Shelter for the swarm

The house had filled up with children.

One washed up from a birthday party. Another seeped in through the door. A third trickled in with two of mine. I didn’t even notice until the number of children in the house was twice that of of my own, until there seemed to be an actual, bona fide crowd gathering in the living room.

When I wasn’t looking, my band of Three had doubled so that now they were something to be navigated, a river to be forded.

This polite tangle of children sported six heads and twelve arms. The heads talked amongst themselves about things I’d never seen and plans I’d had no part in making. They rearranged themselves on the sofa to get a better look at a screen one of them held in front of the others, one lounging on and around the arm, another hovering just behind.

And when I finally, fully took stock of the substantive assembly under our roof, I found myself so glad they were there.

From the time The Three were very small, I have struggled with fear for their safe passage through their childhood. It is something all of us do to varying degrees with anyone who has staked an indisputable claim to some piece of our heart. We totter through our days, each of us keeping a child’s faith that all that we love will be returned to us, hungry and loud, by dinnertime.

The Three are venturing out on wobbly legs these days, sometimes farther away from the meager protection of their home than I am entirely comfortable with. I try to be careful while appearing to be reasonable. This is no small feat, and let me just be the first to tell you that I have erred on the side of caution so as to appear ridiculous and paranoid on some occasions only to not be cautious enough on others.

It is a crap shoot, this parenting thing.

So maybe it was the news out of Boston yesterday, reminding me again—as if, dear God, I need any more reminders—of the dangerous nature of men, the unpredictable course of events, the capricious turns of circumstance, that where you stand from one moment to the next may decide whether or not you return to your home loud and hungry at all, but I find myself glad all over again for yesterday afternoon and the happy crush of children, eating and drinking and yelling and laughing.

Safe.

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