Archive | December 2012

2012: The Year To Forgive

I’m better at reflecting backward than projecting forward. And while I have intentions for the new year (buy enough tampons each month, learn to cook tofu, wear a real bra once a month), I’d rather reflect on what happened this year.

Turns out, 2012 was the year for forgiveness even though that wasn’t my stated intention a year ago. But I started a new running route along Milwaukee Avenue and started noticing the graffiti. I kept seeing the word “forgive” scribbled in unexpected places. I’ve found it scribbled over 3 dozen different surfaces around Chicago.

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New gang symbol?  Maybe. But every time I found it, I took a picture and then took the seven letters as a personal challenge.

What could I forgive?

Here’s some of the forgivenesses I worked on through the year:

I forgive myself for snapping at the kids and for the bigger stuff too– not being grateful for them exactly as they are and not loving them as unconditionally as they deserve.

I forgive my kids for having little wills of their own and shattering my fantasies that I could dress them how I wanted for as long as I wanted.

I forgive my therapist for his extensive vacations and for having a life and other patients besides me; I forgive him for letting me grow up and away from him.

I forgive the world for scaring the hell out of me; for making it hard to trust and let go.  Ditto for Nature, who can be a really scary prick sometimes.

I forgive my breasts for being almost 40 years old and refusing to defy gravity.

I forgive my stomach for pooching out and being soft and flabby.

I forgive myself for being the kind of person who has to forgive her own damn body parts.

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I forgive myself for coming so late to blogging/writing, especially now that everything I’d ever want to say has been said.

And those people who haven’t liked my Facebook page– I forgive them too.

I forgive my friends for starting their own blogs which forced me to look inside my tiny petty heart and ask tough questions about my character, not like the answers I found therein, and then work to become a better person.  I forgive the people I love for having talent that surpasses mine and passion I cannot match.  I forgive my friends who got “there” before me and I forgive those that make me lead the way.

I forgive everyone who has thinner legs than I do, and everyone who can eat whatever she wants and still be a size 4, and people who just don’t care about the things that make up my personal demons.

I forgive the schools that declined to admit my children, and those that declined to admit me decades ago.

I forgive my parents the outrageous sin of being human. I forgive them for not being more uniquely screwed up (because that would make my future memoir infinitely easier to write).

I forgive my husband for being better than I at so many things except for gift giving, and I forgive him for being only average at that.

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I forgive myself for being shallow and materialistic and unable to sustain a meditation practice or a budget.

I forgive whoever in my family tree is responsible for alcoholism and all its ravages. I forgive the deprivation, the repression, and the poverty (physical, emotional and spiritual).

I forgive the tiny slights I still carry with me.

I forgive the assholes who cut me off when I cross the street and whoever taught my kid about shooting.

I forgive the NRA and politicians and the right-wing and haters on all sides.

I forgive Eva Mendes for dating Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone for dating Andrew Garfield.

I forgive Trader Joe’s for not making tomato basil soup in the summer, and I forgive the frozen yogurt store by my house for closing this winter.

I forgive Patraeus, and Armstrong, and Woods, and Herman Cain.

Sometimes I can forgive myself the unspeakable– for  my dark thoughts and my survivor’s guilt and my self-absorption and my lusty greed for accomplishment.  Sometimes I can forgive others for that too.

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I run, I read the 7 letters, and I forgive. And as I do, I grow lighter and freer for a while. Just as I start to harden again, I see another scribble and forgive all over again.  I am grateful for the gritty urban reminders to open my heart, to let go, and to let new life in.  I’m grateful to forgive.

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Why The Stomach Flu Beats The Hell Outta Disney

If you find yourself in SoCal (that’s Southern California to you in the heartland), you will have a dizzying array of choices about how to spend your free time. And if you’re with your family– say, small children under 5– I’m about to save you thousands of dollars with this travel tip.

Get a pen and write this down.

First, cross Disney off your family bucket list. Too expensive, too commercial, too crowded. Plus, do you want your kids coming home with more over-priced crap after you just did a toy purge? NOYOUDONOT!

