Last week's Newtown Tragedy has upset me more than almost anything I can think of in my life. I was happily doing some Christmas shopping on Friday when my mother texted me and asked if I had seen the news. She gave some brief statistics and I sat in my car in the parking lot, absolutely horrified. And then I began to sob uncontrollably as I thought of all of those sweet, innocent children whose lives had been taken. I thought of their parents and the absolute and indescribable grief they were surely feeling. Today, I think of the children and teachers who survived. The first responders (I don't even want to imagine). Nobody will ever be the same. I, who doesn't know a soul affected by the tragedy, will never be the same. I have shed tears over it on a daily basis, as I know many of you have. It has affected all of us.
I have a six-year-old. Sophia, my first-grader, is bright and happy and amazing. I love watching her learn to read and write. I love hearing her stories about her friends at school. I love her indomitable will, even though it is often exhausting. I love her pout.
Having all of that ripped away from me is unthinkable, unimaginable, unfathomable. And yet, twenty sets of parents are having to think the unthinkable now.
I have two other daughters who were first-graders not so long ago. I have thought a lot about their little first grade selves this week, too. How blessed I am to have also known their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade selves. And Bria's 5th, 6th, and 7th grade self.
I promise to love you more than ever. To listen to you when you have something important to say, no matter how much work I have in front of me. To teach you everything I know about the Gospel. To pray with you and for you. To hug and kiss you daily. To read to you often. To forget about all of my commitments and spend time with you--the dishes will get done eventually. To help you with your homework without frustration. To answer your questions truthfully. To be patient with you. To teach you how to do the laundry. To teach you how to balance your checking account. To teach you how to clean your room "Mommy clean," but to do it for you sometimes just because. To make you real dinners when Daddy isn't home instead of macaroni and cheese. To send you off to school with kind words, a hug, and a kiss, no matter how difficult our morning was. To take you on more Mommy/Daughter dates. To make a huge deal over your successes and help you grow through your failures. To teach you to treat others with kindness. To be an example to you of all things I want you to become. To be the best mother I can possibly be. To forgive myself when I fall and to do better the next day.
I may not be able to change what happened in Connecticut last week, but I can change myself. I can remember how I have been feeling and keep my children closer than ever. If, heaven forbid, they are ever taken from me too soon, I want to be able to look back and know without a doubt that they knew I loved them and have no regrets.
And now, to give my girls the best Christmas ever--maybe not because of the amount of gifts they receive, but because of the amount of love that is in our home.