I stood off to the side in a small classroom with 15 Kindergartners. The song “Happy” played while the “Mom in Charge” (a role which I take great care to never be) orchestrated a game of musical chairs. For a moment, I enjoyed standing among people who made me feel like a giant. While Pharrell sang, my eyes darted between excited little humans marching in a circle and wall displays that depicted the A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s in 57 different ways. I noticed a calendar that told me TODAY IS Wednesday YESTERDAY WAS Tuesday TOMORROW WILL BE Thursday. I saw each month of the year taped high on the wall and each child’s name written carefully in perfect Kindergarten-teacher handwriting, on the month of their birth.
I am brought back to the kids when I hear Meadow’s voice, Mommy, can I help pass out the snack? That’s my cue. I was to bring the “sweet snack”. I walk toward the container that I had placed at the edge of the classroom. As I opened the lid, Mom in Charge saw the sweet heart-shaped cookies, full of pink, purple, and red icing and commented, those look amazing. I smiled back at her, thank you, I told her, before confessing, I bought them at the store and then put them in my container.
(I’m years beyond needing to impress six year olds.)
After another game of duck-duck-goose and the handing out of treat bags, Meadow and I made our way to the parking lot where we would wait for the older siblings to emerge. When we climbed into the car, Meadow began to rummage through her bag. She sorted through the “Ur cute” “QT Pie” and “Be Mine” cards and paid particular attention to a swirly straw that she had received among her Valentine’s treats. As I held my water bottle at an angle for her, she gleefully slurped water like she had just run 10 miles on a humid afternoon.
It’s all so simple, I thought to myself, as I watched her joy at the simple slurp of water.
Then there was a “ding” on my phone. I glanced down. . . “multiple victims in Florida school shooting“.
My heart sank. . . again. . . the thoughts come. . . how do we protect them. . .
What felt simple two minutes ago, suddenly feels so very complicated.
Later that night, after kissing the tops of three heads, I climbed into bed next to Chad and mused about the day. . . the world. (He just loves when I do this.)
(No, he doesn’t.)
There are so many things we can’t control, I said to him, let’s keep us good, okay? Let’s make sure we’re strong. Us. Our Family.
Okay, he answered. I was happy that he seemed to be listening. He continued, You’re right though, I can’t control all the women that are constantly throwing themselves at me.
I hit him. I probably called him a name that I shouldn’t put in print. And I curled up next to him and felt safe.
In that moment, it all feels simple.
This morning, I stood in the driveway with our three kids and waited for the bus. The air was warmer than normal as we chatted.
There was a school shooting in Florida yesterday, I told them. A lot of people died.
They didn’t ask questions–only two simple words were uttered, that’s sad.
The bus wheels rolled up the hill. Six hugs came my way–two from each of them. As they made their way to the end of the driveway, I repeat the words I’ve repeated every single day since they started school. . .
Be kind to everyone today.
Make the world a better place.
Do your best.
Okay, they respond in unison.
In that moment, it all felt simple.
I turned on the news today. Fighting. Ranting. Rage. Anger. Fear.
Scared. We’re all scared.
Answers. We all want answers.
In that moment, it all feels so complicated.
My voice is so small, I know. It’s a mouse squeak in a crowded football stadium. It’s a whisper against a violent, raging wind. I don’t have answers. I’m not sure anyone really does. Still, I have a voice. And when things out there feel so complicated I look right in front of me. . . I look for the simple.
I see three little humans who trust me. Three sets of ears that are listening. Three sets of eyes that are watching.
So when things feel complicated, I will remind them, kindness matters.
When things feel too big out there, I will remind us all that our words matter.
When things feel out of my hands, I will remember what is in my hands.