Next, cross “introduce kids to the ocean” off your bucket list. Listen, they’re going to find the oceans or other bodies of water soon enough. Why do you have to put yourself at the center of all their experiences?  Let ‘em find the ocean on a globe at home. Stick it in the sandbox if you are a stickler for authenticity. Skip this because there’s all that dangerous sunshine dying to incancerate (made it up– write that down too) your lovies. Plus, what’s not on your bucket list, but will be part of this life experience, is schlepping towels, water, snacks, change of clothes, a stroller, sun hats, sunscreen, baby dolls, and Spiderman shovels down to the sand, which you will unpack and your kids will play with for 7.5 minutes until they decide that the texture of sand is entirely unsuitable for their delicate Midwestern feet.

Do yourself a favor: skip it.

See those 2 blank spots on your bucket list?  Write: Stomach Flu, the SoCal edition.

Hear me out.

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Numero Uno: You will save hundreds of dollars because there are no food costs. All you have to do is stock up on Gatorade and Ginger Ale. No annoying expenditures on dinner, snacks, food you have to chew.

Also?  No annoying arguing among family members about where to go or how to spend time. All you need is an equitable schedule for everyone to use the bathroom to take care of their business and Boom! You’ve got peace and harmony.

And think of how much you pay for a hotel room that typically you spend no time in. What a colossal waste!  But there is no waste if you are all laid up puking in it for a few days. Get your money’s worth!  Also, they have those convenient housekeeping services to hose your room down daily. If you think about it, a hotel is the best place ever for your family to get a stomach bug.

When everyone’s sick and blowing chunks on everyone else, that results in true bonding. Disney can’t give you that– all they can sell you is cheap imitations of intimacy.  Real intimacy is when your son spews his dinner from 22 hours before all over your favorite Citizens of Humanity jeans and then he has the nerve to go in for a kiss right after that.  Does Disney offer opportunities to set boundaries like “I won’t kiss you when your vomit is hanging out of your nose?”

Finally, once you recuperate and can get back on your feet, you can shop for jeans in a size smaller because you lost all that water (and fat and muscle).

This is such a killer idea, I’m sending it to Suze Orman so she can include it in her next Oprah Magazine column. But I wanted to share with my loyal readers first because I’m a giver.

So kick that Princess-teacup-castle cess pool to the curb– and avail yourself of the charms of the stomach flu while on vacation in sunny California!

No Longer Invincible (As if I ever was)

I am laying on a hotel bed in the dark as my stomach pulses threatening to heave again.  I close my eyes and breathe slowly, hoping the retching is over.

Jeff has just left with the kids to see his mother, and while my body desperately needs sleep and down time, I am suddenly too anxious to sleep.  I am worried about being separated from my family right now– we are so far from home, and everything about LA seems strange: the sunshine is unrelenting and the ubiquitous palm trees look so alien to me.  I love seeing the mountains when we walk out of our hotel room, but now that I am left behind, I worry about Jeff swerving off the road or someone hitting the car filled with my precious people.

I should have gone with them.

My world

My world

I wonder if this is PTSD– this fear, morbid and dark, that stalks me when I leave my city limits.  I make a note to ask my therapist and hope that when I do, he gives me an answer: Yes or No.  I once went on a vacation with five people and only four came home, so I am wary, I am shaking, and I want my three to all come back tonight so we can do our modified hotel bedtime routine.

I am pissed that I am no longer invincible. And I will never ever feel that way again.  Terror has made that impossible, which may be a good thing overall, since I was never really invincible anyway.  Those three people out on the road in our rented Hyundai have made me more vulnerable than ever.  Invincibility is laughable.  I worry now about everything: Sadie when she walks a curb like a tightrope, arms outstretched and body wobbling; Simon when he tries to keep up with his big sister who can and will somersault off any surface she can reach.  When I slide into a seat on the train back home, I wonder if the “disaffected youth” I am sitting next to has something to kill me with under his baggy hoodie.

Is it normal to be this scared?

