From the minute we find out that we are carrying our kids, we try to protect them. We take prenatal vitamins, we give up caffeine and our much beloved glass of wine. We research the best cribs, strollers, car seats and toys. We ransack our once lovely homes for anything that could be potentially harmful. Sharp or breakable knickknacks are hidden away, chemicals safely behind baby locks, every outlet covered, and even sharp table corners are padded.
Then you wait and you watch as things you could never have dreamed about become a life threatening hazard. That gold chain that Grandma Millie passed down to you? An x-ray confirms where that bad boy wound up. It should pass in a few days. The bottom of the metal clothes rack at Target? Six stitches later, that scar will be barely noticeable when he’s 30. Nuke a cold hard boiled egg? There’s not enough vaseline in the free world to make that lip burn feel any better.
We should know by now that we have no control. None. We do everything in our power to make the world safe for our kids. We keep them warm, fed, clothed, happy. We make sure homework is done, teeth are brushed, fairly clean jammies are on. We tuck them in. We kiss them goodnight. We check on them and watch them in peaceful sleep. We make breakfast, scour backpacks for lost homework, yell 3 times to “get your shoes on”, and send them out the door, praying that they remembered to brush their teeth and their hair. And they are gone.
They have traveled completely beyond our realm of control. We send them out the door and into to a world that is full of people who can hurt them. And every single day we should say a prayer of thanks when they return to us unscathed.
I have no words of solace to give. The coming weeks will examine every minute detail of what happened. We will know what kind of cereal the gunman ate this morning. We will debate metal detectors, gun control and mental health parity. And in the end, none of this will make our kids any safer from the world as it is.
So hold them. Kiss them. Remind them that they are loved even when you find their week old sausage biscuit under the bed. Because life gives us no guarantees, no promises. Because the world is a scary place. Because try as we might, we can never completely protect our children, the best we can do is to love them, fully, completely, for as long as we get to.