Mourning the loss of childhood innocence

I woke up this morning to the sight of my little boy sleeping peacefully. The terrible events that unfolded last Friday gave me a renewed sense of gratitude for his safety, but also the recognition that I will never be able to protect him from all the bad in life. Terrible, unspeakable things happen on rough city streets and in sleepy, picturesque towns. And there is nothing I can do to guard him from experiencing bad things in life. One day, he will face the troubling realization that life is full of uncertainty, unfairness, and loss.

For the most part, our society recognizes childhood innocence as something sacred—something to be protected lest it be disturbed too soon. We understand that childhood innocence is fleeting and the rest of life exposes us to a host of sad, scary, serious things.

Although I can’t wait to share the amazing and beautiful parts of the world with my son as he grows, I am sad that the good things of life must go hand-in-hand with the hard parts: fear, disappointment, temptation, evil. I know my job as a mom is not to shield him from these things, but to prepare him to face the tough stuff when the time comes. And somehow I already know that it will be more difficult for me to witness his pain than it is for me to experience it myself. Such is the condition of parenthood, I’m learning.

Being a parent has allowed me to experience the deepest and most profound love I could ever imagine. But it has also made me more vulnerable than I have ever been before. Truly, my own heart now exists outside of my body.

It is through this new lens of parenthood that I viewed the recent tragedy, and why it is even more earth-shattering for me to think about. I can’t imagine the kind of pain those families and that community is grappling with. My thoughts and prayers, however insignificant they may be, are sent the way of all those suffering from this trauma.

My hope is that our children whose innocence has been shattered by this and other awful events in life will also be fortunate enough to perceive the good that coexists with the bad. That they will remember the fear and the loss, but also the courage of those they loved, the strength of their community, and the sense of commonality that tragedy brings out among us.

Writing like no one is watching

Right along the lines of perfectionism and procrastination is the terrible, awful, crippling habit of avoidance. Avoidance is different than procrastination in that I try my darndest, not to delay a task, but to avoid ever doing the task I dread.

This habit most definitely stems from perfectionism—if I feel as though I have failed in some way, it is so disturbing to me that I seek to somehow never face up to whatever it was that made me feel like a failure again. Ever. Even if I have to alphabetize the bookshelf, re-wrap the lights on the Christmas tree, or write snail mail letters to avoid my email, I take avoidance seriously. And it is driving me crazy.

One of the things I am ashamed to say I am avoiding is writing a new post for this blog. Two years ago, when I started blogging, I was pretty certain no one would ever read my posts. And I was OK with that—my inner thoughts were just out there, floating. It provided some creative release without revealing anything to anyone.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always wanted to be an active blogger. I was just a little scared of what people would think of what I thought, or that I don’t have anything all that interesting to say.

Then I was freshly pressed. I realize how very fortunate that is, and I am very grateful. I was truly humbled and inspired by the response to my previous post “Having it all, or losing my mind?” The response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, and I am so thankful for each person who took the time to read and comment.

So I should be relieved, right? Unfortunately, not quite.

I began to think about the list of ideas I had for future posts. Suddenly, they all seemed terrible. People may actually be watching and reading now. I had to raise the bar! Cue the avoidance.

I don’t want this to come off as though I have no confidence in my writing. It’s just, in typical “me” fashion; I have analyzed and avoided the situation to the point of paralysis.

However, like so many of the other challenges I’ve faced, the only way for me to feel better about the situation is to write about it. In order to un-avoid the situation is to write it out as honestly as possible—as if no one is reading.

Of course, if you are reading—thank you. I really will get better about this!