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a letter to my son at 20 months old,

a letter to my son at 20 months old,

August 28, 2006

Today I inadvertently read the news online. I hate the news. I hate reading about terrible things happening to people all over the world. Things that are completely out of my control.

I hate that now since I have children I see their face on the child in every story of abuse. Every child is my child.

Today I happened to read a horrific story in which the baby was 18 mos old. I didn’t mean to read it. I stopped after the first paragraph. But it was too late.

I could only picture your face. Your chubby little hands. Your chubby cheeks. Your voice. Your laugh. Your tears. The way that you seek me out for comfort when you are in pain.

A baby still, just on the cusp of being a child. Still unable to do much for yourself. Still dependent on others. Still unable to protect yourself.

You pushed your granola bar into my face and I unwrapped it for you. I am careful to leave the bottom the granola bar fully wrapped, they way you like it.

“Day-doo” you said and marched off with it clutched in your right hand.

I watched the back of your head walk away. Out the back door to where your siblings were playing on the swingset. I watched through the screen as you happily marched over there to play with them. Your left arm swinging with such purpose.

I wanted to go and grab you back. To make you stay next to me. Letting go of any of you, my children, is not always easy. But today it is you that I want to hold onto most of all.

Today it is your face that will flash across my mind in quiet moments. Today it is you that I will silently worry about growing up. Today it is you that I will find myself staring at without even realizing I am.

And it is days like today that I wish I were religious. Days like today when I wish I could throw up my hands and say, “Oh it is all in God’s hands. He has plans for you.” And feel comforted by that. But I can’t do that. And I can’t pretend that I do.

And so today I will hug you a little more. And I will tackle you down to the ground outside in the soft wet grass. You will giggle as I smother your chocolaty face with kisses. Until you grow tired of the kisses and push me away. You will run away from me looking over your shoulder laughing all the way. There is a whole world for you to explore. And my eyes will well with tears.

Because there is a whole world to cause you pain. But it doesn’t stop me from wishing the worst thing that will ever happen to you is your granola bar falling in the dirt.

No one ever told me that letting my children grow up would hurt.

Swinging

And I will pray to that god I want to believe in to please keep you safe. Please keep all of you safe.

Posted by Chris @ 9:42 am  

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Comments

  1. Karen says:

    {{{ HUGS }}}

    Karen

  2. Nicki says:

    You’ve started the crying. First thing this morning too. I can remember the first time I felt like that. I was holding my infant son, he was less than 6 months old. I remember exactly how it felt the first time that silent worry and fear hit. I think I’ll go hug both of mine right now. Wonderful blog, Chris. Just wonderful.

  3. Much More Than A Mom says:

    Oh dear, Chris. It’s 8 am and here I sit with tears on my cheeks watching my 4 month old son bounce in his chair while blowing spit bubbles with a big smile on his face. It amazes me how we love them.

  4. other chris says:

    i’m all choked up. you paint such vivid pictures with your words. my ‘baby’ turned 14 yesterday and the bond gets stretched a little farther. you are to be commended for remembering the good things in the midst of the chaos. rock on.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Yes…

    My oldest is 25, the youngest 8… and it’s still my every moment prayer.

  6. halloweenlover says:

    Now I’m going to get all teary!

    I thought that I’d stop worrying once this baby exited my uterus, so are you telling me that is a no?

  7. Suebob says:

    I think that it was Anne Lamott who said that becoming a parent means never having another peaceful nights’ sleep…and she wasn’t talking about breastfeeding.

  8. Erin says:

    This feeling hit me with all its power the very day after my first son was born–with all the post-partum hormones to back it up–I realized the pain of labor was nothing–that the real pain came with the intesity of love like I had never known before. It’s so terrifying that I sometimes wonder if I’m crazy to be so bold as to bring another innocent life into this world.

  9. Cathy C says:

    Chris, big hugs to you and a prayer to keep you and your family safe, from my family.

