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