Putting On A Brave Face, It's Just What Mothers Do

by Melissa L. Fenton
IvanJekic / Getty Images

Mothers, put on your brave face because you need it now more than ever.

In 1999, two teenage boys walked into a Colorado high school and shot and killed 13 fellow students. I had a 1-year-old baby at the time, and I held him thinking, How will I ever let him out of my arms? I will, and I did. I put on my brave face and started the journey of pushing him out into the world.

It’s just what mothers do.

On September 11, 2001, I had a two kids 3 and under. I stood frozen in my kitchen weeping and watching the events unfold — staring down at the kids latched onto my legs and thinking, What kind of world did I bring kids into?

Brave face on again.

It’s just what mothers do.

In 2012 at an elementary school in Connecticut, 26 lives perished. I also had a first-grader at the time, and to let him march out the door the next day and go to school took every ounce of courage I had, but I did it.

It’s just what mothers do.

A movie theater shooting? Now how do I never let my teens go to movies again? Brave face, it was on again.

It’s just what mothers do.

Virginia Tech 2007, a college campus and another 32 victims. Will I be able to leave my baby at college one day? I did. And so do thousands of other mothers every year, standing bravely at dorm curbs, at boot camps and basic training sites, at fire and police academy schools. We leave them there out in the big bad world, all with our brave face on.

It’s just what mothers do.

My brave face is very, very tired. It’s well-worn and weary, anxiously distraught, yet always available. But even though it gets harder and harder to put on every day, it’s even more necessary now.

I can’t keep my kids under my roof and sheltered. I can’t wilt under the news of tragedy and hopelessness, and suffocate under a blanket of what-ifs and constant worry. I cannot guarantee my children a happy and 100% safe future — that is just ridiculous. But what I can guarantee is that I will keep putting my brave face on for them, so when they walk out the front door everyday, it’s the last thing they see.

And maybe, just maybe, they will go out into the world remembering what courage and faith looks like, and be reminded that life is for living, not hiding.

Brave faces.

Because that’s just what mothers do.