A letter to my 3rd baby girl, Kaylen Hope.
Someday you will read this letter, a long long time from now. You might be 10 or you might be 20 or you might be a mommy with a baby budget of your own. You remember that we called you baby budget, right? And that it’s short for “fussbudget” which is all you were for the first few months of your life? And then you turned into Hurricane Kaylen. Somedays you were sad at yourself for being a Hurricane – but then you realized that it was a good nickname because Hurricanes are strong. And you are very very strong. Strong-willed mostly. But I hope that someday that bullheaded stubbornness serves you well.
Tonight I am sitting here with tears in my eyes because something horrible happened today. A man walked into a school and killed a class full of Kindergarteners, for no reason other than he hated his mom, and wanted to take away what his mom loved most – her kindergartener students in her classroom. today, in 2012, I have shielded you from this. I wish I could always shield you from all the evil that happens in this world. But for today, I can save you from this evil. I heard the story over facebook minutes before you were set to walk out the door to head to your own kindergarten class. At that time I had no idea that it was a classroom of Kindy students, or else i may not have sent you out that door. (not that I could ever stop you – you have loved going to school since the first minute you could!) It had also been “one of those mornings” – the kind we have far too often these days.
The kind of morning where I am trying desperately to stay on top of all of Kendall’s medical needs because we don’t have a nurse, and every time I turn around to mix a medication, empty a bag, get something ready – you and Kendall are in another room making a mess out of something. Destroying something. Ruining yet another item/piece of furniture/toy that we’ve spent money on simply because it seemed like fun at the time. The kind of morning where I didn’t talk to you so much as yell at and correct and roll my eyes at you and your incessantly hard to handle behavior. Your daddy has been travelling a lot the last couple weeks. He has to for work, and while that is normally an ok thing for me to handle, having to be full time nurse to Kendall, full time mommy to all of you, and trying to somehow come up with a way to make Christmas magic happen has worn me down. I have no patience left for much of anything. I am not proud to admit it. I have been a very bad mommy the last few weeks. Most especially to you. You and I butt heads like none other. I say the sky is blue and you challenge me that it’s even a sky.
You have not been “healthy” in months. I am so tired of fighting with you to get you to eat or drink something, to stop the incessant snacking, to stop the incessant mess-making destruction and just keep the house clean for five minutes PLEASE. I have not loved you like you need, given you the attention you need, been the mommy you need, probably since Kendall was born if I am honest. I try. I try really really hard to find ways to be with you, do special things with you – and they all somehow end up with us frustrated at each other. I don’t know exactly why this is. You need so much more than I have available left to give most days. I am so very sorry baby girl.
So when I sent you out to the bus this morning, I knew that something bad was going on at another school – but it was a half a country away. And surely you would be safe. you were blissfully innocent and unaware of what was happening. As you should be.
But i came back inside and heard more and more of the tragedy unfolding in that far-away town in Connecticut – and it hit me so hard. 18 little kindergarteners – just like you and your best friend Lauren and your friend Umaimah, and your other friend Isabella, and Yahira, and Ethan, and all the other little boys and girls in your class…They were brutally killed. Instead of counting to 100 and trekking down to the library, they were being trekked in ambulances to the hospital.
Maybe their mommies had sent them off that morning like I send you off so many mornings – with a sigh of relief that a few hours of peace and quiet are here. That i can finally think a whole thought in my head. That I can turn off the crazy cartoons, clean up the mess of bowls and plates and other assorted chaos and just BREATHE for a few hours. Let someone else answer your questions and deal with your emotional outbursts and answer your 830 requests for another snack for a few hours.
Except it wasn’t for just a few hours for those moms. It was forever.
And it hit me like a ton of bricks – what if I didn’t have your messes to clean up anymore? what if you never came bouncing down those huge bus steps and running up to the front door like you do every day? what if i never felt your little arms wrapped tightly around my neck again, or heard your screams of anguish at your sister messing something up, or had you throwing a fit in the middle of the walmart again? I would do ANYTHING to have all of it back…ANYTHING.
