I’ve wanted to share this post for a long time. If only you knew how long it sat in my drafts (almost two months to be exact). To be honest, I’ve been a little nervous to talk about this. Please know before you continue reading that my goal is to never offend anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable. I simply want to share how the recent school shootings have affected me, my family, and my outlook on life in hopes that someone else can relate or perhaps even see things from a different perspective. I want to share every single emotion that I have felt and continue to feel.
Scared. Sad. Confused. Hopeless. Worried… but yet, grateful.
Grateful? Well yes, but before you write me off as being some heartless horrible person. Please, let me explain…
My Daughter’s Fear
A few weekends ago my daughter crawled into bed with me. Nothing unusual, as she normally does this when she first wakes up. What was unusual was the conversation that followed.
I remember twisting her curly hair around my finger as we cuddled and chatted about what we would do that day. The weather was gorgeous and we wanted to go outside and soak up the sun.
For some reason though, she wasn’t as talkative as she normally is (she usually has a very strong opinion on our weekend activities). When I asked her if something was bothering her, she told me that she didn’t want to go back to school – which totally caught me off guard. For most kids, this might seem normal; but if you know my daughter, then you know how much she LOVES school. When I asked her why she didn’t want to go back, she told me that she’s been having bad dreams about code reds at school. Apparently, the school has been conducting code red drills which have left my daughter terrified of a real code red, like the ones on the news.
(For those of you who may not know, a code red means that there is danger in or near the school grounds. During the drills, the teachers and students practice the protective action that will be taken in the case that real code red could occur.)
She went on to describe the details of her dream. I won’t give out specifics, but they were vivid and petrifying – especially for an 8-year-old girl.
A Mother’s Reaction
This broke my heart, as I assume it would for any mother to hear. Up until this time, I hadn’t spoken to my daughter about the recent school shootings. I had no idea they were conducting code reds at school. And I had no idea that this was something she feared.
All I could do was hug her because everything I wanted to say in that initial moment would have been a lie. I wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t worry about those things. But how could I, when I was worried? I wanted to tell her she had no reason to be scared. But how could I, when I was scared? I wanted to tell her that a code red would never happen at her school. But how could I, when I couldn’t guarantee it?
It’s a scary feeling for a mother or any parent for that matter. We send our children off to school Monday through Friday, for 7 plus hours a day, to gain the education they need to be successful in this world. We trust that they are in the hands of good people. We trust that they are protected. That they are a cared for. And that while we aren’t present – their basic needs are met. But unfortunately, that isn’t the reality anymore.
The comfort we once had of sending our children to school, isn’t so comfortable anymore. When my daughter gets out of the car and walks through those school doors, I can’t help but hope that this isn’t the last time I get to see her. I’ve made it a point to remember everything about her – from the color of the bow in her hair down to which mismatching socks she picked out. My heart skips a few beats if I happen to see the school’s phone number pop up on my caller id; only to find out it’s just a reminder about spring pictures. When I pick up her up from school, a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders and I’m just so grateful she’s back in my care. Did you catch that? Grateful.
Like I said, it’s a scary feeling. But you know what’s even scarier? That feeling being your reality.
There are mothers who don’t have a child that walks into school anymore.
There are mothers who are only left with the memory of what their child wore to school that day.
There are mothers who don’t get phone calls from the school anymore.
And there are mothers who don’t have a child to pick up from school anymore.
These are the mothers who lost their children in the one place that was supposed to help them prepare for the future. But instead, it was the place where their future ended.
I don’t know what it’s like to be that mother. I can only imagine. The thought of being in their shoes brings an overwhelming number of tears to my eyes and a stinging pain that makes my whole body go numb. But then I am grateful that it’s just a thought that I can make go away. But there are mother’s out there who can’t – because the thought has become their reality and my whole heart goes out to them. If you are one of those moms, I am so, so sorry.
What’s The Solution?
I’ve seen countless articles and opinions in response to the school shootings. Some people believe we should strengthen our gun laws, while others are against it. Some people think the teachers and staff should be armed, while others think that’ll do more harm than good. Some people think we need to increase school security, while others think that will only work temporarily. It seems for every proposed solution, there is a counterclaim which makes solving this matter that much more difficult.
But this isn’t one of those articles. I tried so hard to come up with a solution that I could write about and share with the world. A solution that made sense and that I wholeheartedly agreed with… but the truth is I couldn’t. The thoughts of a school shooting haunt my mind more than I’d like to admit. I often find myself creating scenarios in my head of how easy it is for someone to cause havoc in the school. And even when I pretend the above solutions have taken place – the what-ifs still exist. Maybe that’s the mother in me. Or maybe that’s just reality…
I don’t have the answer. I won’t pretend to. We live in a world where the word school and shooting are often used in the same sentence. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
I send my daughter off to school every day on a leap of faith and a whole lot of prayer. And just recently, I’ve begun to ask God to replace every negative thought I have about a potential school shooting with a feeling of positivity. I want to share with you what He told me.
Be grateful to have a daughter to wake up at 6:00 am, even on the days you struggle to get out the door; because there’s a mom out there who doesn’t have a child to wake up anymore.
Be grateful to have a daughter to drop off and pick up from school, even on the days the traffic drives you crazy; because there’s a mom who got that taken from her.
Be grateful to have a daughter who needs help with homework, even though sometimes it gets stressful; because there’s a mom out there who is praying for another math problem to help solve.
Be grateful for a daughter that comes home with mounds of paperwork for you to sign; because there’s a mom wishing there was a school paper that needed her signature.
Be grateful for your children whose prom and graduation day you can still look forward to; because there’s a mom out there who will never get to experience it.
Lastly, He reminded me of Matthew 6:25-34. More specifically, verse 27.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
The Thief of Peace
Constantly worrying adds nothing. Instead, it takes away from the hours, the minutes, and the seconds that we have left in life. The school shootings are terrible, there is no doubt about it. I stand in agreement with every other person that something needs to be done to stop these tragedies from happening to our children. As mothers, it’s so natural for us to worry. But staying worried and living that way – will only make us miserable and disrupt our peace.
It’s easy to get lost in the day to day routine of waking up, dropping our kids off at school, working, picking them up, and repeating. But one thing these school shootings have reminded me of is that we might not get a chance to repeat. One of those victims could have been my daughter. Because what happens when our children walk through those school doors, unfortunately, is out of our hands. Right now is all we have.
Mamas, let us not allow our worries to rob us of our time. Instead, let’s hug our kids a little bit longer. Let’s shower them with a couple extra kisses. Let’s tell them we love them a few more times and remind them of how grateful we are for them. And let’s thank God a hell of a lot more for bringing our children home safe and sound. Because there is nothing in this world a mother is more grateful for than for another opportunity to love on her babies.