  10. rachel says:

    like you, I avoid the news as much as humanly possible. It scares the crap out of me. And plus, I have anxious children who cannot cope with it.

    (((huggs))) and the youngest growing up is bittersweet, isn’t it?

  11. Jen says:

    I remember the day that I looked into my newborn’s eyes and felt the true pain of love. I loved her so much, it hurt, really truly hurt, as if someone had just punched me in the chest. I love my husband, I love my sisters, my parents, and so on, but I know that I could survive if something happened to one of them. I can’t imagine surviving the loss of one of my children.

    Sometimes I worry that I may be too over-protective because I fear losing them too much.

  12. mary Anne says:

    Chris
    Letting go is the hardest, letting them spend time with someone else, handing over the car keys,…leaving them at preschool,grade school,college and now the alter… It doesn’t get any easier to do but the rewards of a new degree of relationship with that child makes the pain of it lessen. letting go is tough but oh so necessary.
    hugs
    mak

  13. judi casey says:

    yup, letting go is the hard part.
    and yet, in many ways, the most rewarding.
    you can look at them, smile, and think- a job well done.
    nothing more satisfying than that!

  14. the womom says:

    “And I will pray to the god I no longer believe in to please keep you safe”

    I do this every night. It kind of weirds me out.

  15. Susan says:

    I also find myself praying to a god I don’t believe in, and praying more fervently than in the days before my sons were born, when I believed but didn’t have anything I really wanted to pray about.

  16. Jes says:

    “And it is days like today that I wish I were religious.”

    This thought I think weekly. Sometimes I think being religious, feeling that connection, would make life so much more…what? Rewarding? Happier? Safer?

    In my line of work, I work with many religious people, and being able to really understand what they are talking about would increase my bond with them. But I can’t. Instead I keep quiet, silently smiling and nodding. Kind of like an unspoken agreement that God really provided…

    I think it is the one subject that I don’t speak up on, and I don’t really know why. Thanks for putting that line out there. I think there are many of us that “wish” to be religious, but for one reason or another, just don’t feel that way.

  17. InterstellarLass says:

    Since my babies aren’t babies, I’ve forgotten what they do when they are so small. But I could picture your son marching across the back yard in a little toddler walk, swinging that arm like crazy. Thank you.

  18. Fold My Laundry Please says:

    I can’t watch news stories or read articles about terrible things happening to children either. I spend the next week or so having nightmares about something happening to my babies and dealing with horrific visions popping into my head. When the Jon Benet Ramsey case popped back into the news recently, I had to turn off the television entirely.

  19. Debbie says:

    “Day-doo” … how a-whish-ious. Couldn’t you just BITE them…

  20. kks says:

    Bless your heart…my prayer for you is that you come to know that the God you no longer believe in loves you infinitely more than you love your precious child.

  21. Wooden Porch says:

    I don’t want my two children to grow up either. My first baby was stillborn, and even though that was four and a half years ago, I still think (every single day) “please don’t take these children from me today”, because really we moms can’t control everything. Usually we controll nothing.

    Right now they are both napping so at this moment I don’t want either of them to get one day older. (It’ll be a different story later this afternoon when they’re both crying.) I posted a similar letter to my daughter on my blog.

  22. Anne says:

    Why don’t you believe in God?

  23. Tonja says:

    That’s too bad that you’ve lost your faith in God. I think having kids restored my faith. Give Him another chance, He’s gotten you this far! :o)

  24. Tonja says:

    That was suppose to be… :) lol

  25. T in HD says:

    I remember when I came home from hospital with my first baby. I was up late with a wakeful baby and saw a news magazine on shaken baby syndrome. They told the story of a newborn who died from being shaken by his father and showed a picture of the father holding the baby in the hospital just after birth with that hospital baby cap on and the ointment still in his eyes. It hit me like a brick in the face. That was *my* baby. I had no idea that that was how I would now cope with every story about hurting children from now on. I’d never understood my sister’s “overreaction” to these stories (she already had two by that time). Now I did.

