We protect our children before they are even born. We eat right. We watch our weight: can’t gain too much, bad for the baby. We take vitamins: good for the baby. We get monthly, and then weekly, checkups. We get ultrasounds. We listen to the heartbeat. We count kicks. We sleep on our sides, not on our backs. We are mindful of medicines we take, watchful of their interactions with the placenta. We stay away from raw, unpasteurized, and the possibly undercooked. We choose unmedicated births, or midwives, or homebirths, or hospital births. We push safely and we nurture. We cry.
We breastfeed. We find the most nutritional formula. Fortified cereals. We check the ratings for car seat safety. We learn proper restrain techniques. We adjust the shoulder pads, we tighten the harness. We buy non-toxic toys, sippy cups, pacifiers. We buy organic food. We offer vegetables and fruit. We research pesticides. We learn about BPA. We cut up grapes, lengthwise not widthwise. We don’t give honey. We learn CPR. We mash solids. We watch for allergies.
We check fire alarms. We buy safe toys. We check for recalls. We vaccinate. We don’t use bumpers, or pillows, or blankets. We don’t leave them on the changing table. We fasten them in high chairs. We drive carefully. We lather them with sunblock. We check the temperature of the water. We purchase rashguards. We get wellness checkups. We buy baby monitors.
We baby-proof the house. We cover outlets and sharp edges. We hold their hands. We get them helmets. We hide the knives, the cords, the detergent pods. We follow them on playgrounds. We tend to their cuts and bruises. We lose sleep over colds.
We hold them close. We fight off scary monsters. We read stories of empowerment. We read parenting books. We teach them how to navigate their world. We speak to them about dangers. We put them in good schools. We dress them for the weather. We keep them warm. We keep them cool. We keep them hydrated. We comfort them when they cry, when they are scared, when they are worried.
We do everything within our power to keep them safe. We protect them.
And then, we send them off to school. And that is when our reach ends.
And the someone brings a gun to school. And that is when we cannot protect our children. Our reach ends.
The politicians will never protect us. They will never regulate guns. They will never provide adequate mental health care. It’s up to us. So, what do we do when our reach ends? Do we stop trying?