Letter to my daughter after the Las Vegas shooting

Dear Daughter,

On Sunday, we asked you how old you are and you happily replied, “I’m two years old!” Later that same day, a mass shooting occurred in Las Vegas at a country music festival. Many lost their lives and many were injured.

You are only two years old. As you grow, you’ll begin to understand things like hate and tragedy and injustice. You may wonder if it’s better to “stay home/play it safe” or live your life and risk being caught in crossfire (these hate shootings have happened at school, at a movie, at a concert, etc). And how do we respond after tragedy? Baby, your momma doesn’t have all the answers. But I want to share with you what I do know to be true.

After first learning of the shooting and through out the day, I couldn’t help but cry. As Glennon Doyle says it best: “you are not a mess. you are a feeling person in a messy world.” That describes me well. Your momma feels things deeply. You may too. Despite what society may tell you, this is OK. The Bible even instructs us to “mourn with those who mourn.” After tragedy strikes, you aren’t weak if it impacts you. You are a feeling person in a messy world.

Unfortunately, life is not safe. Even for those of us who live in the 1st world. Life is fragile. There’s no guarantee on how our lives will play out. Life is not fair. Bad things happen to really great people. Baby girl, safe can’t be the goal. I can’t even keep you safe all of the time. Despite this reality, we can be brave (doing the right thing scared). And we can focus on the things within our control like living and loving well by doing “small things with great love” – Mother Teresa. With whatever number of days we are given, we can love God and others more and more, and we can find joy in ordinary moments. Life is short but we can live it well when we live with this understanding “there’s a reason I’m alive for the blink of an eye” – Mercy Me.

Lastly, when tragedy strikes, remember this quote by Mr. Rogers. And in addition to noticing all the helpers, be one of them.

Rogers

I love you baby girl. Always & forever.
-Mom

Parent Confessions

My first parent confession happened several years ago. Out of seemingly nowhere, a father shared with me that if he could go back in time he would choose not to have children. This surprised me as he seemed to love children and was a doting and devoted father of two.

Recently,  I was out for lunch with an empty nester. She said the following to me, “I didn’t think it through before having children.” She stated that she was happy in her marriage and thought that the next logical step was to have a baby.  She shared with me that she didn’t think that the sacrifice was worth it in the end.

While I was surprised by the two “wouldn’t do it again” confessions, I found myself even more surprised by a different kind of statement.  In the lunchroom, a mother said to the group of us that she could see her life as equally fulfilled whether she had a biological child (she does), or adopted instead or had no children at all.

I am not sure why I was told these parent confessions. Maybe because we don’t have children? Maybe they saw me as a safe person to share their regrets with? Whatever the reason, it now causes me to pause when I hear people say,  “you’ll never regret it (children)”. The internet provides anonymous confessions by parents who say that they regret having children.  I wonder if a more accurate expression may be, “it’s likely that you won’t regret it – but I can’t say for certain, you just might.”