Fears and hopes

My second grader’s teacher sent an email the other day about “ALICE” lock down procedures. Further down in the email, there’s a notice that they will have these drills 5 times a year. (5!!!). I Googled “Alice lock down” and learned I shouldn’t have. It’s freaky the kinds of training our teachers (to be frank, I’m guessing it’s ministers and other public buildings) need to have these days.

It hurts at the deepest level that I have consistent reminders that I can’t keep my girls safe. I have to hope and pray that if something should happen, my kid’s teacher can figure out how to keep them safe.

This, I suppose, is what Elizabeth Stone meant when she said having kids is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body’. I trust her teacher with my daughter’s life. However, there are 18 other sets of parents also trusting in that, and if something happens, she just might not be able to save them all.

Most of the time, I want my kids to go and explore this bright blue world. I want them to see and experience and enjoy this life and planet. And get to breathe in all of it’s glories. But then I get an innocent email or see a story on the news or talk to someone who has gone through hell and I’m reminded I cannot send them into this world trusting that no one will harm them. I have to trust but protect and educate and shelter and pray and hope and keep my fears to myself.

The oldest was accepted to college out west. *WAHOO* And now she’s going to go so many many miles away. I think it’s fantastic actually, in nearly every way possible. I hope so very much that she gets to spread her wings and fly and find friends that boost her, and friends that challenge her. And classes and clubs that drive her and grow her. I hope she finds her heart’s desire ( and I don’t mean a man), and expands her knowledge and all those things that going to college should do. And I hope and pray that danger not find her, that she not need to call me or text me and say “I’m okay. Don’t worry about the news. It was on a different part of campus” or so much worse, someone else contact us because she couldn’t.

The thing is, I don’t want my girls to live from a place of fear. I want them to live in a place of hope. I want them to peripherally understand that people can be bad, but not that people are bad. Living in a place of fear stops growth and fun. It prohibits flying. So, I guess I have to limit my fear, trust that we can handle what comes at us, and pray that they never need the training they are getting.

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Titles aren’t us

I’m a mom and step-mom. A wife. A lover. A daughter and daughter-in-law, a sister and sister-in-law. A friend. A best friend. An aunt and cousin and niece. A Senior Business Systems Analyst. A geek, a dork. A democrat. A moderate. A Catholic. A runner? An Athlete? A college grad. A grad school graduate. A blogger? A Minnesotan. A reader. An American (as in USA – American). A dog lover. A Disney-fan. A snob? (well, that’s not a question, that’s real). A recycler. A world traveler (once upon a time). A breadwinner. (choice of family, not by circumstances). A jerk. An evader. A poetry-hater. A mess. A Ms. A Twins fan. A Cardinals fan. A US soccer fan. A slob. A tomboy. A Caucasian.

We so often label the world around us, and eventually we label ourselves. Sometimes we like the label, because hello, when my girls shout “mommy” and mean me, or when Mike says “wife” and means me, that’s awesome. But when someone slanders another piece of me (dork, slob), it’s hard to step up to that. I don’t mean to suggest I’m perfect. I have plenty of people who love to help me improve in my life, or just point out my shortcomings. It’s just that I think we accept titles because it’s a way of defining ourselves. But, I don’t know if the paragraph above is me.

I just wish we could stop trying to pigeonhole people, and this starts with ourselves. Yes, some of these are roles that I fit. But I AM more than that individual role. Clearly. We are all. And every time I hear “just a”, it hurts at the heart level. We are so beautiful in some way or another to someone. All the titles in the world don’t (can’t, won’t) describe the uniqueness that is you. I don’t care if you are a partner in a law firm, a president of a college, a pastor of a church, a custodian, a high schooler, a drop-out, you are awesome. You are you. And guess what. You are so amazing to someone.

I want to be a runner. Does it matter than I am slower than molasses? If I run (jog, whatever), does it matter? Can I still be a runner if I look nothing like a marathoner? I don’t make it to church often, but many of my beliefs are founded… But I don’t believe in everything espoused by the Church right now… Who gets to decide what I am? Me? You? Some random person on the street? Does it matter what you or the random person think? Should it?

Many years ago, we lost one of my cousins. And I can remember thinking he’s going to heaven. He has to be. He’s left behind love. People who he loved and who loved him. People came from around the country to celebrate his life and pull together. How much better is that description of him, than say, college student, son, cousin, brother? All of those are a piece of him, but none of that is the whole. The whole of him was his heart and the intangible pieces he left behind.

We have a choice. We can choose to be loving and kind. Supportive and thoughtful. Or we can choose to be angry and horrible. Tortured and unloving. No title really can do justice to the legacy we (hope to) leave behind. So, more than anything, I wish we could work on our insides, and remember that no matter what title(s) we have (hidden, or not), they are not the sum of us. We are more than words.