In the dark tonight, I remember what it felt like to do stupid, life-threatening things because I was young and unattached. I thought I was invincible.  I flash to the night of a Jimmy Buffet concert at Starplex amphitheatre in Dallas–I should not have been driving on I-75 that night because I had been drinking.  I thought it was fine– and maybe it was.  It worked out OK, other than taking other people’s lives in my hands at age 19, and the small matter of how awful Jimmy Buffet is.  So stupid.

I know that worrying won’t keep anyone safe, but still it feels like a talisman I have to grasp with both hands until my three walk back through the door with breathless tales of all their fun adventures at Grandma’s house.  In the dark I think that becoming a mother was both the bravest and scariest thing I have ever done, even though I had no idea until it was too late.

So, I pray the prayer that I saw in an Anne Lamott book years ago: Please let my children outlive me.  Please.

Why I Bought Myself A Gift And Opened It In Front Of My Children

It would have been so easy to skip myself. Seriously. The last thing I wanted to do on the sixth night of Hanukkah was wrap another gift. Enough already.

I had my kids’ gifts ready to go that night– Hello Kitty for her and Spiderman for him. (Remember when we weren’t going to buy licensed crap for our kids?  That was before we had them. The kids, not the licensed flatware.)

Jeff was out of town, and he’s the Jewish parent but he left a phonetic version of the prayer right by the Menorah so I did my best.

“Baruch attah adonai. . . “

On the first night, we didn’t do gifts. I wanted to focus on being together, lighting the candles, and learning the prayer. It was beautiful but then several Jewish people I talked to said, “No presents?” and I felt shame.  So, I vowed the remaining nights would include presents.

On the third night, before he left on a business trip, Jeff opened a new fleece and the kids reveled in trinkets from the special section in Target where everything’s a dollar.

“Mama, where’s your present?” Sadie asked.

I didn’t know what to say. Nothing sounded right.  Not “Mommy doesn’t need a present” or “Focus on yourself and don’t worry about me” or “I buy my own presents that come in the mail from Zappos and Amazon.”

And those statements are true-ish. Believe me, this mama isn’t afraid to treat herself. And Jeff and I hadn’t yet taken the time to discuss how we would do presents for our hybrid Hanukkah-Christmas celebrations, so the gifts he’d planned for me were still in the works.

But my kids noticed that everyone had received a present. Except me.

And I started to believe that it was important for my kids to see me open a present. I didn’t want either of them– a future wife and a future husband– to see me only giving. I didn’t want them to see me not getting the opportunity to sit down, unwrap something that makes me happy, and to feel glee and gratitude. Just like they were each night.

But it was more than that.  I don’t want to burden them or Jeff with the spectre of the martyr-mom who gives gives gives but sighs resentfully at the table wishing someone– anyone– would read her damn mind . . . . and then buy her a nice leather wallet in a bright color so it’s easy to find at the bottom of her purse.

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And there’s more.  I don’t want to be a person who can’t teach her children how to take in gifts, and I definitely do not want to subliminally teach my kids that deprivation is a virtue.  Or that the best moms are martyrs who just go without. Don’t worry about me, kids, I’ll be fine.

What I want is to join them at the table, at the feast before my eyes, and take a portion for myself.

Because there’s nothing wrong with taking a turn.

But really.  It would have been so easy to skip myself and open the wallet privately.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

Looking For Snapfish? Check Under The Bus

Ah, the together time at the holidays…when everyone is together all day long, trying to figure out what the hell to do until the next meal.  It’s so fun.  It doesn’t make me anxious at all; in fact, I am sad it doesn’t come around more often.

Ahem.

And this holiday season, I am more addled that normal.  I keep losing things and forgetting to do things, and I tell people the same stories over and over.  The great part about me, though, is that all these mental lapses make me embarrassed so I lash out in anger and defensiveness.  It’s part of my charm.

To add to the spirit of this bittersweet 2012 year end, I have taken to throwing decent American companies under the bus.

Like Snapfish (the on-line photo company that makes holiday cards).

