Angels are figures that have been in media quite a bit over the last few years, and frankly it bugs me. From underwear models, to cream cheese ads, to kids shows, it seems like every time I turn around there is another tall, skinny model with over sized wings strapped to her back. Why would I have a problem with the embodiment of love, kindness, and protection? Well, I have to say, it kind of creeps me out.
Growing up, my mom was part of an "Angel Club" where ladies would get together and make angel art out of lots of different materials. We lived next door to someone that I only remember as "The Angel Lady" who's entire house was plastered with collages, figurines, and decorations dedicated to angels. My mom was best at drawing, and I remember her drawing angels in all sorts of ways - baby angels, grown-up angels, cooking angels... she has her own style and I could pick one of her drawings out of a line-up of a hundred. She even has this beautiful alphabet she made with each letter formed by angels and their wings making each shape. Anyway, angels seemed pretty normal to me. At least, they did until I had my own kids.
I mean, I KNEW what angels were, I just didn't think about it too much. My religion teaches that souls live in heaven as angels. They come down, become a newborn baby and go through life as a person. Then, when they die, they get to go back up to heaven to be an angel, again. Sometimes angels come back down to watch over the ones they loved as a human on earth and they are what we call Guardian Angels. It was a comforting thought to me that we all start out and end up in the same place, together, and that I might be watched over by someone dear to me who was no longer alive.
Then, when LH was a baby, someone gave us a book called The Littlest Angel. I am sure it was given with the best intentions, but that book scarred me and I will never be able to look at angels the same way. It is essentially a Christmas book about all the angels in heaven looking for gifts to give to the baby Jesus when he is born. Sounds innocent enough, but of course it gets deeper and eerier. The Littlest Angel decided that he would give baby Jesus some things he had collected from his time on earth, because he was just a little boy when he came to Heaven.
Oh, holy goodness that messed me up. Just a little kid. Now he was an angel. Missing his life on earth. Because he died as a kid. Do you see where this is going?
Suddenly, I could not even open that book again. In fact, even looking at the cover today gives me the creeps. I refused every request to read since then and I haven't even picked it up except to pack it away at the bottom of a box. The creepiness of little kid angels still haunts me enough that I don't even like other kids books or shows with angels in them. Disney has a series about a family of wizards and last summer they had a three or four show story arc about good angels and bad angels and little kid guardian angels... yeah, not for me, thankyouverymuch.
Maybe I am over reacting to this, but I can't help it. When you look at your kid and you remember handing them over to a surgeon and not knowing if you will ever see them alive again, it kind of sticks with you and changes the way you look at things. Disney World will forever be that place I took my three-year-old because I wasn't sure she would see four-years-old. Birthdays for LH are even more bittersweet than they should normally be, because I am called to not just remember her birth and babyhood, but that her first month was spent in ICU. We nearly lost her when she got a cold and had to postpone her second surgery. She spent four weeks in the hospital with a chest tube right after she turned 4. She spent six weeks during 6th grade leaving class early to avoid getting jostled and bruised after she got two stints put in over winter break. Every birthday - every single day - has been a stark reminder that she wasn't supposed to live this long or be nearly as smart, healthy, or well adjusted. All of it could be taken away in a second.
Little Heart to me is a kid, a child, a teenager, my grown-up baby girl, but NEVER will I call her an angel while she is alive to hear it. For moms like us, "kiddos" means your living, breathing, with-you-right-now, child. "Angel" is what you call the ones who did not survive. If I were to ever call any one of my kids "my little angel" there would be dozens of hearts breaking across the world who would think the unthinkable had happened to one of my girls.
That is why I change the channel whenever I see that stupid cream cheese commercial or the convenience store ads that say Thank Heaven... It seems a bit sacrilegious and irreverent to use angels in commercial advertising so thoughtlessly. Besides, I have enough reminders in my daily life how close I have been to having my own angel. I don't want to be faced with it for another 30 seconds every three minutes of television. Now, I'm not suggesting a boycott or anything. In my country you can say whatever you want and if you don't want to hear it, you can just change the channel. I'm just stating my position on changing the channel whenever another a body wash commercial decides to use Fallen Angels as a way to sell their product.
Today happens to be LH's 14th birthday. Again, it is bittersweet and emotional for me. Instead of freaking out that she is starting high school in a week, that she is a few years shy of driving, that she is only four years away from being an adult, I am going to give my teenager a hug and be thankful I don't have to hug the picture of an angel.
Ok, I won't lie. I will be thinking about all that other stuff, too.
Deb "The Mom" Lollar
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