Parents spend millions and millions of seconds thinking about what is best for their child, deciding what is best for their child, doing what is best for their child. Seconds upon seconds upon seconds nurturing, loving and supporting their child.
As a pregnant mother, you cook your deli meat to the correct safe temperature, stay away from microwaves, drive a little slower, triple wash your lettuce, pay extra for organic milk, give up alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, stop visiting nail salons, make it through your days without your morning coffee.
As an expectant father, you start doing the math about saving up for college in 18 years, give up smoking, attend birthing classes, CPR classes, put together cribs, research the best parenting techniques, find the safest bottles and start dreaming about what lessons you will teach your child.
As parents waiting for an adopted child, you prepare your finances, give up extra expenses, add safety features to your home, exercise more and give up unhealthy vices so that you can be alive and healthy for as long as possible, take classes, research the best formula and healthiest sleep techniques.
This is all before our babies are even in our arms.
From the moment we realize we are going to have a child, every second of our lives is ultimately focused on somehow making life better for that child. Every second of every day is spent doing things for our children, helping them grow, caring for them, trying to bring them joy, trying to ease their pain, working hard to earn money to provide for them, hugging them tightly and telling them how much we love them.
All of those seconds add up. They literally add up to a lifetime.
That is why people say that their children are their life. It is because they truly are our life. Once they have entered our life, everything we do is for them.
And nothing can hurt us more than losing them.
The problem, is that losing them can also take just a second. Not the lifetime of seconds we have woven together to raise our child, but just one solitary second. One stupid, senseless, careless, horrific second.
After spending millions of seconds protecting our children, something outside of our control can take them away from us in one, single second.
The seconds following must surely feel like eternity. I can’t fathom the millions of seconds adding up after losing a child. Each one unbearable.
For many of us, sending our kids off to kindergarten is the first time that they are out of arms, our sight, our control for such significant amounts of time. We aren’t dropping them off for a music class or a morning pre-school. We are fully entrusting them to adults other than ourselves for six hours a day, five days a week. It can be scary. It is a reminder that having a child is truly living life with your heart outside of your chest, bracing itself for harm and hurt. But then you get into a rhythm, laugh with other parents at pick-up, forge a place in your heart for your child’s first teacher, smile as you see the same friendly staff at the front of the school each day. Your guard goes down a little.
And then someone comes along and sadistically squeezes your heart, twisting it in a way you didn’t know was possible. Your heart that is living outside of your chest, giving them easy access. They squeeze it so hard you think it is going to burst. There is no way it can withstand that kind of pain. But it does survive and they walk away.
Only taking a second of their life to forever change yours.