MISSING: Over two dozen Christmas cards

MISSING: Over two dozen Christmas cards

We made our holiday card, and I was doing a good job keeping track of the ones I had sent (Jeff’s mom: check, my sister: check), but then at some point last week, I lost a stack of them.  Roughly half.  We still had some important people to send to: Jeff’s business partner, my therapist.  I maybe sort of remembered sticking them somewhere but could not for the life of me remember where. I looked in all my bags, all my junk stashes, and the top of  my dresser, which belongs on the set of Sanford & Son.

So, I told Jeff the truth.

Me: Jeff, I think Snapfish made a mistake. They were supposed to send 75 cards, but they only sent 50.  They are a good company, but they goofed.

Jeff: Really? I will check the order and give them a call.

One hour later, Jeff returns saying he talked to all different levels of people at Snapfish– they were all very nice, he reported– they agreed to send replacements, but they won’t arrive until the end of the month.  Apparently, they are “busy”.  Jeff was optimistic: “They will send replacements by December 31.”

Satisfied that justice was served, I went on about my business, which was looking for my hidden chocolate stash extra-strength pain reliever to take for my headache that comes every time to have too much intimacy with my family.

Oops.

Guess what I found on medicine shelf?

25 blank Christmas cards ready for sending out.  Who puts blank Christmas cards next to Benedryl and Tylenol?

My bad.  Sorry, Snapfish.

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This post was not sponsored by Snapfish or any of its competitors.  At the rate I am going, I will end up getting paid to SHUT UP about companies.

This entry was posted on December 24, 2012. 17 Comments

How (Not) To Talk To Your Kid About Wetting Her Pants

It was bound to happen sooner or later, right? My kid was going to need that change of clothes stuffed in her school cubby because of a failure to reach the potty in time.

When I saw Sadie standing with her teacher at the end of the day, I instantly noticed that she was wearing her brown leggings instead of the red ones I dropped her off in.  I noticed because I am an excellent mother. (And the brown pants clashed so badly with her outfit that my eyes started to water.)

Since she was carrying a plastic bag in her hand, I just knew she was carrying her red leggings, now a soiled symbol of her shame.

Imma fix this.

“Sadie, did you change your clothes at school?”  (I start out neutrally and give her room to control the narrative.)

“Yes.”

“What happened?” (Stick with the open-ended questions.  Three-year olds love those and really take the opportunity to open the dialogue.)

“I had an accident.”

BOOM! I’m in.

“Sweetie, were you upset?  You know, it’s perfectly ok to have an accident now and then. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Were you engrossed in your projects?” (Now, I have laid the foundation for a shame-free discussion of why her pants are wadded up in an old Target bag.)

“I just had an accident during snack time.” (The information– it just flows out of her.)

“Oh! Of course! Snack time is at the end of the day, so you must have been busy enjoying all the socializing and pre-literacy activities, right?”

“I was eating Graham crackers,” she said.

Pee your pants?  Tell me about it.

Pee your pants? Join the club (of 1).

Maybe it’s time for a story, so she knows I can identify with exactly what she’s feeling.

“Sadie, I love Graham crackers; they are super delicious! They make me incontinent too. Once, when I was working late at my firm– you know Mommy used to be a lawyer right? I didn’t always just do this, but don’t get me wrong, I love this; THIS IS THE GREATEST– anyway, I was doing a document review, and I was starving because I missed the dinner order from P.F. Chang’s because I was down in the partner’s office.  It was 2:00 AM, and I had a package of Graham Crackers on my top shelf, but when I went to reach for it, the chair wobbled and I fell.  Right then the first-year associate was walking by and he saw me and started laughing hysterically — that’s a fancy word for “acting like a douche bag”– and despite myself and even though I hated his Ivy League guts– I started laughing too. Well, I laughed so hard, I peed in my pants. Just a little.  Not like a lot of pee, but you know, a dribble.  And this was before I had kids and knew anything about kegels, which I still don’t do, so I still dribble all the dang time, so see?  See, Sweetie, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

God, I should write a parenting book. I can feel the shame being sucked out of us both and evaporating into the air.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Sadie?”

