My children did not die almost two years ago within the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary and I have thanked the dear Lord for that over and over again. As I watched in horror along with the rest of the world and tried to find the words to explain the pure evil to my kids I made a silent promise. I promised that I would never send Noah or Natalie to school feeling unloved or upset. I make a point to kiss them good-bye, look them in the eye and tell them “I love you” and that I cannot wait to see them after school.
Today my silent promise was put to the test.
Natalie moves at her own pace. She thoroughly enjoys life and always takes the time to stop and smell the roses, or snuggle her dog, or play school, or read a book, or flip her hair in the mirror. We are usually rushing her out the door at the last second and giving her several reminders (through clenched teeth) that we are waiting on her. She always apologizes, sometimes heartfelt, sometimes sarcastically.
I wake her at 7am. She doesn’t leave the house until 8:20am to walk to the bus stop. Most days the hour and twenty minutes is sufficient. Today it was not. Instead of brushing her teeth, combing her hair, packing her snack and getting her socks on, she laid on the floor with her puppy and snuggled him. I was cleaning the kitchen, chatting with Noah and thinking about getting dressed so I was oblivious. I walked into the mudroom to find her lying on the floor. I shook my head and put Jagger in his crate since she did not follow directions. This was met with a dramatic, “Noooooooo”. By this time it was 8:16am and I told Noah to put on his shoes and coat. Mind you, she is still lying on the floor listing all of the reasons that make me a mean mama. I told her to put on her shoes and coat, that she would not have time to brush her teeth (this was not a punishment), comb her hair (this could potentially ruin her day) or pack her snack (this was horrible). She then announced that she needed to go number 2. SERIOUSLY? My patience were toast. I raised my voice……I told her she did not manage her time well (met with a blank stare) and told her to hurry up and go potty.
I plastered Noah’s face with kisses and sent him on his merry way. Sweet boy asked if he should ask Mr. Dan, the bus driver, if he could wait for Natalie. I laughed as I answered “no”. Natalie and I would be riding to school together and no doubt I would be lecturing her the whole way. I was going to make her understand and hold her accountable for her lack of followthrough.
My plan was quickly replaced with a much better plan…..
I took a seat on the mudroom bench and looked at her sitting on the potty. She looked at me and said, “Mama, I’m sorry I didn’t get ready. It’s just that I love Jagger so much and I can’t stop snuggling him. I never want to leave him.”
I am pretty sure that was actually God tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me of my Sandy Hook Promise. Instead of rushing her out the door and filling our ride to school with a lecture about time management, I sat with her while she went potty and told her that I understood. You, see….I feel the same way about her, Noah and Daddy. I always ask for one more hug, one more kiss and 5 more minutes of snuggles. She laughed, I held back the tears. We spent the next 10 minutes on the floor. She in my lap and Jagger in her lap. I told her I loved her and I apologized for losing my cool. She of course kissed my cheek and forgave me instantly.
On the ride to school we chatted about a better plan for our mornings. One that included some snuggle time with Jagger. She was excited to be a part of the plan and might actually be a little sad that she has to wait 6 days to try it. She gave me a huge hug and kiss before jumping out of my car to enter her school. She was going to start her school day with a smile instead of a frown. I took a minute to pray for all of those Sandy Hook families who are still missing their babies and would give anything to have the morning I had with Natalie, the good and bad. I also thanked God for keeping my babies safe and asked him to help me be a more patient mama.
In honor of the lost lives and broken families of Sandy Hook, I promised to never send my kids to school feeling unloved or upset. This is a promise I intend to keep. God Bless.