By Amy Amatangelo
Time changes when you become a parent.
Or at least it did for me.
I’m not talking about how fast the years go by, which, of course, they do. I look at pictures of my daughter from last Christmas and I cannot believe how much she has changed in the past year. And how it doesn’t seem like it’s been 12 months since I was last stressing about preparing for Christmas.
I’m talking about the other cliché about parenthood – the years are fast but the days are long. For me, the perspective shift on time happened while I was pregnant. Before I became pregnant if I heard about someone having a miscarriage, I thought it was very sad and felt a great deal of sympathy for the parents. But it wasn’t until I became pregnant myself that I really understood how long six, eight, ten or 12 weeks of pregnancy truly is. That those are weeks full of hopes and plans and dreams for your unborn child. Weeks of reading pregnancy books and getting weekly email updates. Weeks of sharing the news with family and friends. While I was blessed to have a healthy pregnancy, I understood the pain of those who have miscarried more acutely.
And when I think about the tragedy in Newtown, I think not only of the birthdays, graduations, and weddings those beautiful children had ahead of them. I think of how many diaper changes, baths and bedtime routines happen in six or seven years. How many jars of food are spoon fed. How many books are read. How many teeth are brushed. How many loads of laundry are done. How many songs are sung. How many nights are spent up with a sick child. How many milestones are celebrated. How many family vacations are taken. How many smiles are smiled. I think about all the parental worry that can happen in six or seven years. Will she ever toilet train? Is he eating right? Am I picking the right preschool?
So much life happens in six or seven years. It is way too short amount of time to parent a child. But it also a long time to be someone’s parent. I think about this and it tears me to my very core as I grieve for the parents of the Newtown victims and any parent who has lost a child.
Thank you, Amy, for thinking about those parents in a deep and caring way. I have four children, the oldest was killed in a car accident at 18 – two weeks before graduating high school. He was an amazing person. Really, he was and still is. Of course he had his flaws, but he had a heart full of love for anyone he met…and I mean anyone. Teachers that other kids hated, he found a way to love. He had an eye for the social outcast and did everything he could to include them in his circle. …and he was known for this. He was my soul mate intellectually and spiritually -and we stayed up late at night talking about everything…philosophy, music (i’m a musician) people’s behavior, how to function with love in a world of confusions….everything. He was handsome, very popular, reckless and pious at the same time. I miss him every minute of every day and always will.
Time stopped when he died. I died. But I have other kids who I’m madly in love with and my husband and I have to CHOOSE to live everyday. Usually many times a day.
The reason I’m thanking you for your kind thoughts is this: When someone’s child dies, often other parents somehow NEED to blame the child’s parents. I think it’s a defensive mechanism that some people use so they can mentally protect themselves from this tragedy happening to them. “Well, they did this….and that’s why it happened. I’m never doing that!” Then, immediately, the whole family becomes “that family” and most people start avoiding you. It’s very strange and places you in a time warp that is so weird, surviving it is almost impossible. Time stops. But it doesn’t. Instead of six seats at the restaurant, you now need five. Instead of four lunches made every day, you now only need three. Bits and pieces don’t fit together anymore and you start to see the empty place in the world where your child would be. It’s like always looking at a negative of a picture instead of the actually picture.
So, thank you for a simple kindness. Whilst stumbling around the internet today…I found a friend. Happy trails to you.
Hi Amy! This is awesome I have been tnhiknig of starting a blog for a long time, and just got serious about it recently. Am also a SAHM with two little boys who are 8 years apart! I can totally understand the need for companionship and outside socializing, lol! I can’t wait to get mine under way. I’ve been working from home for a long time, but never tried blogging. Been putting it off too long. It’s like a whole new world. Glad I found you there are so many inspiring moms out there keep it up! Lora Lee