I’ve been debating writing this post all week. Every time I’ve had a chance over these past few days, I tell myself to get going and write it. Not so much because Ashley and JP’s wedding is that big of a deal, but because, as you know, I make promises to myself (and to you) about writing in between Bachelor seasons and let’s be honest – I haven’t held up my end of the deal.
But then THIS happened. And you all know what THIS is. This single tragic moment in time that has paralyzed me with fear for my children, that has filled me with such a deep sense of sadness that I’ve cried rivers sitting in front of my laptop all week long, staring at those precious faces, aching for those parents trying to navigate through their new reality and trying, like everybody else, to make sense of it all.
So this week, I’m not a tell-it-like-it-is, leave no flaw un-noticed ‘babe from the burbs.’ This week, I’m just a mom.
Sure, it would be easy for me to ponder how it is that even with clothes that tight, Ashley has no rolls.
I could run off a few lines about how Molly certainly wasn’t ‘rocking her bump’ during that interview with Jason and that it made me shudder as I realized we’d have to live the next six months swallowing vomit while the media labels Kate Middleton’s maternity wardrobe ‘iconic’ despite the fact that it will likely be the most brutal, frump-tastic eyesore we’ve ever seen (come on, you know it’s true).
I could mention that hearing Emily tell the camera that she still has hope for herself, made me utter a silent prayer – ‘dear God, please don’t give this fame whore another season’.
And then of course, I could focus on ABC’s sweethearts, Ashley and JP (Jordan Paul – who knew?) in all of their sickeningly-in-love glory. I could admit (and it’s okay, you can too) that watching them eat caramel apples just reaffirmed for me that caramel apples are, in fact, gross. Sure, the shell is a party in your mouth, but once you get past it, you’re left with a too-soft, likely bruised apple that’s been sitting on a shelf a few days too long.
I could talk about Ashley’s sister who’s very pretty, but also very not normal, or I could make some remark about she and her mom having the same thong and that watching Ashley ride that pole, while obnoxious, was still better than the Nair ad from her season where she crawled towards the camera through the sand, every freaking time there was a commercial. And don’t even get me started on the imprint of JP on her toenails.
And then I could get mushy and admit that, you know what? They made it. Two years after meeting, and no doubt a ton of off-camera scrutiny later, they made it. And they looooooove each other. And they’re happy. And they basically seem like a normal (albeit bubbly) couple. And their wedding was beautiful. And her flowers were a huge improvement from Trista’s Pepto-pink themed wedding. And her dress was perfection. And he is adorable. And their dog, while totally emasculating, kinda does grow on you.
Yes, there were a lot of tears shed this week, and admittedly, some of them were for Ashley and JP.
But almost all of them were for those kids. And teachers. And families. And community. And for all of us parents, who in deep dark moments, picture our kids in this kind of nightmare. Driving past the cookie-cutter elementary schools in my neighborhood, slowing down to let people cross, I am hyper-aware of my surroundings, noticing details like missing letters on signs and one lone tree, leaves still clinging defiantly to branches against the cold wind. I drive by and wonder how the morning went that day in those houses.
Was it like my house? A slow, snuggly start, clothes laid out neatly, my heart melting as I quietly watch my five and a half year old son coach my two and a half year old daughter through the art of teeth-brushing? An attempt to offer something other than cereal or waffles followed by heaping portions of cereal and waffles. And then, the slow panic setting in. A look at the clock. The realization of the impending day – meetings, deadlines, dinner to prep, drop-offs to do. The rush to get out the door, the hunt for mitts and hats and forgotten library books. The wrestling match with a stubborn zipper that sends my son into a frustrated frenzy as he tries desperately to be independent. The meltdown by my two year old as I calmly explain for the 18th time, why she can’t wear flip flops in December. Another mental note to myself, to hide the goddamn flip flops.
Did it happen for them, just like that? Did they have time for kisses? For looks in the eye and ‘I love you’ and ‘have a great day!’? For special surprises in lunch bags?
I have no answers. I barely have any more tears. I don’t even have questions, because what does it matter? It happened and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can blame gun control. We can blame mental illness. But all I want to do is reach out and hug those mothers who are asking themselves how they’re going to get through this. How they’re going to be able to be there for their other kids, with that same hair, that same sparkle in their eyes staring back at them, reminding them. How they’re going to chastise themselves for not slowing it down that morning, for not taking the time for the extra kiss, for being too busy the night before cleaning up the kitchen to enjoy time with the kids before bed. How they’re going to ask ‘what if?’ and say ‘if only’ for the rest of their lives, because that’s what mothers do.
I’m sure in time, I’ll be back to myself and so will all of you. In a few weeks, I’ll be sitting on my couch watching Sean Lowe begin ‘his journey’ to find love and taking notes on uni-boobs and bad poems and throbbing biological clocks.
But this week, I’m just a mom. And I’m going to go hug my kids.