Senseless acts of violence. Senseless acts of violence against our children. This would make any mother lose her mind. We asked a handful of moms of school aged children to give us their honest reactions to the recent school shootings.
While all the moms were passionate about what could be done about this, we decided to focus this blog on the raw feelings and reactions from a mother/child perspective.
We both want to give sincere thanks to all the moms that participated. We know how hard it is to think about such hatred and our children. Those two words, hatred and children, they just don’t mix.
The blog is long, but we stress that you read it. You may find comfort in the words. You are not going through this alone. We can help each other.
Every time I drop off my six and three year old sons at school I think of the Sandy Hook shooting. Every single time. I chase that thought away, because kids have to go to school and we have to live our lives… and because I live in the safest town in Florida. I live in Parkland.
On February 14th I was in my office. My assistant came in, “Your ex husband called,” he said, “the kids are safe, he picked them up and took them home. There was a shooting in Parkland.”
Just like that it became a reality. My kids are safe, I told myself. School shootings happen.
We turned on the news and I saw the footage I have seen so many times before: children being escorted out of school in groups, police, helicopters, up close stills of people wailing… “More than 14 victims” already read the headline. My hopes that there were only one or two wounded instantly vanished.
“My next door neighbor’s daughter is still missing.” texted my law partner at 6 p.m. I pushed the thought away.
I drove home late that night to a quiet, peaceful neighborhood that I always come home to. Everything seemed just as it always is; the moon was shining through the beautiful, green tunnel of oaks on my street. My partner’s neighbor was dead and I did not know which one of the parents in my neighborhood lost their child today.
Oh, and did I mention that I moved to Parkland because a six year old boy was killed in a drive-by shooting on the street where I lived before?
– Irina is mom to a 6 and 3 year old
I take my kids to school every morning and as they walk in, I take inventory of what they are wearing and mentally record the last thing I say to them. I obsess about whether I kissed them goodbye or if I was grouchy that morning because we were running late. Will this be the last morning I yell, “Tie your shoes faster!!”? How many times did I tell them I love them? I live close to the school, so when I hear sirens during the day, my heart sinks an inch. Every afternoon at pick up, I feel a sense of relief that my kids have returned, unharmed, from this war. After Sandy Hook, school drop-off was never the same for me–it never will be. It’s a sad reality, but I know that not enough is being done to stop these tragedies, so the chance that they will reoccur is inevitable. It doesn’t take long before I turn on the news and see another report of a school shooting. It’s maddening.
My hope is that we can start being proactive and making common sense steps toward a solution. I hope that families will slow down, love their kids more and really get to know the people they are becoming. I hope that the village will come together for the kids who don’t have enough love and support and shepherd them. I hope that people who are on the fringe will get the help they need. I hope that one day I can send my kids to school without fearing the worst, but we have a lot of work to do before then.
– Cat is mom to a 11 and eight year old
My heart breaks for the lives touched by these school shootings. And not just for the victims but for the shooters who are just kids themselves, for whom life has failed so badly that they feel this kind of destruction and violence is their only choice. The scariest part about the school shootings is that we as moms have so little control in the situation. We send the most important parts of ourselves off to a place every day where we expect them to be largely safe and that false security has been broken. We cannot go to school with them to protect them. It can be a terrifying and crippling prospect, if you let yourself give into the fear.
My faith in God is a foundation for me and I do my very best not to let fear control my reactions to these situations. I pray for protection over my two boys in the morning and truly trust that God has them in his hands. This is not a bullet proof vest. Bad things happen in our world every day to good and bad people. And our children face so many dangers. My job as a mother is to raise them with the strength to face these challenges not to avoid them. To be smart in their choices and to know when fear is a warning of a situation they should avoid versus an irrational fear trying to control their life. I have had honest conversations with my sons about the school shootings and some of their responses have truly saddened me that they have to face this. I tell them they should not be afraid to go to school but should be aware and if they see or hear something with a student to make a staff person aware.
