Monday morning was a typical day for me. After attempting to wrestle food into Charlie we headed to the park. The park isn’t exactly my idea of the most pleasant way to spend my time but for Charlie it is great – fresh air, climbing and sliding (he loves) and swinging about (he mostly tolerates) he burns loads of energy and wear himself out in time for his daytime sleep. I especially like that a local park has a coffee hut but I’m not so thrilled about the tree nuts that I’m forever fishing out of Charlie’s mouth.
Back home and as I was getting Charlie’s morning tea ready and he was outside hosing the cat, I put the news on. It was one of those moments when time just stops. A siege in Sydney was taking place and every channel was doing a rolling coverage. I said a silent prayer before turning the television off, I limit Bananas in Pyjamas so there was no way I was having that on the TV whilst Charlie was around. MM and I discussed it that night and again I said another prayer when I went to bed that night. I remember waking up around 4am and my first thought was to check the news. My heart sank when I read the headline, an unspeakable tragedy.
I’ve always considered myself an empathetic person and sad news stories do have an impact on me. I don’t quite understand why, but for some reason this one hit me hard. I didn’t know anyone involved and there was no reason for me to feel so distressed about it but I did, though it seemed I wasn’t alone. Two hostages died that day and whilst both of their lives were equally as valued and important I genuinely struggled with the thought that one of those was a mother with three children. This had a profound effect on me. All day long I couldn’t stop looking at Charlie and thinking how awful it would be if I wasn’t around to watch him grow up. The thought terrified me.
When I go to work, like almost everyone, my morning ritual is to grab a coffee from the local café. I don’t even live in Sydney and yet it had the “it could have happened to anyone” feeling about it. On the days that I don’t work, Charlie and I will often go down the road to our busy local café precinct so that I can grab a quick coffee. It then occurred to me what would I do if the same thing happened but I had Charlie with me. I knew then and there what people meant when they say they would die for their children. This might all sound very dramatic but in my head these were my thoughts and emotions and I couldn’t shake them.
The very thought that someone could possibly and willingly hurt Charlie made me feel such an intense sense of the need to protect him. I wondered about all the parents who have children old enough to understand the basics of the siege but not the complexities of why. What on earth and how on earth do you explain what happened to a child? I’m raising a beautiful little person in a generation where terrorism is absolutely real and not just in some country a million miles away and I hate the thought of not being able to protect Charlie from what is wrong with the world.
Of course as he grows up I can’t shield him and I know this. Tragedy happens everyday and Charlie will need to learn about loss and learn how to become resilient and strong. It would be naïve to think that I can shield him from all the bad stuff. It’s just that one day earlier this week I was concerned about keeping Charlie safe from hurling himself off the couch and the next day I was concerned about keeping him safe from evil. A sad week and yet another one where I’ve been reminded how important it is to know that every day counts.