A Mother Reflects on How Our Young People, are Amazing.
“Only when you become a mother,
does your judgment turn to compassion and understanding.” Erma Bombeck.
I was a much better mother before I was actually, a mother. I knew just what to do about those crying babies in airplanes. Furthermore, I was raised to believe that children should not eat with adults. They should eat separately so the adults can enjoy a nice, uninterrupted meal.
I thought I had the answers, but I was wrong. This is the greatest lesson I’ve had about being a parent: It is not about you. It’s about them.
“Motherhood,” Erma Bombeck said, “Twenty years without a hot meal," because like me, she spent a lot of time eating with kids.
Once my children were born I became a much better human being, if not yet a “good parent.” I realized that I knew next to nothing. If I was going to learn about parenting, it wasn’t going to be from books, or psychologists. I was going to learn from my children.
I was their mommy, but I also became their advocate. I ate with them because I was interested in what they had to say. I supported their dreams, even if they interrupted mine. I drove them to every freaking thing they set their sights on, and then some. There were times when we had four sports in our house for two boys: soccer, basketball, baseball and a brief stint with touch football. That is 16 weekly practices and eight games a weekend, if you need help with the math.
We even bought them a piano, which gathers more dust these days than the treadmill.
My husband is a wonderful father even though he travels most of the week. Sometimes he has to parent by text. “TAKE OUT THE TRASH” comes in all caps on Wednesday nights. This is the modern world.
When they were little and bad things happened, I often did my parenting with a warm cookie. A skinned knee? Have a cookie. A broken heart? Have a cookie. You get the picture. I remember my own heartbreaks and my grandmother saying, “Well, this deserves cake.”
My children are now teenagers and I am baking cookies as fast as I can. The teenage years will break your heart into a million pieces.
My heart was broken, again, with the news of a shooting yesterday at the high school right next to ours.
Let me tell you about Arapahoe High School. It is a fantastic school. A cousin went there and graduated with honors. We considered enrolling the boys because it does some things better than our school.
“I just couldn’t believe this could happen in our school,” one child said yesterday.
We moved here because our public schools such as Arapahoe are filled with teachers who care and kids who come from involved families. Parents are generous with their time and money.
There are many excellent reasons for a private school education too, and I am not passing any judgment. It is really about what is best for your child. There are days I muse about what might have been had we not left a private school for a public school experience. In public schools, there is diversity, disability and children who have far more and less than your own. Kids learn a whole lot more about the world than reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.
Yesterday as I was watching the news unfold, this is the overwhelming impression I had: My God our young people are great.
I was listening to one teenager after the next being interviewed and I was struck by their intelligence, their compassion, their grit and their dignity.
“At first, I thought it was a joke,” said one boy. “But when I realized it was serious, I got everyone into the closet.”
Another young man said, “I didn’t cry, but lots of other kids did, so we held each other.”
“I could not reach my brother,” said one boy. “I started to panic.” It turned out, he had stayed home.
As the shooter entered the school and asked for his target by name, it was the kids who ran to alert the teacher. “Get out, get out,” they shouted.
Now a young girl is fighting for her life after being shot. Her family is asking for prayers. They have mine.
Of the teenagers who spoke to the media, one after the next talked about how they were concerned for others, even before themselves.
The shooter was also, by most accounts, a good kid. He was bright, intelligent, involved in sports and debate. He may have been picked on, but he also was described as having friends. He came from a caring and involved family. He participated in Bible study. He could have been anyone’s child. We do not know why this happened.
This is yet another tragedy beyond comprehension. There is a mother whose son is dead. There is another whose child is fighting for her life.
I am a mother too. I thought I had the answers, but I was wrong. I do not know what should have been done by any of us but love, love and love our kids some more. Eat dinner with them. Support their activities. Make them cookies. Be their advocate. Listen to what they have to say.
I am filled to the brim with compassion, and with admiration for those who stepped up and became more than they thought they could be yesterday. Our young people are really, just amazing people.
Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra and Origin Magazines. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co.