Perspective Check

I don’t watch TV in the morning. I’m not one of those individuals who rolls out of bed and immediately grabs my phone to check my e-mail. I’m the opposite. I stay insulated in my world for as long as possible and do some spiritual prep work before meeting with the outside world. Nothing could have prevented me for the outside world today, though.

Yancy sent me a text mid morning to turn on the TV. And I did. Before I knew what was really going on my first thought was – “oh my God, another one…” It’s beyond sad that we have come to expect mass shootings. They no longer surprise us like they used to. Then I watched in horror with the rest of the country as I learned that it was an elementary school and twenty children had been shot and killed. Some mad man walked into a kindergarten classroom and started shooting.

I couldn’t watch. I turned off the TV and sat down on my couch. I cried. I really did and I felt like throwing up. I kept getting up and sitting back down. Getting up and sitting back down. I was having the conversation that I’m sure almost every parent in this country went through today. I wanted to march out my door to my son’s preschool and scoop him up. I wanted to take him out of there and never let him out of my sight again. It was extremely hard to talk myself out of it and ultimately, the only reason I didn’t was because I knew it would scare him.

And then I kept thinking about how I hadn’t colored with him before school. He had asked me, “mom, can you please color with me before school?” All I kept hearing was myself telling him that I needed to empty the dishwasher. And I didn’t say it nicely. I said it like emptying the dishwasher was the most important task in the world. Shame on me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the parents who lost their children. Most of you know, the Dr. Phil show that I participated in aired yesterday and so for the last 24 hours I’ve been inundated with hateful messages from people who don’t agree with me. Suddenly, all of it seemed like the most insignificant thing on the planet.

Here’s the deal: Who cares whether you breastfeed until your child is 6 months old or 60 years old? At least we have our children to feed.

Who cares if your child sleeps in your bed or sleeps in their crib? At least there is a child asleep in your house tonight.

Who cares if you wear your child strapped to your chest or push them in a stroller? At least you have a child to hold.

Who cares which school your child goes to and what kind of API scores it got last year? At least you have a child to send to school.

Who cares whether you set strict boundaries or no boundaries at all? At least you have a child to worry about.

There are families who will go to bed tonight with a loss that only other parents who have lost a child can even begin to understand. They will never get to engage in lengthy, heated arguments about what is best for their child again. Because their child is gone.

When I picked up Gus from school today, I did what all of you did. I hugged him so tightly that he said, “Ouch. Mom, you’re hurting me.” I’m pretty sure I won’t be letting go of him for a long time.

Most of you know I spend a ton of time talking about parenting and talking about our current generation of parents.  I’ve asked what’s wrong with our current generation of parents dozens of times. I’ve offered insight and evidence about what’s wrong with us and why we parent the way that we do since our style of parenting seems so dramatically different from those generations who have come before us.

Wanna know another big difference? We are the current generation of parents who live in a world where masked gun men commit acts of unimaginable terror. They storm into kindergarten classrooms and assassinate children.  They enter into movie theaters and open fire. They walk through college campuses and take aim at anyone in their way. That is the world we live in and I’m pretty sure it’s one that previous generations didn’t have to contend with. And just how do you go about dealing with that?

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11 Responses to Perspective Check

  1. Karen says:

    No matter what your stance is on any of those topics, no matter your religion or beliefs or political affiliations, this cuts to the very soul of every parent and grandparent who immediately imagined their own adored and loved little babies in those classrooms. My heart breaks and I hope so much that we can come together to support those families in their grief before people start using this as a platform to tout their beliefs on gun control or lack thereof. I just cry thinking of those moms and dads who will spend this Christmas in unimaginable grief. Thank you for your thoughts today Heather!

  2. Miranda says:

    This world does not need guns. End of story.

    • Colleen says:

      That’s a nice thought Miranda but the criminals and psychopaths have a way of getting around the *rules* the rest of us put in place. Like when abortion or alcohol was illegal, people still did and had those things but neither of those things made the innocent more vulnerable. Just my humble opinion. God bless and happy holidays to you and yours.

    • Laurie says:

      @Miranda,
      I just wish it was so easy as making another law. But this is actually a freedom that we have here in the U.S. Criminals find other weapons to use. I remember the tylenol poisonings and the pipe bombs. Talk to M.A.D.D. about the number of people killed every year by drunk drivers, especially those that are repeat offenders. Look at the domestic violence and rape victims that are seen as “asking for it”, which is disgusting. We are a violent society and that is what we need to be changing. And by the look of things, it starts young by bullying. Tonight we need to pray for these poor families that have lost the dearest thing, a child, a teacher, a loved one. And then we need to look behind a weapon and to our culture of violence that is supported in the movies, in violent music, in pornography, in domestic abuse, in child abuse. Too many are turning a blind eye to these problems because they are much harder to face and deal with. We just think we will feel safer without guns, but that would not remove our culture of violence. I am so sorry for those families and the whole town of Newton.

      • Lindsay says:

        “Criminals find other weapons to use.”

        None of them are as easy to get or as effective at killing as a gun. On I think the same day as this shooting, a madman attacked children at a school in China with a knife. They all lived.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Miranda.

  3. Lynette flynn says:

    well this unwarranted tragedy made cry too. i don’t have kids but i have nephews and nieces- i couldn’t even begin to know what these parents went thorugh. it was soo.upseting to me and there not even my children. but i’m a firm believer it takes a community to raise child. We should all watch over each other-instead of being engaged in our little worlds-instead of not paying attention to the dangers our children in America face out there. Not just watch over our kids but watch over other peoples kids too. i remember my neighbors kids had climbed on the roof and we’re jumping in the swimming pool,,obviously there parents weren’t home,, and ,i told them to get down from there right now..and they listened..and i was watching out for them,,when there parents weren’t around..a lot of people would just mind there own business,,but i keep an eye out if i see something that could be dangerous even if it’s not my kid i say something!! so that’s how i feel,,,this community will have to come together and mourn there loss,,and my continual prayers will go out to the parents,,,it was one of the mosts scarry things that happen next to 911. many blessings to all the parnets out there who are raising kids in this society! it can’t be easy and may my prayers go out to the parents and families who lost there children. blessings to all of america who is mourning this great loss.

  4. I am an old lady(70) with 3.5 gandchildren. Life has surely changed since I was a kid. We walked a mile to school and played in the street. We had few fears…we lived in a small town where everybody knew everybody. We did not play video games and we watched a tiny bit of monitored TV. Now kids play 40 hours of video games per week, possibly violent ones. Where are the parents? My grandkids have tight schedules and are active in sports. That keeps them so busy I am not sure they have time to relax…but they love it. Parents need to be sure of what their kids are up to..and they need to monitor the activities closely. We had video games for our kids, but they were pong and pacman. In sorrow, we watch the funerals …in reality we need to pay very close attention to our children.

  5. Violina23 says:

    My daughter turned 3 last week, and when she went to pre-school on Monday, she gave her teacher a big hug, and told her that she missed her over the weekend. Obviously, she didn’t know anything about Newtown. The teacher (a pretty new teacher, younger than myself) told me at pickup that after what happened it totally made her day.

    I think it’s the loss of innocence that scares me more than anything. That there are people out there who even conceive of doing things like this. That are so desensitized to the pain and suffering that they are causing to others. This just wasn’t even fathomable when I was a kid, we didn’t even have security guards or anything. It truly is a different world.

    We can work on improving laws, support for mental health, etc to make these kinds of things statistically more unlikely to occur, and that’s all good. But I think the best thing I can do is hope to raise a loving, caring, empathetic child who will always value the human lives of the people around her.

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