There are a lot of politics going on behind this whole issue and I am not convinced there is an easy answer. One thing I do know is that we as mom’s can teach our children how to reach out to other kids in love, to not be judgmental, to see the kid sitting alone at lunch and invite them to join them. We ourselves can do things to bring hope to kids in our community. One of the mom’s in our circle, started a food pantry at the school for our junior high and high school students who often were going hungry. What a simple way to show these kids who are suffering that they are not forgotten.
I choose not to let fear rule in my home and I have done my best to help my children live their life the same way.
– Nikki is mom to a 14 and 11 year old
I wish I had some better words. I think we always worry about our children and this amplifies that worry and makes normal parental concern incredibly heightened. With good reason. People now choose high schools the way they once chose colleges. Another layer to that choice is, where will my child be safe?
– Ann is mom a 12 year old
There is no doubt that it is a different world we live in from the time I was in high school. School Shootings, Lockdown Drills, Lockdowns… these terms did not even exist in the mid-nineties. Now, they are terms we hear way too often. I have dropped my children off at school every day for the better part of 19 years never really thinking that after I say “I Love You & Have a Good Day” that something or someone could take them away from me, forever. The increase in frequency of these mass school shootings is terrifying, whether you are a parent or not. I think it forces us to ask ourselves “How”, how do we stop this from happening again?! Innocent children are losing their lives by simply attending school… and it has to stop!
My two oldest children are now done with high school but I still have two little ones that will be attending school in a few years, I hope and pray for change.
– Kristin is mother to a 21, 17, 21 month twins and Stepmother to 18 and 16 year old
As mothers we receive all kinds of advice. From the beginning of pregnancy people tell you which car seat they loved, which bouncy seat kept their children occupied the longest, “use organic” “cloth diapers are better for the environment” “my baby never slept in bed with me” “don’t start kindergarten that early” etc… In this new era of school shootings, in-your-face violence and social media, no one has advice to give because we are on the front lines. We are the moms who must navigate this gauntlet and still try and preserve the innocence of our children.
My school district is considered to be one of the best in the state, we live in a relatively upper middle class community so who would have ever thought I’d be receiving at least 2 emails per week regarding teens making threats and being arrested from our high schools. Just last week a 7th grader, yes I said 7th grader, was detained due to a threat of gun violence in MY sons middle school. He is 13 and in the 8th grade. No advice I was ever given could have prepared me for that moment. It was terrifying, I drove by the school 5 times that day and kept in contact with my son. He said he never felt scared or worried, I believed him but I was a wreck. I canceled my plans for the day so I could keep driving past the school and be close in case I heard sirens. NO ONE should have to go through that.
We have been having conversations about gun violence and shootings for quite a few years now, I believe in an open line of communication about any and everything. He knows what to do during a lockdown drill, knows what to do if he hears someone make a threat and what to do if he hears of someone having a weapon in school. I still can’t believe that I actually have to talk about these things with my teenager. I hate having to tell him how sorry I am that this is the world he is growing up in and that for once, mom doesn’t have an answer.
I am thankful for the way I was raised and I am just trying my best to mirror how my parents raised me. KNOW what your child is doing (social media included). KNOW who their friends and their parents are. KNOW where they are when they are not home. TALK to your children, HAVE the tough conversations, TELL your children they are loved, RAISE them so they know they can talk to you about anything. SPEND time with them, quality time. And if you see your child’s friend struggling, DO something about it.
I don’t have any answers or solutions for this horrible social emergency. I guess my contribution is to do my best to raise a responsible, respectful, kind hearted young man who will hopefully set a good example and be a positive influence on his peers.
– Katie is mother to 13 year old
I can’t even imagine what pain a family must feel after the loss of a child. Our children are being raised in a very different time than we were. I never feared going to school, and thankfully, my children do not either (yet) as we choose to shield them from the information of recent shootings.
As a teacher it has changed me as I routinely consider the possibilities of what if. Where would we go? Would we hide in a corner or prepare to throw desks? I pray daily for the safety of my children and my students and pray that I will never be faced with such decisions.
– Emily is mother to a 11, 8 and 6 year old
Again, thank you to the mothers above for giving their heartfelt comments. We appreciate all of you!