It was one of those perfect little moments when you feel that you and Life are finally, if fleetingly, on the same page -- that your input of effort, time, and talent into your daily life matches the happiness and satisfaction you receive. These moments are fleeting but important to treasure, because they can evaporate before you blink.
As we passed the neighborhood's firehouse, I saw the flag at half-mast. I blinked. And the moment was gone.
My hands tightened on the stroller handle, and I looked down at my son, half-smiling in his sleep. He had no idea what had happened at the Boston Marathon earlier this week. He doesn't know what it means to have the flag at half-mast. He doesn't know anything about IEDs, about terrorists and tragedies, about war or pain, or even fear. The closest Baby's gotten to fear is about forty seconds of crying after his two-month immunization shots.
But as I looked at him, I was hit with the fresh realization that someday, years from now when another tragedy occurs, I will have to explain to him why the flag is at half-mast. Someday I will have to tell him what war is. "9/11," "Newtown," "Virginia Tech," "Columbine," and now "Boston" will enter his nascent vocabulary. And he will learn to be afraid.
For a minute I wanted to burst into tears right there, on the sidewalk between the Mexican grocery store and the post office. I wanted to cry against the day when he will see the world through an adult's eyes.
But then I thought of what my mother told me about Baby so many times during my pregnancy: "You will learn to see the world through his eyes."
Right now, Baby's eyes see only loving faces. His ears hear only kind voices and pleasant music. His hands feel only toys and blankets. His skin knows only gentle hugs, warm baths, and soft beds. Aside from dirty diapers and the occasional spit-up, his entire LIFE is a continuous string of perfect little moments.
Someday, as he grows and learns, the fears and dangers of the world will begin to make sense to him, and those perfect little moments will begin to grow fewer and farther between. My job as his mother will not be to prevent that, for it is impossible. My job will be to help him to never stop looking for those moments. My job will always be to help him in finding the good -- and being the good -- in the world around him.