I watched my two daughters, scraggly hair and yogurt-stained faces, haphazardly wrap the dolls up in blankets, meant to stay clean and not be drug all over my dirty living room floor. The youngest, simply mimicking her older sister, fumbling through the process of holding an awkwardly heavy baby doll, while making sure there wasn't a step missed in the dance party, going on simultaneously.
Her older sister, with a couple years on her, is not necessarily strong in the gracefulness of multi-tasking, yet wins a gold star, every time, in determination. Donned with white ankle socks and dressy black flats, a ballerina skirt, her pajama top, and a pearl necklace, she pranced around the room, cradling the wrapped baby doll, working her fancy foot work to the music and speaking words that left me frozen in time:
"Mama is here."
Before I had children, in the wealth of token statements we're given, presumably preparing us for parenthood, I heard that you don't have to teach a girl to be a nurturer. Sure, there are those of you who are more savvy than the rest of us, but, for the most part, there's something wired in our DNA that calls for us to be caretakers. We may not all even become mothers, ourselves, but that desire to take care of those who need the "taking care", runs deep. And, there are few words that bring more comfort to us, even as adults, as knowing mom isn't going anywhere.
I recently found a meme that I think puts the often used term, "mama bear", rather well:
I may seem quiet and reserved, but if you
mess with my children, I will break out a level
of crazy that will make your nightmares seem
like a happy place.
We've all experienced them or been them. A zero to over-the-top, in about 2 seconds, when it comes to defending their child. Removing obstacles standing in the way of their child's success, sacrificing their own time, health, even pride, to ensure their child is cared for.
Regardless of where you fall on the mama-bear spectrum or opinion, we can all agree, our best is the only option, when it comes to protecting our children.
Then, you can understand why parents seem to sit in the seat of self-judgement, when it comes to the heavy issue of suicide. I haven't personally known a parent whose child chose to take their own life, but from what I have read, watched, and witnessed through others' experiences, a parent has a difficult time pulling themselves out of the pit of guilt, when their child makes that heart-wrenching decision.
Let me say, I don't know that I can question them.
Think about it, from day one, we have been the source of their provision, from what they put into their mouths, to the clean clothes they can wear outside our homes. Their beds may be simple, but they're stable and we will go without, one billion times, if it means they can receive. So, wouldn't it be our responsibility to ensure that they never feel the urge or follow through, with suicidal thoughts?
Statistics show, social media pressures, cyber-bullying, and bullying at school are among the culprits causing the percentage of children and teens committing suicide, ages 10 to 17, from 2006-2016, to increase between 70-77%. With that statistic, it would seem, parents whose children are among those increases would be able to be at peace with the fact that the child's choice was no responsibility of theirs.
But, just as in the provision we have provided from the early days of their lives, we blame ourselves if we don't recognize them, in light of their behavior.
First, I say this to any parent, grandparent, or guardian of a child, a child's suicide is never your fault. And, to the rest of us, who reel with fear when we even think of the tragedy, what can we do with this reality? We know, this Generation Z we're parenting has never known life without the constant bombardment of instant information, constant contact, and endless pressures to measure up...all within the throws of the little device we provide for them, called a smart phone. How do we ensure the statistic looks dramatically different, in ten years?
This week, one of our beloved former First Ladies died. In watching different commentaries on her life, I kept seeing one segment of a speech she gave, perhaps at a graduation ceremony, of some sort, played over and over again. Her words have left beautiful damage on the areas of my heart that tends to let moments, like this morning's baby-doll-dance-party slip by, without being captured:
"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not
winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent
with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent."
I believe Mrs. Bush knew, there is nothing that can replace time. If you have lost a child, in this tragic manner, my hope is your healing brings about a passion inside you to take your story and bring change to this
staggering statistic. If your child hasn't made this choice, but you wonder if your child is steadily making it, in the daily pressures they face, never forget, your voice is loud in their ears, not in volume, but in influence.
Do the sometimes hard thing and simply talk.
Our best is always what they deserve.