What I Wouldn't Give

Just like most parents, this weekend Hubby and I were kind of lax and reflective when it came to our sons. We insisted on a family night on Saturday despite their protests of not wanting to put on nice pants to go to dinner.

We smiled through the whining during dinner and gave calm reminders to use quiet voices at the restaurant.

We gently chided with them about which Christmas lights we would look at and which neighborhoods we would drive through.

And one of us gave someone a dessert even though it was well past bedtime. Because he was crying that he hadn't liked his desert earlier.

One of us made chocolate chip cookies for the Sunday School program she forgot about while the one year old sat on the counter and "helped.".

And one of us just enjoyed the extra snuggle time with said one year old until midnight because he had fallen asleep in the car earlier looking at the Christmas lights.

Almost all of us parents gave extra desserts, played longer, and hugged harder this weekend.

And then maybe some of us yelled again this morning at someone to get dressed, find his glasses, just get in the car already.

And that's okay, too.

They're kids, people we love. We only get irritated with people we love. If we don't care about someone, we don't give a rip what they do, right?

The Sunday School program has been the same every year. The little cherubs stumble through the alphabet telling the story of Jesus' birth.

This year, I looked at it with new eyes. I looked up on stage and saw a bunch of babies - four and five year olds - with bright little faces. Most were like deer in headlights, scared to even move or sing.

But not my little five year old rockstar!

Mommy, I'm an angel! And I'm wearing this
on my head. But it kinda itches.

As soon as Lil' C found us, his adorable face broke out into one of his huge, toothy grins. "Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!" Yes, my child was the only child shouting from the stage.

The entire performance, he smiled and waved at us frantically.

And I smiled back and waved frantically, too.

And I cried thinking of 20 families who do not get this today. Who do not get to see their child frantically smiling and waving any more. I didn't think there was enough room in my heart for both the fullness of love and the ache of hurt.

But, it's been there before. It made me think of three days after Joey's funeral. Slim was in a Vacation Bible School program. I was listening to the children's sweet voices and feeling so angry because Joey should have been one of the children on stage. I had to leave, go out to the lobby, and have a cry.

What I wouldn't give to have Joey back with us. What those 20 families wouldn't give to have their children today. To have it be just another ordinary day - drop off and errands and dinner started and pick-up and homework and bedtime.

What I wouldn't give for this world to be safe and happy for my kids.

We all say at some time: What I wouldn't give to be able to pee in peace/have a night out with my friends/have a date with my spouse/have some quiet time for me/go on an adult vacation.

We all would give anything for a little more freedom sometimes.

Except our children. As much as they make us angry, drive us nuts, get on our nerves, piss us off, the bottom line is they are our lives. They reside in our hearts and souls, and we would give our lives for them. I don't know how anyone can be a parent and not think that way.

I would give anything to raise them in a world where people are kind and generous and understanding. Where everyone smiles and loves one another and holds hands and sings, like the old Coca-Cola commercial of the 1970's.

But it's not that simple of a time anymore, just like the '70's weren't really a simple time either.

I would give anything for assault rifles to be banned from getting into the hands of ordinary citizens. For violent games and movies to be banned and for violence to be abhorred rather than glorified.

I would give anything for the news media to just go away. Stop going over and over the details of every shooting - the weapons used, the bullets used, what the bullets do, how the shooter accessed the building. One channel of our local news the other night said they would not say the shooter's name out of respect for the victims. Finally. It took 6- and 7-year-old babies to bring a little respect from the news media.

I would give anything to know for certain that my boys will be safe and happy their whole lives. To never be the victims of violence or cancer or freak accidents. I would give anything to be certain that they would never be the cause of harm to anyone else. But even that I cannot guarantee.
I would give anything if I knew all the answers or how to fix things or make the world a better place.

But I don't. I can only give the best that I have and teach that to my children. That's all any of us can do.

Read here for 7 ways to keep your kids safe from gun violence. 
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