Holding My Heart

I walked my boys to the bus stop and used a kindergarten field trip to talk about school shootings and gun violence. My 5 year old was attending a play today outside school grounds. Me: Remember boys whether on the bus, in the theater or classroom listen to your teachers and drivers—they know what to do and will keep you safe if an emergency happens. The lock down drills at school are meant to keep you safe so pay attention and follow directions, it’s not for fun. [they nod, hop on bus and I hold one hand over my heart, the other wipes inevitable mama tears]

What? I’ve no idea what I’m saying, just blubbering really and hoping something I convey sticks, some semblance of compliant behavior might save their lives. But none of us have the answers and if we do it seems we are keeping real solutions to ourselves, within our tiny compartmentalized small groups. I mostly witness all talk and nasty banter, no action, no change.

Let me be clear I’m not against hunting for sport, or even protecting your personal property and loved ones. My cousins and uncle are avid hunters. They are loving and good citizens. I have close friends who carry. They are loving and good citizens. None of them own, carry or conceal weapons to destroy multiple human lives.

The state of mental health care and the access to appropriate intervention and treatment are tragic. I hear this from social workers, hospital staff, clergy and dear friends with mothers and children in desperate need of services and attention. I have no answers, only questions and a bewildered sense of anxiety and fear.

I can keep pretending there is nothing I can do, no space for me to stand up or speak out. But what do I tell my boys? How can I look them in the eye and say mama is doing everything she can to keep you safe? I was even hesitant to email our school principal. I kept thinking it wasn’t my place, for months I was uncomfortable with the easy access into our elementary schools. I don’t have a chance to attend school board meetings or volunteer for the PTO much so what does my voice matter? It matters because I’m a mom in 2018. I have three little boys who hold their parents to a high standard, like most kids in most decades—they believe we can keep them safe. Some tragedies, accidents, diseases and circumstances cannot be changed but if you have any ounce of energy to speak up and act rationally with respect and dignity to others and their varying opinions then please do.

I finally wrote to the principal and spoke my peace. I will research more ways I can ask the right questions and dive deeper into possible solutions, realistic solutions that won’t tear down amendment rights to those acting civilly, but instead take guns out of the wrong hands and seek solace and resources for the mentally ill. It can never all be prevented, it can never all be ok and we can never bring back the innocent victims but we certainly cannot continue to sit idly, to witness another and another unspeakable event.

I don’t have great ideas, I’m not versed in the legislative agendas and propaganda at all. I only speak from a mother’s place. The place I hold my heart all day, every hour and every minute my kids are off at school, out of my reach, away from my embrace and mama bear instincts. I cannot be with them every second, every day and even if I could I might not be able to protect them fully—I know this is impossible. But I would love to see a day I send them on that big yellow bus and don’t hold my very breath every moment they are gone, a day I don’t clutch my heart and pray it doesn’t break. Please God don’t let it break today. My friends and I were reminiscing today of simpler times, when we only knew of tornado and fire drills. Pathetic. We are now praying for just a tornado or fire, please let it be that and not this again.

Our church is holding small group studies for the Lenten season. I began exploring our workbook and the word community got my attention. The authors suggest, “Unless we are exchanging deeply committed levels of love with a few people, we will die slowly on the inside. This is precisely why so many people feel almost nothing at all. If we don’t learn to exchange love with family and friends, we will eventually grow numb and no longer believe love is even a possibility.” If we are not in community with others, if we are not loving and feeling loved we are losing the human condition, humanity is not winning. Numbness and personal pain is taking charge.

Perhaps small gestures to bring community to those oppressed, marginalized, left out, depressed and depleted can make big changes. If you see sad, vacant eyes bring love and life—extend your arms wide, open your heart and repeat. What if we all started to build a better community? What if we all started to feel responsible for the community we behold? What if? We witness over and over what if not. When are we ready to start and make these senseless acts STOP?


Getting Started:

Resources from my wonderful mama bear friend Aimee. She researches, she does her homework. She is fighting. Join her. Start today.

Help End Gun Violence: https://everytown.org/

Moms Demand Action: https://momsdemandaction.org/