It’s that dangerous time of night when really you should just take out your contact lenses, wipe off what’s left of the day’s mascara and go to bed before you think about tinkering with a blog post that still feels way too hot for words. But sometimes, hot is good. Sometimes we are meant to come back to the carpet after putting on the pair of glasses the baby broke with the missing left ear temple piece thinggy (at least that’s what Google tells me it’s called). Sometimes you have to just sit down and write the hot feelings before they’ve cooled because that fire, it stands for something.

And tonight something broke in me.

Something broke wide open and angry when my five-year-old’s primary take away from the Super Bowl, this date on the calendar he’s been anticipating for weeks now, is a shocked recollection of several commercials I wish I could bleach clean out of his head.

So before you call me a prude, before you click away, roll your eyes, mutter under your breath about stay-at-home moms with no sense of a good laugh at no one’s expense, let me tell you about the conversation I had with a five-year-old and seven-and-a-half-year-old beneath the white Christmas lights strung from their bunk bed.

Let me invite you past the statistics about the impact of media and images and the rabidly sexualized landscape that our boys are growing up in and simply share one small story. Stories are what I know. And the stories of these two boys make up my days and nights and are the pages I book mark and come back to re-read sifting for ways I could have taught them, heard them, prepared them better. Studying them as I become a student of the men they are growing into.

There is an awesomeness to the spectacular of the Super Bowl. A modern man’s arena, a Herculean struggle between athletes that have hurt and trained and arrived to take home a piece of history. So they tune in, these boys of mine, who love the story behind the sport more than the touch downs and final scores I think. They are still in awe at the spectacle, learning the language, the colors of the teams and the hometowns of the players.

We enter into the moment, all five of us. Pete between the two boys, Zoe snuggled up all nearly-two-years of her and me, the South African who has adopted this country and the anthem we all stand to attention to recognize. I get the symbolism and the patriotism and the flat out, crazy fun of the moment. And the commercials. I get that these are supposed to compliment the experience as we’re treated to the best wit, flair, and creativity that 30 million dollars a pop can buy these days.

But I found myself speechless when my five-year-old whispered to me from beneath his white lights after we finally wound our way to a long overdue bedtime, “Mama, I got something to tell you. But it’s bad. You wanna know?”

And I take a deep breath and shake my cowardly head, no. As if I can ward off the world, as if I can unsee the movie reel I know is playing in his head. Because there is no going back from the moment when a young soul describes with surprise and wide eyes about how a man came into a room where a lady was sleeping and tried to creep her shirt off her without waking her up.

Believe me, there are no appropriate words to explain the “context” of that scene because I tried tonight and failed.

They both watched me waiting for an answer. The night light that still wards off shadows and monsters reflecting in their eyes and all I could offer was how the world is sometimes a darker place than their bedroom. All I could do was help them into warm pajamas. And listen with ears that always, always welcome their voices, their embarrassed questions.

Because tonight they saw a beautiful woman suck face with a red cheeked young boy and there was nothing that could white wash the embarrassment.

There was not even the decency of pretense. No facade of intimacy, romance or relationship. There was just sex dressed up as a kiss that was intended to revolt. And generate sales.

I tuck the blankets up to their necks, I stroke soft hair, lay hands on small heads and pray. I pray the desperate prayer of a mother who is not afraid of her soap box.

Dear God, when the world tries to claw at them, to break them, to smash the beauty in them, may our foundation hold true. May the lessons we’ve told, the truths we’ve lived, the life we’ve spoken into them come back easily, predictably, with courageous instinct.

While others might hear, “diaper-changer, food-maker, car-pooler, bottle-washer, laundry-doer, sweat pants-wearer, no-brain, mushy, washed up, life-on-hold” wanna be doing anything else woman, the Truth, whether it feels like it some days or not, is that we are in fact a shelter from the storm. We are a Cape of Good Hope. We are the warriors who will battle for our children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, and memories.

We will pray over those questions, through the dark watches of the night, when doubt comes and children break, when adults fail them, when they push and push as hard against us as that day we delivered them into the world we. will. not. be broken. We may ache and see cracks tear through our hearts, but we will get up again tomorrow and load the clothes and the words that need to be said.

The hard words. The words that seem outside of easy explanation. We will find them.

And perhaps it will begin simply, with a change of channel and our choice in retailers.

{Updated to add: we weren’t watching at home or changing channels would have been the obvious go-to move.}

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