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?