“Can I have more applesauce?”

“Sweetie, I only brought one, so you have to wait until we get home? And, um, how are you feeling about your accident?”

“Fine. I just spilled water on my red pants when I reached for a napkin. My teacher helped me change.”

Right.  I knew that.

Maybe I’ll book that book idea on hold.

Cookies, Cajuns and Cause for Celebration

There’s a lot going on today, which is fantastic because I have no childcare and my little one won’t nap.  Also, there’s a hole in the pocket of my winter coat, so I keep “losing” my phone and my keys because they fall through the hole and get stuck in the lining.  But, ask me if I care? I don’t, because I have cause for celebration.

Cause for Celebration: Ya’ll, I am so excited I am about to ink a deal with a design firm to redo our house.

OHMYGOD, I am totally kidding. I don’t even know why I made that joke, except that it would seriously be the end of the world if there was a design company that wanted to partner with me.  My idea of design is to buy curtains at IKEA, leave them in the car for four months and every so often gripe at my husband for not hanging the curtain. I call it “Designing For Spouses.”

Seriously, though, I know I wrote this post mentioning (to the ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD) that my internist found a lump in my breast.  Yesterday, I had an extensive visit with the breast clinic here in Chicago and am pleased to report a completely clean bill of health.  Actually, they couldn’t find the lump at all, which is a good thing. I am very grateful.

Cajuns: I have Cajun forebears and one of them passed on a recipe that is the greatest cookie recipe ever because (1) it’s only three ingredients and (2) it tastes like heaven on a plate (or straight out of the pan if I was honest).

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For the cookie recipe from my Grandmother Lucille, please see this guest post over at Whisks and Words, the faboosh site run by Dana Staves, who can cook up a storm and write like an angel. Incidentally, Dana was the very first person to ever ask me advice about blogging.  In spite of her questionable judgment on who to ask for advice, her site is flourishing.  She’s got big changes coming in her life, so I can’t wait to see it chronicled in her blog.

This is the only recipe I know so this will be the last time we do this.  Enjoy!

Time To Get A New Coping Strategy

It’s hard to walk in my front door because packages are strewn all over our entryway (which, incidentally, is a nice justification for a mudroom).  Anyway, half of the packages are holiday-related gifts from our family out of town.

The other half?

Welcome to my not-successful coping strategy:

Because brownies are too fattening and porn is too embarassing.

Because brownies are too fattening and porn is too embarrassing.

It started Friday night, when everyone was asleep, and I was terrified that I would get sucked into the news.  I never turned on the TV, but horrible news and images were just a click away as I worked on-line.

I said to myself, “you can look at anything in the world on-line right now– baby chimps, gay porn, Cher music videos– but stay away from the news.” (I imposed this because I have a tendency toward the morbid and have a long history of ingesting tragedy to the point that I make myself sick.)

Do you think I sought out cute animals sneezing or nuzzling their furry mamas?

Do you think I checked out porn that would make even the depraved Twittersphere blush?

No and No.

I got myself busy and distracted on Zappos (which is a kind of porn, amiright?).

People, I don’t need anything, much less another damn pair of shoes. I’ll have you know that I bought a perfectly good (rubber) pair of cowboy boots and faux suede booties at Target just last month.  I probably didn’t need either of those, but their combined price was less than $40.00 and hey, I was worth it.

So, explain to me why I just ordered a pair of Frye boots from Zappos?  WTF.  I don’t actually believe in spending over $210.00 for boots– not saying it’s wrong, just saying I never have and don’t think it’s necessary for me.

For those of you who don’t live in Colorado or know what Frye boots are, they are boots that start at about $300 and go up from there.  They are seductive in that they come in a dozen shades of distressed, Indiana Jones-looking leather and they are a shoe that should be worn by a total bad ass.

Which is precisely why I will be returning them without opening them. I don’t even want to see my clumsy ass legs stuck into them.  It was an impulse purchase of the highest order.  I bought them to make it all seem less scary.  “Hey, if I get these boots nothing bad could be happening anywhere because, did you see my new boots?”  The logic makes as much sense as eating Little Debbie brownies right before a Weight Watchers weigh-in, and frankly, I’ve done that too.

