I don’t even know where to start.
I wasn’t even sure I should write a post about the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Because I think that whatever I write will only express a sliver of the grief I am feeling. A tiny amount of the anger. And none of the fear.
Shootings seem to be commonplace anymore. Yet I remember being in the senior wing of the Alpha Chi house at IU when Columbine happened, and I remember watching the coverage with my roommates. It was the first time I had seen anything like that. The first time it ever even entered into my consciousness that something like that could happen at all. All I could think about was the kids and how scared they must be.
But now I’m a mom. Of small kids. And I’m not saying that Columbine or any other shooting is at all LESS tragic than this. But … I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just different for me this time.
I have been feeling sick to my stomach because all I can do is imagine various scenarios that must have been happening at Sandy Hook. All I can think about are the moments in that Kindergarten classroom – the sounds of those small children. All I can think about is what those innocent babies – the same age as my sweet, sweet niece Natalie – must have experienced. All I can think about are the siblings of those children who must have been in other classrooms of the school. All I can think about are the hours that must have seemed like days to the parents waiting in line to pick up their children.
And the parents who no longer were able to pick up their children. The fact that those children probably already have wrapped Christmas presents under the tree. That the lives of those families are forever empty, and their hearts are forever broken.
Derrick keeps getting upset with me because I am watching coverage of it on the news (or, rather, have the news paused for hours at a time because I refuse to have it on while the girls are in the room). But, I tried to explain to him it’s not that I WANT to watch it. It’s that I feel like I have to. I feel like burying my head in the sand and pretending like it didn’t happen would be a grave disservice to the people who lost their lives, and to the parents who lost their babies.
And I feel like ignoring it is what got us into this mess in the first place. We cannot keep pretending that mental illness is a taboo topic. Or pretending that the we don’t recognize when someone we love is on the precipice of a meltdown. Or looking the other way when someone is sick and in need of help, even if we don’t know what to do.
We cannot keep pretending that it is okay for people NOT in the military or law enforcement to own automatic weapons and carry guns into public places. I understand you want to hunt animals with your rifle. Please do that in the woods, which are far away from my home.
When will people understand we are not trying to take away their rights? We are trying to PROTECT OUR FAMILIES. I am trying to protect my children.
It is not fair that I am scared all of the time. Not “typical” parent fears: that my child will get lost, that my child will make poor decisions, that my child will fail, that my child will have her heart broken. We now have to fear that our children’s lives are no longer safe. Not in the company of their protectors – their parents and families. Not in any public place. Not even in school, the first place we ever send our children out ‘alone’ into the world.
This is an unexpected, and upsetting, part of parenthood. A part that generations past did not even fathom would ever exist. Our generation of parents are unprepared for this. We were not told this would be part of the deal. Those of you who know me know that I am an anxious person by nature. I am literally a medicated person to help control this anxiety. When Paige was born, I was scared to take her out of the house. I was scared of everything from slipping on the ice while holding her to hurting her when I gave her a bath.
Those fears have faded, and instead I am now scared every time I take my children into a crowded place. My stomach knots when we walk into a mall, and it is difficult to enjoy things like “Christmas at the Zoo,” because in the back of my mind I’m wondering if something horrible will happen.
I know this post is rambling, and I know it is far from uplifting. I promise a lighthearted, Christmasy post soon – maybe later today if I can get my act together. But this blog also serves as my own personal journal sometimes … mostly because the people I spend my days with are of the toddler/preschooler persuasion, and they don’t “get me” all the time.
I woke them both up from deep sleeps during their naps on Friday. I squeezed them tightly as my tears fell onto their sweet-smelling heads. Neither of them even noticed I was crying (which, actually, is a bit concerning, right?). I just kept telling them how much I loved them. So, so very much. That they are my entire life, and that nothing else in the world will EVER matter to me as much as they do.
Then, after we decided to head into the basement and play on the slide, Paige took my face in her hands. She looked at me with those big eyes and said in her sweet, raspy voice, “Mommy, I love you so much it breaks my heart.”
Oh, sweet Paige. If you only knew.