We were running late for the bus this morning. Permission slips were signed and lunches were packed. Then cereal was spilled and knees were scraped. I struggled to find four matching pairs of shoes and wriggle them onto four restless feet (thankfully, the big boys can put on their own shoes!) It was a typical morning, but we were running late nonetheless. We ambled down the street, as we do, and I heard the bus’ distinct rumble. The optimist in me said we’d make it, but as we rounded the corner I caught a glimpse of the orange blur and knew we were too late. I turned all of the kids around and said, “We missed it. Let’s go back and get the car.”
As we walked back, I tried to mentally reschedule my morning and figure out how I was going to get everything done—I hadn’t factored in a drop off to both boys’ schools. I was waiting for an important email that needed an answer right away. I didn’t have time to drive the kids to school.
I shuffled the kids into their car seats, started the engine for air conditioning and ran back inside to check my email one last time. I was sitting at the desk for about 30 seconds when Charlie came inside.
“Mom! Finn doesn’t listen!”
I was stressed and impatient. I barked back, “Charlie! I don’t want to hear it!”
He implored, “He didn’t want to play, so he just turned away… he said I was being mean and now he’s getting the babies to call me a bully…”
“CHARLIE! I SAID I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!”
He stormed off grumbling something under his breath.
I immediately felt guilty. Not just because I am always on a quest to stop yelling at them, but because it was a school day and who knew if this could be the day…
No matter how stressful our morning, I always make sure I kiss them goodbye and say “I love you.” I try to send them off to school on a positive note. Not because I’m Mary Poppins or because I think “happy kids do better on tests.” But because just before they get on the bus each day I think to myself, “What if this were the last time I see them?”
“What if the last conversation I had with them was one I’d rather take back?”
It may sound morbid, but any parent who has been alive since Columbine can’t help but wonder… Is this the day a crazy person might unload a magazine of bullets into a classroom of innocent children?
Yesterday, there was another school shooting. I watched the story on the Today Show this morning while the kids got ready for school. I did what I often do when there is disturbing news; I create a human shield in front of the TV while hovering near the speaker with the volume on 2. It was heart wrenching, yet oh so commonplace. This time it happened in Portland, Oregon and, according to NBC news, it was the 74th school shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook. The shooting in Portland is the fourth school shooting in 18 days. Three weeks ago, after the shooting at University of California, Richard Martinez, father of slain student Christopher made an impassioned plea:
“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does. His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop?”
I am both fearful and ashamed to live in this world. I shouldn’t have to worry at the bus stop if this may be my last moments with my child. Yet, it’s a thought that occurs to me every day. I should be worried about classroom bullies and getting picked for the kickball team at recess, not getting shot while they play in the schoolyard.
This isn’t about bigger walls or more security or having an armed policeman at the door. It’s not even about the mental health crisis in this country, although the lack of support for our country’s weakest and most vulnerable is reprehensible. It’s about the guns. High powered guns and mass amounts of ammunition are far too accessible in this country. Get rid of the guns. There is no excuse.
I am enraged by the gun lovers in this country who contend that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Well, I’d take my chances with a crazy person and sling shot and a pile of rocks over a high-powered, semi automatic rifle.
Shouldn’t a child’s right to live supersede the right to bear arms? Obviously, our Congress doesn’t think so. Even in the light of Sandy Hook, we can’t seem to pass effective gun reform legislation and it is simply appalling.
When will you take a stand? When it happens to someone you love? In your own backyard?
No matter where you stand on the issue of gun reform, can’t we all agree that NOT ONE MORE child deserves to die?
If you’d like to be a part of the movements to make gun reform a priority in Congress, please visit and support these websites:
Moms Demand Action “Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to change laws regarding drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to build support for common-sense gun legislation. The nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers is demanding new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our children and families.”
Sandy Hook Promise “Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, non-profit organization led by community members and several parents and spouses who lost loved ones in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.”
Americans for Resposible Solutions (Gabby Giffords’ Political Action Committee) “With Americans for Responsible Solutions and likeminded friends engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and supporting lawmakers willing to take a stand for responsible policies, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby and their dangerously deep pockets.”
Everytown.org #NotOneMore Richard Martinez’s postcard campaign powered by Everytown (a subsidiary of Moms Demand Action). Sign it and empower his voice: “Today, I’m going to ask every person I can find to send a postcard to every politician they can think of with three words on it: Not One More. People are looking for something to do. I’m asking people to stand up for something. Enough is enough.”