I remember when I heard the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was just a few months into my son’s first year of elementary school, and I had just given birth to his baby brother, who was lying asleep on my chest.
As my Facebook feed exploded with the horrifying news, I began to weep. My baby was sleeping on me; he was so innocent and pure. He had no idea what was possible, how vulnerable children are, how much evil lurked in the dark shadows of the world.
Every mother who heard of the Sandy Hook shooting wept as though it were her own child who had been shot and killed, and I was no exception. As I read the story, I pictured my own son’s school — his classroom, his desk, his coat closet, his teacher, his sweet, tiny face. It destroyed me, and when I went to pick him up that afternoon, almost every mother I saw was crying too.
We cried for the children who had died that day. We cried because our children were OK. And we cried because we knew how easily the same fate could have befallen them.
To say I have felt vulnerable since becoming a mother is an understatement. I have always been an anxious person. Even before children, I was preoccupied with the idea of horrific tragedies happening to those whom I loved. Life always had a certain impermanence to it for me.
But after Sandy Hook, my worries didn’t just occupy the small bubble of my world — the real-life accidents that might happen to my children, illnesses they could contract, whether they might fall off the jungle gym and crack their heads open. No, now I had to worry about things that were far bigger than that. If a roomful of children could be killed while sitting in their classroom, what was next?
I don’t want to sound too morose, but the truth is that ever since Sandy Hook, the world seems like a much darker place, especially for children.
Just a few days ago, I opened up my computer to see that two news stories were trending about children who had been shot and killed inside their own homes just because no one had taken the time to secure their family’s guns. And soon after that, a story about a man who groped a 13-year-old unaccompanied minor on an American Airlines flight.
Sick, sick, sick. That’s how I feel all the time about what is happening in our world, and what I imagine could happen to my own children.
Every day, the news is filled with stories of children who have been hurt, wronged, frightened, or killed. These stories upset me so deeply — really rattle me to the bone — and I probably should just not read them as often as I do. They do nothing but increase my already ever-present anxiety, and sometimes upset me so much that I consider never letting my children leave the house.
And yet, I feel as though I need to witness it all. I need to know what is out there. And I need to brainstorm with my family, my fellow parents, and my elected officials how on earth to make all of it stop. I believe that humans are truly good at their core, but lately it seems that more and more of my fellow humans have become unhinged, angry, spewing the worst kind of hate — with children in the crossfire.
And despite everything, I go on. We all do. We have no choice but to wipe away our tears, and get ourselves together so we can be good, even-tempered, loving, supportive parents to our kids. But it sure is hard, considering the state of our world right now. It really is.
The news has turned me into a total and complete wreck. I am heartbroken and sick. And I hope to god that things settle down soon. Our children’s futures depend on the world becoming a kinder, gentler, safer place.