Friday, December 14, 2012

What the Fuck is Wrong With People?

As I'm sure you have heard, there was a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut today. Since it just happened a few hours ago, I don't have a lot of the details. Even if I did, I certainly wouldn't want to rehash them here. The truth of the matter is, I want nothing more than to stick my fingers in my ears and repeat "LA-LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" any time someone at work (or on my Facebook feed) brings it up.

I'm not trying to minimize the tragedy. I'm not saying I don't care. It's just that this is the sort of thing I can't even being to think about without completely breaking down. My stomach ties itself in knots just reading the headlines for these kinds of stories, let alone the gory details.

The thing is, I lost a child. Obviously I did not lose a Kindergartener who had been the biggest part of my life for years. My loss was much earlier than that, so I won't claim to know how the parents of those children must feel. The thought of their babies, terrified and crying for them in a place they are supposed to be safe... it makes me shake in horror. It makes me want to puke. I can't even imagine how it must make their parents feel, knowing their children lost their lives in such a gruesome, violent manner.

My point is just that things like this hit me differently than they do a lot of other mothers, I think. My Facebook feed is filled with friends, family, and aquaintances talking about how they can't wait to get home and hug their kids. How terrifying it is to think that, even in elementary school, you can't ever be sure that they are safe. The difference for me is that is how I feel all the time.

I feel like it would be absolutely disrespectful to compare my stillborn baby to the children who were tragically gunned down this morning, so I want to be careful to say that I'm really not trying to do that. My point is more the reaction from other parents.

When I lost Nicholas, every drop of "that could never happen to me" left my body. I don't ever doubt how quickly and unexpectedly a tragedy could cross my path. Or Caitlyn's. For the most part, absent of a current, relatable tragedy such as the one that happened today, I think most people fall on the other side of the fence. Most people want to believe statistics. They want to believe that if there is a 98% chance something will never happen, that of course they wouldn't be part of the 2% with the terrible luck.

During my pregnancy with Caitlyn, I had an overlap with both of my sister's pregnancies as well. April was near the end of her pregnancy when I got pregnant, and Samantha had just found out she was a few weeks before I did. My loss was certainly on everyone's mind, because it was just 6 months prior. In fact, April was already a few months pregnant when I lost Nicholas. They never talked to me about their fears for their own children, but my mom told me not too long ago that they were both terrified. "That will never happen to me" just hit a little too close to home.

I wonder though, if now, years after the fact, they still have the same fears I do. I mean, every parent worries for the safety of their child, but i think I do to an excessive degree. I never feel 100% sure that I'll see Caitlyn again. Every time I strap her into her carseat, I kiss her goodbye. Just in case we are in a terrible car accident and she doesn't make it, I want her to know she is loved. Even when she is being difficult and crying and fighting me while I try to strap her in, I give her a kiss and tell her I love her. About half the time in the mornings, I wake up and think to myself "she's sleeping too soundly. Did she suffocate in her sleep?". On the rare occasions when I make plans without her, I always find myself fearing that something will happen to her before I return, and I'll have squandered my last precious hours that could have been spent with her doing selfish, unimportant shit.

Sometimes I have to tell myself that I'm being obsessive, or that she will almost definitely be fine. I have to remind myself that my sanity and my ability to be a good mother to her depends on occasionally giving myself a break. But I never, ever tell myself that something could never happen. Unfortunately, the older she gets, the more there are outside influences in play. I'm surprisingly not a crazy overprotective mom, but I mostly attribute that to the fact that my own mom never stopped me from doing things I wanted to do and always trusted and encouraged me. I know when it comes to decision-making, she will be trusted and trustworthy. It's all the stuff outside of both of our control that utterly terrifies me.

Ironically, Caitlyn had her first taste of preschool today. Our babysitter's son celebrated his 4th birthday today and his preschool allowed Caitlyn to stick around and join in the festivities. It was very nice of them, and I got a bunch of very cute, very big girl schmoozing with the other big kids pictures sent to my phone. It made me a little excited to see her so very ready for the next step that will eventually come, but also a little sad to see her embracing such a big step without me. And then all hell broke loose and I had to breathe and type and try not to cry at my computer.