As much as you drive me to the brink of alcoholism some days – you are my amazing hope and joy and reason for living. You make me laugh like no one else does with the crazy things you say and do some days. You make every day a party. You rock a striped stripes with polka dots in fluorescent colors outfit like nobody’s business. You march to your own beat and you don’t care what anyone else has to say about that. You are amazing.
So when that bus pulled up to our stop today, I was out there waiting for you. I scooped you up in my arms and just held on tight for a few seconds – until you started whining that i was crushing your cardinal cash. I was just so very glad to see you. I want to be that glad to see you every day. I want to be the mommy you need me to be. I want you to know every second of every day that I love you with all of my heart.
My heart is still aching for those mommies who will not have a warm bodied little kindergartener to tuck into bed tonite. with all those presents that will sit unopened on Christmas morning. I cannot even begin to fathom the depths of pain and torment and anguish over their lives cut far far far too short.
I wish I knew why there was so much pain and evil in this world. Like I said – I wish I could shield you from it forever. i wish you could always live in this perfect innocence of kindergarten – where everybody shares, and everybody gets along, and as long as you have a full box of crayons and a working glue stick, you can solve any problem you need to.
But I can’t. I can only equip you the best way I know how to deal with it. Always be the light that the world needs to see. You are that light. Jesus in you is that light. Let it shine, little girl, let it shine. Be your beautiful crazy hurricaney self and never let anyone or anything change that. I’m so so sorry that it took a senseless tragedy like this to open my eyes to the amazing gift before me every day – the gift of having YOU. And all your sisters. I love you all. But tonight, you are the one on my heart the most.
I just really really love you, baby budget. My kaylen hope…
My thoughts and prayers are with the families enduring this horrific tragedy in Newton, CT. I pray that the God whose peace passes all understanding is with them at this time in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend.
i am thankful for my girls’ school, that it is always locked, that it has a very set plan of security and action and that was enacted today when there was first word about the shooting. Kealey asked us at dinner what had happened. We hadn’t brought anything up, but she had seen something on her Instagram, and then told us that they had a soft lockdown today. Growing up in small private schools, Ben and i had no idea what soft lockdown meant. It breaks my heart a little bit that my kids have to know what a lockdown is. That they have to have lockdown drills. When I was little, we had tornado drills and that was super fun and all getting to go into the *giggle giggle* boys bathroom!!!! And sit with our heads between our knees for a few minutes. Anyways – Kealey said that in a lockdown drill, the office lady gets on the PA and announces whatever they are doing and always emphasizes the DRILL part – “Sorry for the interruption Liberty staff and students, but we are entering a lockdown DRILL.” Kealey said – “except today she didn’t say drill. And we all had to be locked into the classrooms, but since it was a soft lockdown, we had to stay at our desks and continue learning. In a hard lockdown we all have to get into the cubbies and turn off the lights.” (the classrooms are designed so that the cubbies are all against the same wall that the door is on – the doors all have very narrow small windows – if they were in the cubbies they would be unseen by anyone at the door.)
Oh…i have NEVER EVER EVER EVER in my whole entire life even once for half of a nanosecond considered homeschooling. But in that minute, as my 10 year old is describing to me what lockdown drills involve, I wanted to scoop them all up, move to montana, live off the land and never ever interact with another human being as long as we all shall live so help me Jesus.
I know that fear is never the answer. We will continue on as we have, firm in our resolve to not let evil win.
If anything has changed, it will be that I think everyone will hug their kids a little tighter, play a real game with them instead of letting the ipad babysit them, maybe be like REAL families again. I know that’s how it is for me. I have so very much I could say on all of this – but I am cried out at the moment. Absolutely spent. It is late. My babies are in their beds. Life is good.
Pray for our nation, friends.
Hug your kids tight.
Be the light our world needs. It starts with you. And me. And all of us.