies with soldiers. The battle is for their souls. Evil is afoot and takes the guise of many things. It’s face was clear in Boston on Monday. It is alive in de-population rhetoric which says the ends justifies the means as it forces abortion upon unwilling women. And, it is alive and well in the guise of governmental protectionism that seeks to protect us from our natural born rights to self-preservation, denies our children of the right to a mother, and usurps other precious freedoms. Separate us from these things and you have shells of who and what we are meant to be. Convince us or our children that we or they have no rights, or to give up those rights under the guise of protection, and you create a nation of sheep to be lead to the slaughter. As an individual, my position on these things had never been so keenly honed until the days after 9/11, when I held my first child. This awakening has been painful and rude . . . For ourselves, for our nation, and especially for our children, now is not the time to hit the snooze bar.