jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Today is the Day

Today is the day.

Today is the day we all woke up late and groggy and grouchy because of the high school holiday concert last night that began at 7:30 pm.

Today is the day that Mica wouldn’t drink his breakfast fruit shake and he kept crying and whining because he wanted the rest of his lollipop from last night.

Today is the day Reid let me brush her hair and put it into ponytails without crying and so I gave her an extra kiss on her head because it was such a blessed relief from the usual whining.

Today is the day that Jasper was totally embarrassed to be dressed like a Who for his holiday play: the pink striped leggings that belonged to his sister, the polka dot yellow scarf that belongs to Mama, and a pair of Dada’s mismatched socks. So he made us drive all the way up to the school to find a parking spot and then bundle everyone out of the car and walk through the halls with all four kids getting underfoot and the adults jostling by us only to get to his kindergarten classroom and see him instantly relax at the sight of 14 other ridiculously dressed Whos.

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Today is the day that Cabot wouldn’t get her boots off and then her slippers on when she arrived at pre-school, and she wouldn’t put her lunch bag in the basket, and then the twins wouldn’t leave her classroom.

Today is the day we drove to the art supply store to buy the gift for the little girl we “adopted” to buy holiday gifts for, and the twins pulled a jar of pencils down and ripped the large cardboard price tags off the shelves. Then they asked for a free pencil without saying please and didn’t say thank you for the free Model Magic they got instead.

Today is the day that Mica stayed in the car for a half an hour in our driveway in 25 degree weather screaming and crying because he couldn’t find his Model Magic packet. And it was in the pocket of his jacket.

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Today is the day that I need to finish the teacher gifts and get onto Amazon and see what my nieces want for Christmas and find a wool coat for Tim and order Harry & David pears for my sister-in-law and have a gift card for a manicure sent to my sister for her birthday and line up a tour of the nearby retirement home for my mother when she visits in two weeks.

Today is the day I stand at the counter slicing ham for their lunch and I hear the poem written by the Connecticut Poet Laureate, Dick Allen, called Solace in the middle of WBUR’s pledge drive. I grip the counter and cry.

Because today is the day I can’t stop thinking, would it have been about this time of day on this day last year that those Sandy Hook mothers and fathers got the call or heard the news? Would it be now? Or now? To be in that last group of parents who you know but don’t really know, holding one or two of your children but waiting for the other, picturing the face of your child with all your will as if by sheer effort and wishing and prayers you could make it appear, avoiding the eyes of those other parents which are filled with grief, and fear, and hope, mirroring your own. I think I would have hated those other eyes for witnessing and I would have loved them for suddenly becoming a sister or brother in the midst of such horror.

Today I cannot stop thinking about this. (If only I could wish back the faces of those children and teachers and send them home to their families…)

Today I take my four children to a celebration of the season at the farm up the road, watch them as they push to see the cows in the pasture as the snow begins to fall. I smell their heads and slide my hand up the back of their shirts to touch the warm skin that barely hides their spines, and I remember those lost children.

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No small hand will go unheld,

In the snow lightly falling.

In the snow lightly falling,

No hand will go unheld.

No voice once heard is ever lost

In the snow lightly falling.

In the snow lightly falling,

No voice once heard is ever lost.

From Solace, by Dick Allen

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5 comments on “Today is the Day

  1. Ailsa Steinert
    December 14, 2013

    That is beautiful, Jen…I love the way it turns in the middle and let’s the reader in…Merry Christmas!
    Ailsa

    • jgroeber
      December 15, 2013

      Oh, thank you, Ailsa. Your words mean so much to me. I never write something and post it right away (too many flaws! needs edits!), but I wanted to remember exactly these kinds of days, the sloppy, numbing, slightly annoying ones that slip right by in their utter flawed predictability and nothingness. There’s nothing worth telling about a day like that until it becomes vulnerable, and then I rediscover that these children are my heart.

  2. dvb415
    December 16, 2013

    Bam.
    You’ve done it again.
    I’ve had the same thoughts, many times. Get the call or text. Rush to the parent zone, safe zone, pick-up zone, whatever. Watch kids and families being reunited. Craning my neck to see where my precious, sweet, innocent daughter is. If it my turn yet? No more kids on that bus. Maybe the next one. Not seeing her. Feeling the knot in my stomach. Being gently approached by a police officer after waiting in the cold for hours, alone. I cannot imagine the horror.
    Colorado. Connecticut. Virginia. Georgia. Evil is everywhere, Jen. We cannot live in fear, for then evil has won. Instead, we make the most of every moment, carving out a warm cave filled with love, selfishly surrounding our loved ones in a bulletproof cocoon. Parents at Sandy Hook and Columbine tried that too. I feel guilty because I feel grateful it wasn’t my turn.
    Thank you for vividly expressing the thoughts we all feel. Does it make you feel better? Are you compelled to write? You have readers out here like me that feel better every time they see the words Mama Art in their inbox.
    Keep moving the pen, Jen.

    • jgroeber
      December 22, 2013

      Oh, thank you for getting it. And yes, writing it makes me feel better to write. It swims around in my head disjointed until I let it out. And that one isn’t an easy one to confront in my messy brain.

      I think I grew up thinking about mortality. I practiced in my head what I would do in emergencies, but even more, how I would feel if the worst things came to pass. And that helps nothing, of course. But reminding myself now to be mindful and present in each moment (because those are our only real defenses, to cherish the moment we’re in, not out of fear, but out of love), well that does help.

      Thank you for reading it and for sharing the story below. Wondering where you found it… It’s so exactly what I imagined it seems as if it was already planted in my brain.

  3. dvb415
    December 17, 2013

    A Sandy Hook Story

    Mark could see himself that morning, too, rushing out of the house at 10, knowing only that shots had been fired at Sandy Hook and parents would be reunited with their children at the firehouse. Jackie had started driving from Pawling, calling and texting him again and again. “Do you have him?” “DO YOU HAVE HIM YET?” A priest had announced that the principal had been killed, and Mark had wondered: “How will we explain this to Daniel?” Then the same priest had said 20 children were also dead, and there was shrieking and vomiting in the firehouse, and Mark had imagined Daniel running alone in the woods behind the school. He was fast. He had escaped.

    Then the governor was in front of them, and he was saying, “No more survivors,” and a state trooper was driving Mark and Jackie home. Mark was sitting in the passenger seat, dazed and quiet and looking over at the state trooper, who had begun to weep.

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This entry was posted on December 13, 2013 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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