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Mommy Eyes

23 April 2013

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Everyone knows about the back-of-the-head eye(s) that you get as a mommy. We’ve all experienced our own mother’s rear vision at times. But no one tells you that your normal eyes change too, that looking forward and looking out become totally new experiences.

The Meatball is four months old, and I’ve just started reading the news again. (Because where I used to get up in the morning and have coffee and/or cereal, and flip through the news on my phone, I now get up in the morning and stare at my baby, change a diaper, and try to scarf down some kind of food while he’s content to sit in his bouncy seat.)

I tried a couple of times before now, but just couldn’t do it. It’s all bad news – on the apps, the websites, the talk radio – and I just wasn’t interested. A new baby has a way of making a person less cynical, and it seemed like that’s all the news outlets wanted from me.

Maybe the untimely death of a loved one has a concurrent way of crash-landing a person back into reality. I don’t know, but I started reading the news again recently and I was not prepared to be a mama in the big, bad world.

Terrorism has hit this country before. I was a college freshman in September, 2001, and I remember every detail about that morning. I remember the conversations I had that day, and the thoughts I was unsure about giving voice to. Who did this? What was the agenda? Would we go to war? Were we at war? How would the nation respond to military action? How would this affect W.’s presidency? The economy? I looked at angles and considered implications …

When I think about Boston, the first thing that always comes to mind is that one of the victims was an eight-year-old boy. I don’t know if motives have been discovered. I’m not even sure what’s become of the second brother. I just keep seeing that picture of a boy with a gap in his teeth and a blue, home-made sign asking that we stop hurting each other. I think about his mother taking him for ice cream, and then returning to the site of the blast just 15 minutes before the bomb went off. I wonder how the loss of her son will affect her own healing, and I pray she isn’t overcome with self-inflicted, unreasonable, guilt.

Accidents and negligence and disasters have happened within our borders as long as there have been factories and industry. Three years ago, I watched video and scrolled through photos of the Gulf Coast drenched in oil, of wildlife suffocating in it’s own skin. And I, along with so many people, asked who was to blame, and how much it would cost, and what was being done for those animals, and what was being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

When I think about West, Texas, I can’t turn off the voice of a little boy in the backseat of a car, yelling, “Dad? I can’t hear anything. Dad? Can we get out of here please?” My first thoughts are of Anthony, the little boy who was at a playground with his mom, and suffered broken ribs, or the governor’s description of the school playground that had been “leveled.” I know I read the numbers about the radius of the blast, and the seismic rating it generated, and the number injured, but I don’t remember any of them.

And abortion has been legal in this country for longer than I’ve been alive. I have argued passionately on both sides of the issue – escorting women into a Chicago clinic during college, and praying outside another Chicago clinic in silent protest years later. I have done the research and read the stories. I’ve watched the documentaries, and written articles and submissions beyond counting. I read about procedures with a twinge during my pro-choice years, and with a twisting in my stomach as I’ve changed my mind.

When I read about Kermit Gosnell, I skip the paragraphs in quotes or italics. I scroll past the testimonies, the descriptions, the details. Because I started to read one on accident and got light-headed at words like “snip.” I hugged my baby close to my chest and tried not to burst into tears, tried not to reduce the man – trapped as he must be in his own kind of hideous darkness – to a monster, in my head. I’m sure there were women’s health issues mentioned, and abortion arguments generalized, and health departments called out, but all I remember is the moment my son screamed for the first time and I got to hug him to my chest.

I knew, because everyone says, “A baby changes everything.” They didn’t tell me how he would make the whole world smaller, though. They didn’t tell me how I’d see my little boy in every other little boy, or myself in every other mama. I knew a baby would change my world, but I wasn’t prepared for how it would change the rest of the world as well.

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