    If there ever was a reason to regret becoming a mother it is because we cannot help but put our child’s face on every child whom we hear or read about in every sad or horrible story. I know I could turn into a lionness for any child. I could kill to save any child. Who knew that becoming a mother would make us feel like the mother of every child in the world?

  26. Gwen says:

    Once you are a mother, every child is yours.

    I’m sorry you’re not religious. I am. And so I will pray for you, and your kids, and all the other children, because we are all in this together.

  27. kathryn, dym says:

    I can tell you for sure that it doesn’t matter how religious you are, you will have days when you feel lost and scared and worried for your kids.

    So God loves all his children. So I know this and when I see stories like the one you’re talking about, I still get that sick feeling and think “He loves that baby. I love mine. He loves mine but these things still happen in a hard hard world where people are allowed to make choices and if we weren’t, what would be the point of living, but because we are free to choose, people are going to make bad horrible choices that affect my family or other people I love.”

    We fear because we love and anyone who says that they never fear, never suffer and never have these feelings you express because their faith in God is too strong is not being honest with herself.

    I find huge comfort in my religious faith but the comfort comes after the storms of fear and doubt, not instead of them.

    You’re a good mom Chris. You will do everything you can for your kids and they will love you for it.

    For now, I’ll give you some advice from Dan because although you haven’t met, I’m fairly sure you believe in him.

    Don’t borrow trouble. Then you waste today worrying about what might happen tomorrow and tomorrow will likely be beautiful for every one of your kids.

    When you read about someone else’s trouble and you can do something about it, do it. If there’s truly nothing you can do, love your family. (That last part’s from me, not Dan. Remember me? We’ve met and you know I’m very wise…and beautiful.)

  28. liz says:

    Amen.

  29. Lilly says:

    Since my son was born I can’t tolerate the news any more or even movies or books that describe mishaps involving kids. Lalalalala Can’t go there. Too painful.

  30. nabbalicious says:

    I’m choked up. Sometimes with your posts like this, I can almost feel what it’s like to be a mother, you paint it so vividly.

  31. Susan says:

    Chris, it was interesting to read the comments. I wasn’t going to comment at all, only because I didn’t think I had anything of value to add. I probably still don’t.

    I do understand how you feel. I have lost several loved ones in my immediate family, and it raises a lot of questions and and causes me to worry more than most. My mother used to say, “Susan, you die a million deaths! Stop borrowing trouble!” But it’s hard. When you’ve been through so much, it’s hard not to imagine the worst happening to your own children. The ones you love so much it hurts.

    I often think I live life in way too much fear. On the other hand, I also think I feel everything more deeply; I cherish my children, my husband, my friends and just life in general more than most BECAUSE OF the pain I’ve experienced. Traumatic experiences have a way of putting things in perspective. I don’t take the little things for granted. I know how blessed I am, and think about it many times a day.

    Based on what I’ve read of your blog, I am guessing you feel the same. In fact, I recently read several of your entries aloud to my husband, and he said, “Wow–she really looks at things the way you do, huh?”

    ((HUGS)) to you, Chris.

  32. hilary says:

    Very sweet and very heart felt straight from one mom to another. I find myself constantly thinking about some of the tortures I put my parents through when growing up (luckily now I’m the star w/the grandchildren). I can’t even imagine my little 2yr old angel or 5mth old girl who I’ve only just begun to know- putting me through the terror of late nights, slamming doors or the dreaded “I wish I had different parents” yikes… growing up is hard to do!

  33. Elizabeth says:

    Not only can I no longer watch the news or read the first section of the newspaper, I can’t even hear a kid cry at a store without tensing up and feeling my heart pound. What the previous commenter said about feeling like the mother of every child in the world? That is me.

    “Day-doo” is so sweet! We think manners are so important, and it always surprises me to meet kids that don’t seem to have been taught them at all.

