The Aftershock

Most of my morning was spent in silence, my thoughts like a blank page. I played with our youngest, and her smiles and laughs helped some; but the shock of the news of 29 people dead in less than 24 hours could not be waved away with some laughter and smiles. These events that continue to occur uniquely in our country are so unbelievably heavy for us to bear. They’re too heavy. With them come fears and lasting anxiety with every venture into public, whether it be a mundane shopping trip, a church, or a crowded festival. Even though the odds are still in our favor to die of numerous other causes, the statistics are overwhelming–251 mass shootings in the 216 days of this year (according to USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/08/03/el-paso-walmart-shooting-250th-mass-shooting-this-year/1913486001/ ), 292 in 216 days (according to Quartz https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/).

 I don’t care about the difference in numbers. It’s still too damn many.

I needed to talk about it today but didn’t know how. I wanted to talk about the fears. I wanted to know how to raise my kids in this world. I couldn’t even get the words out. No one else seems to want to discuss it either. I posted a question in a SAHM’s forum about how individual families address these issues with their children, if at all, and my post wasn’t even approved for the public.

I get it. People don’t want it to get political. They want to go on living their lives. They don’t want to be brought down. Unfortunately, I don’t think that we as a public can go on with our heads in the sand. I don’t think that over 1,300 fatalities from mass shootings in 2019 is political either (Quartz, 2019). I think it’s a public health crisis. I think it’s a domestic terror crisis. There needs to be more action in our government in the name of public safety, but unfortunately public safety clashes with money, guns, and power. I could easily elaborate here, but this is not the place.

I’m here to navigate motherhood. I’m here to continue living life in the face of fear. That’s what we all have to do. Work still goes on. Life still happens in the tragic face of sudden death.

We can’t quit. 

It’s just difficult to continue at the same pace, venturing out fearlessly. There aren’t many readers here, but I will still send my questions out into the void. How do you do it? How do you show your kids that this world can be beautiful–that life can be beautiful–even when there are people sitting behind screens, seething, plotting to take all of it away from as many people as possible? 

My sister and mom are phenomenal role models. My mother, without any hesitation, responded to my question, “No. You can’t live your life in fear. Yes, it is a really scary world. But it’s also a beautiful world that we should enjoy.” My sister responded similarly but with decidedly more caution in regard to her children, “My plan is to point out that for all the scary things they hear about, there are so many more good things that happen everyday, and go with that. I mean, I don’t need them burdened with all that at their ages. I have to tell myself that too.”

So that’s what I will attempt as well. And that’s what I’m guessing we all should attempt. Yes, we should have plans in place for safety, but we should also keep showing our kids the beauty and pleasure we can experience in this world (while we are fighting with our government for a safer country). Even though we as parents may carry the burden of fear, we should let our children be free in their ability to experience life as it happens–wherever it happens–without a second thought.

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