“The worst day ever.”
I have been trying to define this day in our lives for two years. Trying to explain to new friends in our new town why we moved. Trying to explain to people why we are a stronger, better, more united family than ever before. What I’ve come to learn is “that day” does not define our family. We define our family and I’m pretty damn proud of all of us.
It was a beautiful Tuesday in April. My two children and I had just concluded a fun-filled morning playgroup outside our home and finished it off with a picnic lunch in the warm sun. I’ll never forget that warm sun. Those of you from New England know, early April days are the BEST days. This morning was no exception. It was the best morning, one of those “winning Mom” mornings where everything was going perfectly.
We came inside to get ready for nap. I locked our deadbolts (to this day I don’t know why) and started to dress my babies in their pajamas. As I finished putting my son’s pj pants on, we started to hear shouting, shattering glass, banging…someone was trying to break into our home in the middle of the day. I remember thinking we would not make it, asking God to take me and not my children. It went on for what seemed an eternity. Broken glass, lawn furniture, our front door and window–shattered.
I’d like to say I was “Mom of the Year” and took on the “bad guy” as my son still refers to him. Or, that I found my phone with ease and called 911 immediately, or that I escaped through a back door and ran swiftly through our woods carrying both my children & heroically saving their lives. But, the truth is, we hid. I hid my children and myself, and we survived. We survived.
A lot followed “the incident.”
I questioned myself as a mother to the core. I cried alone in the shower. I took rides in my car to cry. I was petrified to be left alone. I shook with fear. I hated our home. I was afraid to leave the house, I was afraid to stay home. I had a safety plan for our every move. My son hid under our kitchen table every time someone came to our door. Every time someone said, “You’re okay and that’s all that matters.” I wanted to scream. I WAS NOT OKAY. No one could understand. No one could feel what I felt. No one could understand my self-hatred for not being a “brave warrior mama.” Why could no one understand?
What I did learn was I had a safety net. I had friends who brought dinners, family that came when my husband left for work and refused to leave until he returned, cousins who brought me out just to cry, neighbors who sat and listened. To say my therapist was not the leader of my safety net would be doing her a vast disservice. She taught me what trauma was. There was a reason no one could feel what I felt. She taught me I had every right to FEEL. I had every right to CRY. This was my right.
What I didn’t have, was the right to tell myself I was a bad mother, a failure. She taught me that I was and strong. I learned every decision we make to protect our children as parents is the right decision. I saved our family. I was brave. We survived. And my kids…well, they are warriors.
There is no part of our journey that was easy. There was no part of our journey that I was “okay.” But today, because of my safety net, we are happy. I can look back and not define that day as a “the worst day ever” but instead describe it as our family’s Defining Moment. (“The point at which the essential character of a (our) group is (was) revealed or identified.”– Dictionary.com)
I believe every family has a defining moment. Ours made us a strong, grounded family. A family that is happy and filled with love and appreciation for the little things we once took for granted. A family that will never allow anyone to take our happiness from us. A family that enjoys every sunny day to the fullest–that appreciates small gestures from friends. A family that RESPECTS all families. That believes all families are warriors fighting their own battles. Warriors protecting their children to the ends of the earth, all in their own way, often, in different ways…but always, in the right way.