The boots won’t make me safer or even cooler. (There’s something infinitely more hip about wearing rubber boots from the Target clearance aisle.)  It was a strategy to get through a scary, lonely night.  I guess it worked– I made it through the night without reading a single headline.  But now I have to schlep that giant box to the post office, which is a huge pain in the ass.

And the world is the same place it was Friday night.

What have you tried? Is it working?

 

I’ve Always Had Angels Looking Out For Me

In Kindergarten, I was out of class for six straight school days because of the chicken pox.  When I finally returned to class with my Big Bird velour turtle neck and my suddenly too-loose Garanimal pants, Ms. Hunter—mean and matronly old Ms. Hunter—gave me a huge hug that lifted me off the ground.  She missed me, and I felt it.

In first grade, I was heartbroken when Sister Lynn Michelle was transferred to another parish in a far away land called Michigan.  She wrote me letters from there in her perfect handwriting and sealed the envelope with stickers of Jesus sitting with little children.  She treasured me, her little pen pal.  I knew it even then.

In fifth grade, Mrs. Price found out that the girls in my class snubbed me in the lunchroom.  She told my parents about it and continued to look out for me the rest of the year.  She insisted on giving me a B in penmanship, but she loved me.  And I knew it.

Freshman year, Mrs. Medina read my essay about an accident in Hawaii where my friend’s father drowned.  She kept me after class to ask me how I was doing.  “I didn’t know you were there,” she said, apologizing for not talking to me sooner.  She was worried about me. I saw it in her eyes.

Junior year, Kelly Ray-Grady, the campus minister, was the attentive audience to what I thought was a near-nervous breakdown.  I told her about my secret throwing up, and she offered to get me counseling.  She made some calls on my behalf, and she sought me out at junior retreat. “How are you doing?” she asked with compassion.  I knew she cared; I knew she could see me.

Senior year, Mr. Bridwell balked when I told him I was headed to a giant state university where the English department was third-rate.  “I know people at SMU,” he said, concerned that something inside me would fail to blossom in College Station. He wanted me to have more; he was willing to call in favors.  I heard his love in his offer.

When I got my Master’s degree, I was paralyzed with fear and crippled by a sense of inadequacy.  I was out of my element and half out of my mind.  Deborah Nelsen, my thesis advisor, told me to keep reading and keep writing.  “Keep the focus on yourself and your passion,” she counseled.  I knew she wanted me to succeed.  Instead of dropping out of graduate school and slinking back to Texas, I kept at it.  I saw her at graduation, smiling broadly at me.  I could feel her warm wishes for me.

These were my teachers, my helpers, and my mentors. Their hands on my back guided me forward when it seemed impossible or when I didn’t even know I needed guidance or when I was just a little girl, pox-scarred and happy to see that my teacher remembered me even after missing a week and a day of school.

None of these teachers saved my life in an emergency, but each helped me understand that I had a life worth living, talents worth sharing, and losses worth grieving.  I can still feel their supportive hands on my back, and I feel their spirits cheering me on still today.

For each of them, I say a prayer of gratitude tonight.

What I Would Give To Be Preoccupied By A Stupid Elf & Sample Letter To Congress For Stricter Gun Laws

Friday, December 14, 2012

9:48 PM

When the whole house is asleep, that’s when I will cry.  They all have to be asleep, because once I start, I won’t be able to stop.  And it’s a cry I want to do alone.

I don’t want my family to see how broken my faith is and how scared I am.  I don’t want them to think that I am making something that happened half way across the country all about me.  I actually have no idea what I am doing, except grieving along with the country and the world over how broken it all is.

I almost can’t bear the fear in my chest right now.  Maybe that’s the weight of the cry I keep putting off– first a snack, then a load of laundry, then a blog post.  I’ve been carrying around this cry since I heard the awful news.  I saw the headline on my home screen, but it didn’t seem real. I was moving so fast trying to finish up my grading for the semester, so I thought, “I misread that.”  But when the grading was over and I packed up my computer, Twitter and Facebook and strangers’ conversations confirmed the worst.

