Monday, December 17, 2012

The thin veil

"Sometimes we love people so much that we have to be numb to it. Because if we actually felt how much we love them, it would kill us. That doesn't make you a bad person. It just means your heart's too big." 
Fay, "Riding in Cars With Boys"

Years ago, I saw this movie and that line struck me and stuck with me. The movie is based on writer Bev D'Onofrio's memoir - teenage pregnancy and marriage, college denied, drug addicted husband, single motherhood. The line was delivered as Bev and Fay were smoking pot and discussing single parenthood while their children played in the yard perilously close to a pool.

Minutes later, Bev is pulling her 6 year old son from the pool he had just fell into. She is, of course, snapped back into reality, promising to be more attentive and responsible. 

Those lines resonate with me because I am not, by nature, an emotional person. I am not an emotional mom. When my children were babies, I did not stare at them for hours or coo and ooh over them. I don't even think I cried when they were born beyond a few tears of joy. I do not think daily about how much I love my children. I do not feel how much I love them on a daily basis. It's as if those feelings are safely sequestered behind a dark, thick curtain rendering me almost numb to them.

There are times, though, when that veil between me and the love I feel for my children becomes thin. It is then that I am closer to truly knowing and feeling how much I love my children and my family and our life. And that happened Friday when 20 six and seven year olds were shot to death.

I can't even describe what it was like this weekend watching and playing and holding my children. Like many parents, I've choked back tears and still do as I watch them and let all those tears out when everyone is sleeping. This is why I have to be numb. I couldn't let my children leave my sight if I truly felt how much I love them on a daily basis.

This weekend, we just took it easy. We played with trains and read books and had movie night and made muffins and went to the museum. And I tried to forget that 20 mothers were facing the unimaginable.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I am grateful for ...
  • a little girl who sets up a picnic for her babies and feeds them watermelon chocolate milk.
  • a little boy who pats my arm gently as we cuddle at bedtime.
  • a big boy who spends hours setting up train tracks and asks me to play games with him.
  • a husband who styles his daughter's hair complete with detangling spray, a blow dry and a braid.
And most of all, I am grateful that I and so many others can't wrap our heads around what happened today in Connecticut. It means we're all still human.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Insanity by candlelight

For the past few weeks, we've been eating dinner by candlelight. The kids have been much calmer at dinnertime. Previously, we couldn't keep them in their chairs or their food on their plates or the noise level below a dull roar.

They come to expect it now. They ask to light the candles. We have quieter conversations. I don't have to see just how messy my 2 year old is. At least two of the kids actually ask to be excused from the table and even take their plates to the kitchen.

This week, I put out the advent candles. They are situated in a lovely ceramic nativity scene. So for the past three nights, I've lit the first candle as dinner begins. Then comes the begging to light the other three candles in the Advent wreath. 

This evening, I served dinner in bowls. Apparently it was the last straw for Owen, who did not have the benefit of a nap to temper his irrationality.

He wanted a plate. So I obliged, mostly to just stop the tears. I brought back three small plates to save myself a trip because, as any seasoned mom knows, if you bring one kid a plate, you darn well better bring all three of them a plate.

Owen and Fiona begin transferring their food. Crisis averted. For now.

I then spent the next 10 minutes fielding questions from my 6 year old about why he was given a plate. He suddenly seemed confused by this strange object next to his bowl.

And then Fiona, who is eating dinner in her underwear, is suddenly on the verge of tears.

"I didn't want to eat on a plate," she wails.

So, um, is that why you took the trouble to put the food on the plate, dear? That's probably what I should have said to her. Instead, I poured her food onto the table and told her to eat it off the table.

Then I dared anyone else to complain about anything. Ever. Well, at least until after dinner.