Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
My words are:
Blue ~ Balloon ~ Bubbles ~ Park ~ Strawberry ~ Miracle
They were submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I’m sitting here, eating a strawberry, trying to figure out what I want to write about and how to fit in these words. I’ll be honest, my inspiration for what I wanted to write about hit me literally in the middle of the night, and the only word I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate was strawberry, so I decided to eat one and tell you about it. I’d even go so far as to say that I bought them with the express purpose of having one to eat, but I’m not that organized.
I usually shy away from hot button topics, not because I’m short on opinions or afraid of confrontation, but because that’s just never what my blog has been about. It’s always been a place to confront my own failings and shortcomings as a wife, mother and woman in a hopefully humorous style, shining a bright light on all my imperfections and inviting you to laugh along at me or with me.
I’ll be the first to admit that in general I probably suck at this parenting thing. My mistakes more numerous than the stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach. Thankfully, my mistakes have never been broadcast on a global scale for everyone to see. I’ve never been tried in the court of public opinion, found lacking, and verbally executed for my failings as a mother or as a wife. I’ve been lucky. I’ve dodged my fair share of bullets.
Which brings me to my point.
The death of the Cincinnati Zoo’s 17 year old rare silverback gorilla, Harambe, left me feeling blue. I watched the videos with the same mix of horror and sadness as everyone else. It was awful, a tragedy, as the loss of any life should be. If you for some reason have no clue what I’m talking about, just google the name “Harambe” or “Cincinnati Zoo” to bring yourself up to speed and then tell me what rock you’ve been living under so I can join you, I’ll bring food. And fun, frothy beverages. The story was appallingly horrific and my heart goes out to the mother, the child, every witness of the tragic event as well as the zoo officials. But what I found equally horrific, was how quickly and easily everyone turned on the mother of the child that fell into that enclosure. Or jumped. Or climbed and fell. Whatever group of adjectives you want to string together to describe what happened that day. Comments on the event ranged from “that mom should be in jail” to “the child should be shot”. I took myself off social media and avoided the television for a few days because I couldn’t even fully process the things I was hearing and reading. The angry vehemence and hatred of the masses, the opinions, the statements, the public outcry so vicious and quick, on both sides of the proverbial fence. The whole incident left me feeling bruised and heartbroken. I just wanted everyone to stop, take a moment. Take a breath. Think.
I was completely blown away by the hatred and condemnation pouring forth from the lips of both parents and non-parents alike. I hate to stick a pin in the “that would NEVER happen to me because I’m the perfect parent/person” balloon, but what happened that day could have happened to ANY of us. It was a freak accident that couldn’t have been predicted or anticipated. It was a tragedy that couldn’t have been foretold. When did it become so easy as parents, or even human beings to turn on one another? Those fingers of judgment pointing, condemning, so quickly, so harshly. When did mom or parental shaming become a sport or national pastime? Is it fear that makes us react so? Because deep down, we know it could just as easily have been one of us?
I don’t know what kind of mother or person she is in her daily life, but my heart goes out to her. We’d all like to wrap our kids in safety bubbles before we send them forth in this big and scary world, because we know that our eyes and hands can’t be everywhere, foreseeing every twist and turn in the crazy and sometimes terrifying journey of parenthood. We’ve all taken our eye off the ball, gotten distracted. I left my infant daughter strapped in her carseat on top of the washing machine at home and didn’t realize it till I got to the grocery story and opened the back door of my car to get her out. The feeling I got when I realized I had forgotten her, I can’t even describe the panic, the paralyzing fear I felt in that moment. I couldn’t get home fast enough, my mind racing to all the horrific possibilities. What if my house caught on fire? What if by some freak accident, her car seat fell off the washing machine and crashed to the floor. What would people have said about me if any of those scenarios had happened. How could she forget her child? She should be shot! Her kid should be taken away! She should be in jail! Worse mother ever! She was fine. I was lucky. It took days for the guilt and fear of those few moments to leave me. Even now, 21 years later, I still feel sick to my stomach thinking of it.
Or the time, our entire family was at the beach. It was crowded. It had been a long day. We gathered everyone up to head home, half of us heading to the car, the other half to the outdoor showers to rinse off the sand and sunscreen sticking to our bodies. So none of us noticed immediately that we had left my youngest daughter behind, she couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old. We dropped everything and ran back, screaming her name. She was standing right there where we left her. Crying. There aren’t words I could put down right now to convey how I felt as a mother in those terrifying moments. What if she had been snatched up? Or wandered into the ocean by herself? What would the headlines say about me? She was fine. It’s a story we still talk about today, some 14 years later. A cautionary tale. Again, I was lucky.
I can’t quantify how many times I’ve taken my eyes off my kids, even for a second, at the park, the store, the mall, or even the zoo. Anywhere. Everywhere. By some miracle, I’ve managed to raise 3 of my 4 kids to adulthood, relatively unscathed. I’m loathe to even put that down in writing, I don’t want to invite trouble. Make no mistake though, it’s not because I’m a better parent. I’ve been lucky, blessed even. Don’t get me wrong, I feel wretched about what happened to Harambe. Could it have been prevented? Maybe. Possibly. Honestly though, that’s true about anything. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback a situation, talk about how you would have done it differently, or better. In some ways, I think it’s healthy and natural to have those kinds of conversations. Learn from our mistakes, move forward. When it comes to situations like this, we certainly don’t want history to repeat itself. But when did it become ok to do so in a way so hateful, nasty and downright violent? When did we all become so collectively “perfect” that we can eagerly and quickly tear down this mother, this family, this child or the zoo. This parenting thing is hard. Imagine if we spent more time building each other up and supporting each other rather than tearing each other down, ripping each other apart or pointing that finger of judgment and condemnation. Take a moment and really think about the mistakes you’ve made that could have gone another way, and imagine those mistakes caught on film and broadcast for the whole world to see. I don’t know about you, but that shuts my mouth in a hurry.
I hate what happened. My heart hurts for everyone involved. EVERYONE.
These are easy words to shine in the face of someone else’s mistakes. Be careful though, one day you might find that spotlight shining down on you. How would you want to be treated? Remembered? Should we be defined only by the mistakes we’ve made? I sincerely hope not, or I’m doomed, and so I would venture to guess, are most of you. If you’ve never screwed up or made a mistake, please contact me, tell me how you do it. I’d love to learn from you, save myself from the inevitable guilt and sorrow of my future failings and shortcomings.
Otherwise, in the words of Cinderella:
“Have courage and be kind.”
Always. Especially to each other. Let us stand up for one another. Be a friend, be a champion. Love one another, that basic golden rule, so easy in theory, so difficult in practice, not in spite of our failures and mistakes, but because of them.
Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: