Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Moms Do

In late June of 2010, the K had a conference in Boston and we all went with him. "Great," I thought, "Boston is awesome! It's historic. It has an aquarium and museums, there will be tons to do. What a great family trip!" I was about 4/5th correct. What I didn't count on was that the K would actually attend the conference and I would be on my own, playing tour guide to the children (at that point they were age six, four, and one) in a city I'd been to exactly once time and that was when I was 8 years old.

I came up with an ambitious agenda for our trip including riding the swan boats at the Public Garden, visiting the New England Aquarium, going to the Boston Children's Museum, and taking a Boston Duck Tour. And I was going to do all these things with my entourage of small children and despite my miserable sense of direction. Because that's what moms do. You forget about the hassle and the difficulty and you just do it because you want your children to experience something and you don't want them to think that new experiences aren't worth a little effort. I'm sure that this was similar to what Denise Richard thought when she took her children to see the Boston Marathon. You prepare as well as you can: packing snacks, water bottles, extra diapers, hand wipes, and sweatshirts in your mommy bag, trying to think of anything your children might need on your outing. What you don't count on is a terrorist attack destroying your family.

I'm an anxious person. Given my druthers, I would never leave my little town. I hate driving on the highway and I hate being in an unfamiliar area. When we went to the Aquarium on our first day in Boston, I must have checked the subway map ten times. I wrote out the directions from the subway stop to the Aquarium, even though you basically can't miss the Aquarium without ending up in the Bay. I was nervous that the Boy would dart off in the train station and I'd never see him again. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fit the stroller into a crowded subway car and I'd incur the wrath of impatient commuters. Most of all I was afraid that the children would sense my anxiety and it would ruin the visit for them. Because that's something else that moms do. You swallow down that lump of doubt and because you want your children to see ten different species of penguin.

My anxiety is always higher when we're on our way to something. I worry about the logistics of getting our family to our destination. Once we've arrived and are involved in our activity, I sigh with relief. We're safe. We're here. We made it. But it seems like the worst things happen when you're in that place of false security. The kids were playing skee ball when the Girl nearly severed her finger. We were at a playground when the Boy wandered off and was lost in the woods. The Richard family was at the Boston Marathon when bombs exploded around them.

As a parent, I plan and I stress and I worry about all the little things. I have enough little bottles of hand sanitizer to last until the Baby goes to college. I have four granola bars in my purse at all times to ward off low blood sugar. I want to control all these things because I don't want to think about the chaos that is life. I don't want to think about the fact that in a split second, an evil person bent on causing death and horrific injuries can render all my efforts useless and, indeed laughable. But I will still pack snacks and I will still clean hands because I'm a mom. That's another thing moms do. When horrible things happen, you do your best to keep going. You need to show your children that you have to live your life. If you stop doing things out of fear, the bad people have won.  

When we were in Boston we stayed at the Westin Copley Place, which is right near Prudential Plaza and just a block away from Boylston Street. It's now part of the crime scene.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy.

Martin Richard, age 8.

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