Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why my mind reels this week.

My son Cami is only 19 months old, so it awhile before he heads off to college. But whether I’m dropping him off at daycare or helping him someday unload boxes into his freshman dorm (if he’ll let me) the only way I can wave goodbye to him without completely losing my shit is by trusting that school will be a place of learning for him. Of safety. Not of violence.

Last Monday was every parents’ worst nightmare. It was certainly mine. In the days that followed, I found myself drawn to articles about the shooting, but I couldn’t finish them. I especially couldn’t read the personal details of the victims. Because every time I did, my next thought was “What if that were…” and then I was in one of those classrooms and seeing the face of my son. And I couldn’t read any further.

My husband and I “pulled the goalkeeper”—that is, I went off birth control—in March 2003, when I turned 40. This was before we were even married, before he had even proposed. We turned to fertility treatments in January 2004. They worked, sort of: I got pregnant. And then I miscarried at 8 weeks, after seeing the heartbeat of the fetus we had taken to calling “Peanut.” One month later, I found out I was pregnant again, and then miscarried a few days later. We went through nine more months of infertility treatments before conceiving Cami on New Year’s Day of 2005.

It’s not clear that we’ll have any more children. We’ve been trying to conceive a brother or sister for Cami since he was six months old. On April 5, we learned that our second round of IVF had failed: none of four embryos had kept developing. I know how I felt about those little groupings of cells. I know how I feel about my son. I can’t imagine how the parents of the Virginia Tech victims feel. I can’t imagine how the parents of Cho Seung-Hui feel. I can’t go there. I can’t afford to go there.

I don’t want to be a “helicopter mom,” hovering over Cami for the rest of his life. Intellectually, I know that I can’t protect him from totally random events. (In the area where we live, some people consider getting into the right preschool an act of God.) But if I could drive him to school in an armored vehicle and stand behind him with an Uzi, I would.

The first week I dropped Cami off at daycare, I could hear him crying as I walked to the car. I felt like the world's worst mother. My husband, who was on a business trip at the time, didn't get why I was calling him in tears. Then he came back, and he got drop-off duty. He got it. But things got better. Now when we drop him off, my son waves and points to the door, dismissing us.

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