Newtown Tragedy: How My Parenting Changed Forever for the Better.


I’ve been struggling to find the words to express what I feel for the families of Newtown.  Then my friend Magnolia Ripkin, an exceptionally talented writer and editor, wrote a piece on behalf of our Blunt Mom blogging group, which expressed exactly what is in my heart. I urge you to read and share it.

Many of us try to find meaning in what happened or at least, in our own way, do something so that somehow these precious lives lost were not entirely in vain. For me this has manifested itself in two ways. First, despite being far from home, I’ve tried to participate and put pressure on legislators to create common sense gun laws. We haven’t succeeded yet, but we will. I have no doubt about this.

The second happened at a much more personal level. Bedtime should be such a precious and intimate moment, but frequently, for so many of us, the end of a long day coupled with tired kids can be a recipe for tension, lost patience and ill feelings. Too often, I would try to rush through the process and even uttering less than kind words to my kids in a desperate attempt to just get them to sleep. The night Newtown happened, I caught myself doing the same and remembered that despite my girls acting like right little horrors, 26 families and in particular 20 parents of young children would do anything to get the chance to be tucking their child safe at home. I vowed never to take bedtime for granted again.

That night I stopped and took a deep breath. I tried to take in and appreciate every second of our nightly routine instead of rushing through it. I thought about how I would say goodnight if I knew I wasn’t to see them again the next day -and then realized that I couldn’t realistically cram all of us in one of the small Ikea kid beds for the entire night. So extended hugs, kisses, and whispers were shared. I remembered to tell them I love them and not just in my rote ‘night night’ voice but while being 100% in the moment and engaged with them.

I still get tired and cranky. I still fumble and stumble at bedtime but now I am much better at catching it early and hitting the reset button. And as I do this,  my heart hopes that Charlotte Bacon , Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino , Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hocksprung, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker , Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, and  Allison Wyatt know that I am a much better parent thanks to them, that I will never forget them, that I’ll keep fighting on behalf of their families and I bid them sweet dreams along with my own two angels.

Bedtime Stories: Olivia & the Countdown to Getting Busted!

This post was inspired in part by Carl Honoré’s wonderful talk at PopTech on his book In Praise of Slowness – specifically the temptation of the one-minute bedtime story. Someday my girls will thank him. For thanks to him I take a deep breath and remember to embrace the bedtime moment.

This is Olivia.

She is good at lots of things.

She is good at wearing me out

…since my daughter will only let me read this book to her. She doesn’t wear my daughter out.

Olivia lives with her mother, her father, her brother,

and two pets Perry and Edwin whose names really don’t work well in French.

When Olivia gets dressed, she has to try on everything.

That’s 17 outfits, many of which could be called different things: sweater, jumper, turtleneck or ball-gown, opera-gown, evening-gown, opera dress… And if mummy doesn’t get it just right, Olivia’s #1 Fan reprimands me and makes me start over.

Every day Olivia is supposed to take a nap.

Mummy hates this page because how do you translate “It’s time for your you-know-what” to French? And what about the implied lack of obedience with the next dancing two-page spread headed

Of course Olivia’s not at all sleepy.

#1 Fan loves these 2 pages. “She’s dancing!”

On rainy days, Olivia likes to go to the Museum. There is one painting Olivia just doesn’t get.

– a Jackson Pollock so Olivia is clearly in good company.

“I could do that in about five minutes,” she says to her mother.

#1 Fan’s mother worries that she will also try it at home.

Time Out (and again this in French?!)

“Time out on the naughty steps” echoes #1 Fan.  Maybe I will be saved by #1’s glee at seeing others punished?

After a nice bath,
and a nice dinner,

Mummy wonders why they couldn’t have included some vegetables here.

it’s time for bed.
“But of course Olivia’s not at all sleepy”

Again sowing the seeds of discord.

“Only five books tonight, Mummy” she says.

Followed by:

Well Olivia’s really pushing it. And her mother – I mean what kind of example is she setting? Olivia can’t be more that four or five. Is she negotiating with a four-year-old? And who gets the better deal – they settle on THREE? Right there in black and white, the message:

Children, bug your parents and you will get your way.

Mummy’s adjusted version:

“No Olivia, just one.”
“How about four?”
“No Olivia. Just one
and that’s it.”

#1 Fan currently recites this ending along with me. But it is only a matter of time before I am busted.

 Night night Olivia. Tomorrow, same time, same place.