Unconditional love most valuable thing you can give children

At the end of December, it finally started snowing. So much and so suddenly it reminded me of those fast labors you hear about, where women go from enormously pregnant to cradling a peachy-headed newborn in what seems like the blink of a contraction. Southwest Colorado has been restored to a certain measure of rightness, puffy mounds of snow finally covering the weird winter typo of desiccated leaves splayed over dry soil.

And then, Newtown, Conn. Our hearts are shattered for those families, as I know yours are, too. The notion of losing a child roams the darkest, scariest caverns of my mind. And even as I’ve begun to imagine it, my mind shorts out like a flipped breaker switch, returning quickly to the well-lit places of grocery lists and weekend plans.

I’ve heard my friend Kati’s 4-year old son suggest – when she fails to honor his request for say, a ginormous brick of candy – that they find a solution together. I keep thinking of that. Can we find a solution together?

I like what author Glennon Melton, says: “I think, if never before, now is the time to admit that the problems we have are very, very complicated and multilayered and desperate. And to solve them, it’s going to take all of us. Right now, we cannot scream at each other for peace. I can’t, anyway. If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.”

Mostly, I don’t know anything. But, maybe affordable health care should be easier to obtain than a semi-automatic weapon. Also, as one of the wealthiest countries of the world, maybe we could take better care of our people, prioritizing our collective wellness over some worn-out Hollywood ideal of rugged individualism.

That heart-shattered place is sometimes the quickest and shortest path to a heart-opened place; I imagine you’ve noticed this, too. And it is from the heart-opened place that we have the largest capacity to do good things, to care for others, to press for solutions.

Please, don’t underestimate the small good that each of us can do. If you’re not sure where to start, we can start by not doing harm, by not yelling at or belittling our children. By treating people with kindness and compassion, especially ourselves. (And then forgive ourselves heartily, when we fail). Does this sound cliché? I don’t know. I think practicing kindness and compassion is more radical than we realize.

After reading about the tragedy in Newtown, I cradled my children like newborns and dolloped their bodies with kisses – elbows, thighs, earlobes, cheeks – like I used to when they were gummy-mouthed babies. I filled them with unconditional Mama-love, because that, more than anything on any Christmas wishlist, is the most valuable thing I can give them.

Reach Rachel Turiel at sanjuandrive@frontier.net.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.