I was driving my five-year-old daughter to dance class last week when my phone first alerted me of the news of an active school shooter in Texas.
Upon seeing the initial headline, I felt a wave of nausea but I didn’t have time to really read into the story until my daughter was settled into class. Over the next 45 minutes, I watched as the story evolved, and the number of deaths quickly increased, all while my little girl twirled around a dance studio blissfully unaware of the horror unfolding in a small town in Texas.
When her class was over, I was waiting for her at the door as she came out, bouncing and smiling, and running into my arms. I wrapped her in a way-too-tight hug and she giggled, not knowing that I was unsuccessfully trying to fight back tears. I took a look around me, aware that I was crying in public, and I saw more than a dozen fellow parents doing the same, and we all gave each other knowing looks as we each did our best to hold it together for the sake of our kids’ innocence.
This is what it is to be a parent in the United States.
Now, a week later, my despair hasn’t subsided, and my white-hot rage has only intensified. I just cannot wrap my mind around how the same people who boldly declare that “all lives matter” and who are willing to throw a person in jail for “killing their baby” via abortion are so unwilling to admit that gun violence is an epidemic in this country.
Why is it that my babies’ lives, or any other human lives, only matter as long as they don’t infringe on someone else’s second amendment rights?
I’ve spent the last week contacting my representatives, donating to Everytown and Moms Demand Action, and passionately sharing data in any way I can (including with sidewalk chalk on my own driveway) because I am desperate for change.
But, as cynical as it sounds, I know how all of this will end — with more thoughts and prayers until we do this all over again after the next inevitable massacre.
Like so many others, I’m tired. I am tired of mentally preparing an escape route any time I go to a concert, a movie theater, or any large gathering. I’m tired of the devastating news alerts. I’m tired of our country blaming gun violence on just about everything other than guns.
Above all, I’m tired of being forced to be a neglectful parent to my two daughters just by taking them to school. Because when I drop them off each morning, I let go of their little hands, give them each a smile and a kiss on the head, and send them on their way even though I am fully aware that it could be the last time I ever see them alive.