  34. christina says:

    What an incredibly powerful post.

    ~The ache of a mothers soul~

  35. owlhaven says:

    oh, Chris, I read this trying to distract myself from crying over my daughter who’s off to college– was writing a similar post about her actually. Your post didn’t help a bit. Now I need a Kleenex even worse.

    Thanks anyway

    Your friend
    Mary, mom to many

  36. peepnroosmom says:

    Chris,
    You seem to be a wonderful and caring mom who loves her children so very much. It hurts me to hear of children being mistreated and I have to turn off the TV when I do hear it. Being a mother makes me very sensitive to the ugliness in the world. I’ve been praying for you and your children since I read this post yesterday.
    Jennifer

  37. ragamuffin says:

    Chris, I love your mother’s heart. I don’t know if you will read this, or if it will be a comfort. But I thought of it upon reading this post and wanted to share it with you. It’s from King David in the Psalms:
    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . .
    My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Ps. 139: 13, 15, 16)

  38. Robbin says:

    Oh Chris, I love your honesty!! I have learned over the years that religion and relationship are not one in the same. Religion alone brings disappointment and leaves questions, but relationship - that my friend brings unimaginable peace.

  39. kelly says:

    yeah even though I’m “religious” I feel the same way you do - makes me ill to read those things - takes me weeks or months to stop seeing the awful images in my head. Why God doesn’t immediately nuke all the people who do those horrible things to helpless people, I don’t understand.

    But then I realize that God should probably also nuke me along with them. OK I’m not a child molester or anything, but just for some days SCREAMING at my children. Whatever excuse I give about being too tired or isolated or unappreciated or whatever, do my kids need to be screamed at? Do they need their heart broken, even for a moment, by the one person on earth who is always supposed to love them? Not to mention that I should also be locked up somewhere for refusing to appreciate the good gifts I have - including a mostly-happy home with four healthy kids, a house all of our own, and a husband who cares.

    Someone once said that if you try to draw a line between good people and bad people, it will run right through the middle of everyone’s heart. I guess I would agree with that.

    I don’t understand the “put a happy face on it, God has plans for that hideous stuff” mentality. One of the things I like about your blog is you don’t run from reality, you don’t pretend everything’s fine when it’s not.

    I keep remembering that in the Bible when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus cried. Even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he was still crying. He didn’t tell Lazarus’s sisters “get over it, God has a plan for your brothers’ death” - he CRIED. It makes me feel like he really does understand, that God isn’t just sitting up there in heaven with his arms folded waiting for people to stop crying… that instead he’s down here with us and he’s crying too.

    Why Lazarus had to die and why little children still have to suffer at the hands of evil people — I don’t understand. I do believe God has the power to nuke the bad guys - and why he holds off? I don’t know. Maybe there’s still hope for them?

    I think the God you don’t believe in does still hear your prayers, and still cries over those little kids with you, even knowing his own plan - just like he cried for Lazarus, who he brought back to life.

  40. TC says:

    I can remember not that long ago hearing an news story and sobbing. I just kept seeing my little girl in that situation. Sometimes it is more than a mother’s heart can take.

  41. biz says:

    In being religious I don’t have expectations on others’ to be so - but wish you to know that we all (as mama’s) have these feelings. I was, sadly - thinking that I wished to be dead the other night. NO not really - but the pain in my heart over all the bad in the world and all the whack-jobs hurting children, made me think momentarily that would end all the pain I feel. No easy out though.

    All I can do is be the best example of love for and to my children.

    Thank you for writing from your heart.

  42. Jo says:

    What a beautiful tribute and yes hon, letting them grow up hurts. I have a 15 year old, a 12 year old, and an almost 4 year old. Watching all of them grow hurts.

    I hate reading or watching the news. It seems like everyday another child is hurt and another sicko is allowed to walk away. In this country a person gets a longer prison sentence for burglary or hurting an animal than they do for killing a child. So messed up.