The absolute fucking worst thing I have ever heard.

Now, I’d give anything to be writing a post about a stupid Elf or how I screwed up Hanukkah.  I’d give my last wish for my biggest source of turmoil to be too much holiday frenzy or too much pudding.

Man, there’s not enough pudding in the world to make me feel better tonight.  I am tempted, this former bulimic, to see if food will fix this awful feeling in my cells.  The feeling that forms the words, “We are not safe.”  But, I’m holding off on the pudding for now. It won’t fix anything; it’s not a refuge from the pain.

Most nights I go to bed with a prayer on my lips of gratitude for my healthy family, and there’s almost always a PS that requests that they sleep through the night and not try to come into my bed and thrash around all night long.

Tonight, I am praying they do.  I want them close beside me.  They can’t possibly be close enough.

* * *

Saturday, December 15, 2012

8:25 PM

Improbably, they are all asleep again.

I need something to do with  my hands, besides wringing them in horror and grief.  Sadie asked me today, “Why do you keep kissing me so much?” I didn’t tell her why, and even though I have not turned on my TV or listened to the radio, I heard enough to have horrible images burned in my mind.

Don’t we all.

I have seen articles telling us to write letters to our elected officials asking for stricter gun control laws.  Ok.  That’s something.  I’ll start there.

I have drafted a sample that you are welcome to copy and use.  If you know of other ways we can make our country safer or be of assistance/support to those who are suffering unthinkable losses, please tell me.  Please.

Sample Letter (click here to find your Senator’s address) (FN1):

December 15, 2012

Senator Richard J. Durbin

711 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington D.C., 20510

Dear Senator Durbin,

Thank you for your willingness to serve the public.  As a voter and taxpayer in your district, I respectfully request that you support any and all gun control legislation, including and especially an assault weapon ban.  I implore you to also introduce legislation that would make it harder for guns to reach the hands of persons who are mentally unstable and who wish to take human lives.

As you are likely aware, research (such as economist Richard Florida’s work) indicates that   States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths.  Since research confirms that firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation, I am imploring you, my elected official, to put tighter gun control laws at the top of your agenda.

While the path to both fixing and healing our country must proceed on multiple fronts, and the tragedies that keep occurring are complex, stricter gun control laws are a sine qua non of the solution.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.  I look forward to seeing progress from Congress that would make our country safer for all of us, especially our children.

Sincerely,

C. O. Tate

FN 1: I plan to write to both of my federal senators as well as my state officials.  Also, former President Bill Clinton suggested that a referendum on the issue would be the most effective way to have stricter gun control laws on the books. I am looking into that and will report back.

* * *

Sunday, December 16, 2012

9:26 PM

The kids are asleep and Jeff’s in the shower. I have checked on my sleeping beauties twice so far.  It won’t be long before Sadie crawls in bed with us for the night and Simon calls out to us.  We will go to him.

I have avoided the TV and the news for the most part.  CNN was on the TV at the gym– I peeked more than once. When I saw a demonstration of the difference between a Glock and those other guns, I said to myself, “No more. Stop looking.” I meant it so I didn’t look up again.

I am mailing my letters tomorrow.  It’s feeble, but it’s something.  And something is better than nothing.  I think this change will come from the Mamas.  We mothers who will have to face dropping our children off at school tomorrow– and the rest of their days– we will be the ones who will foment change and demand of our officials that gun laws be strengthened.

Or at least it will be me.  And I’m a mother.

* * *

In closing, I am posting links to articles that have brought me great solace this weekend– these bloggers are thinking and praying and asking and suggesting.  They are part of my solution, the world’s solution.  I share them with you.

For great reminders that are hard to think about, see Naptime Writing.

For thoughts on the gendered nature of the violence and how each of us contributes to a culture of violence, check out Moments of Exhilaration.

For insights from a thoughtful and loving father, see TheJackB.

For more political insights, see Maybe I Should Blog.