There is no way that I can eloquently put into words how I felt/feel after the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, devastating tragedy in Connecticut last week. I have kids that go to school every day. They take forever in the morning to get dressed and pack their bags and grab their lunches and remember their vitamins, and it drives me crazy five days a week, week in and week out. Then, each and every day after school, there is an 'issue.' Too much homework. They forgot a snack. Recess was cut short. There was a mean substitute, or perhaps they were not able to sit where they wanted at lunch. All of these complaints seem justified when you are 9 and 11 years old. I brace myself each afternoon for the fallout of having to sit for eight hours and behave and avoid detention, so all the raw behaviors can appear at home. Earlier last week, I probably would have said that this cycle was enough to do me in.
That was before it became a reality that kids go off to school, a place we certainly take for granted as being safe and secure, and may not come home because they were killed with a semi-automatic weapon. I mean, I used to be afraid of the stomach flu and lice when my boys went to school. Right about now, I would give anything for a bad virus to be my worst fear because no matter how you cut it, every parent in America is not fully there today while their children are at school. Rather, I would bet on the fact that the majority of parents are consumed with fear, devastation and guilt. My heart wrenches for the parents who have gifts hidden in their closets for Christmas but no kids to give them too anymore. Instead of last-minute holiday shopping, 20 families are planning funerals. I can't even make sense of that. Funerals.
As moms and dads, we all reacted differently as the events of the mass shooting in Connecticut unfolded. Some cried, some prayed, others took a political stand on gun control, while others advocated for increased services for mental illnesses. No matter what your initial instinct was upon hearing that 20 innocent children and six more adults lost their lives inside the walls of a school, at the root was fear, pain and confusion. As a nation of parents. we must agree on this. Who could not be hurt or perplexed by what happened?
I don't know how to make it go away. No one does. At a time of year that is mainly focused on some type of religious-based holiday, candles, lights and magical reindeer, there is no silver lining in what happened. Just the cold harsh reality that putting your child on a school bus or walking them down the street to the neighborhood school is not safe anymore. For a period of time, I [We] forgot about online predators and scary people lurking around the mall, and instead re-evaluated that the one place where we send our kids to learn, socialize,and grow up is not without risk. And, that teacher that you may or may not think is challenging your child is the person responsible for putting their very own life on the line if madness rears its ugly face.
This holiday season, the flame is a bit dampened for me and perhaps -- you? We can squeeze our own kids and dream of peeking in their lunchroom to check on their safety, but that will not bring back the 20 kids who are now in heaven. I don't usually get all misty-eyed about heaven and the afterlife, but I must tell myself those children are in a magical place. They must be. And, those teachers -- the ones that whispered 'I love you" to kids and held them close and quiet --are angels.
I don't have answer on how to put the spark back in the holidays. I am just going to try for a little more love, kindness and understanding. I don't know what else to do because there are so many hours left in the school day and I can't take it.
How are you managing today?
Follow Rachel Blaufeld on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rachelblaufeld