We need to do better and this is our proof - As a mother I should not be sitting here on the first day of school receiving message after message from frantic mom friends panicking as we send our children back to school. First days used to be fraught with anticipation and excitement, not fear and false faces of bravado. First days used to be social media newsfeeds full of smiling kiddos, new backpacks, and crisply pressed clothes. First days used to be pancake breakfasts, chalkboard signs, and excitement over freshly sharpened pencils and finding one’s name tag on a shiny clean desk.
Instead, this morning’s mantra consisted of a different sort of anticipation…"be strong for the kids," we told ourselves as we woke up to begin our day. Do not let them see your fear or your anxiety over their return to school today. Feign happiness, speak of fun times, new friends, and all the learning they will love, allay your child’s own fears of beginning or returning to school amidst this overwhelming apprehension of your own.
Seriously? How is this what our country has come to?
As moms we all joked, laughed, and shared the meme’s all summer about being home with the kids. The sibling fights, the constant snack requests, and the arguments over Netflix and tablets, but you know what I noticed this summer? The lack of commentary about how we all wish our children were back in school. Historically, the jokes are all about how we could not wait for the first day of the new school year, the hilarity of the viral video of the mom school shopping at Target for everything she will get the teachers for dealing with her kids, the moment of silence we all wish for with our morning coffee once the kids have been loaded on the bus. Those days are gone folks; they have gone up in flames with our very own naïveté in which we thought our kids were safe in school.
What a concept! Our children’s safety in school seems to have been nothing more than a false sense of security that was never real in the first place. The sacredness of those hallowed halls of education are now haunted by the voices of the children gone before ours, children who very well may have lost their lives in the one place they should have felt safe. School is supposed to be about education, learning, socialization, and better, brighter tomorrows.
Instead of fire drills and school bus safety, our kids now practice lock downs and active shooter drills. Rather than teaching songs, letters, and numbers, our teachers are forced to teach silence, building blockades, and hiding techniques. Can you honestly imagine trying to keep an entire classroom of 5-year-olds quiet because their lives literally depend on it?
We are now a country of scared mamas, contemplating home school and spending each and every day with knots in the pits of our collective stomachs as we wait for that 2 o’clock bell to ring...
For those moms who have vowed to sit in the parking lot all day long, we see you, for those who have to face their fears and go to work, we feel you, and for those who have decided to try home-schooling this year, we envy you. This is a time where all of us mothers (and fathers) must come together and pray for the strength to make it through this academic year.
We may wish for the simpler days where our biggest fear was that our child would be left out of the game on the playground or come home with a skinned knee we could fix with a kiss and a band-aid, but those days are long gone. This is a new era, this is the new America, this is the climate our predecessors have created and in which we must survive. Our country is intolerant, our country is hateful, and our country loves its guns more than its children.
Think about that as you send your children off to school. Think about what we can do to change this political purgatory in which we have somehow managed to so deeply entrench ourselves and our children. Think about the atmosphere we have created whereby it is literally accepted that armed gunman walk into schools, movie theaters, and concert halls taking hundreds of lives and within days we have moved on to the next great tragedy.
Knowing we need a change and doing something about it are two entirely different things. Decide whether you will live in fear or do what you can to get out and fight. We the people, the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of these children have created this situation and now we must fix it. Get out and vote in the upcoming local and national elections to give yourself a voice and be heard. Vote for the sake of this country, vote for the sake of our children, and vow to do better. We should not be fighting to merely survive, but rather to thrive...
And mamas, in the meantime, pray to whatever god you believe in to keep your baby safe, my baby safe, all of our babies’ safe, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY because I know I will be.
For more thoughts on parenting through these difficult times check out My Pledge to Peace and Positivity in the New Year.