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Suffer the Little Children

There are seven days until Christmas, a time of joy, laughter, wonder and delight. Yet we all have very heavy hearts as we celebrate the season of lights, love and good will towards men.

There are 20 homes that will be missing a child on Christmas morning. 20 homes where one little face filled with wonder and joy will be brutally, inexplicably and heart-wrenchingly absent. Every molecule of my being wants to scream “NO!” Not children…not our children. Not our sweet, innocent beautiful babies. No, please. Make it be a dream. Please, make it not be real.

But it is real. It did happen. On our watch. Our children, yours and mine. Violently ripped away.

I think of my own child in the first-grade. So wide-eyed and trusting. So alive and curious about everything. How could anyone do this? How could anyone look a face like that and do harm? How do we move on from this? Where do we go? How do we heal?

Surely the world has stopped….

But the world doesn’t stop. Just moments ago I received a recorded message from our school’s superintendent letting me know that our school’s doors are locked and our children practice lock-down drills. I’m grateful for the call, but I can’t believe we live in a world where calls like this need to exist. As my eyes fill with tears and my breath stops short I just can’t help picturing my own sweet one being trained to protect himself from attempted mass murder. All the while just thinking he’s going through a regular school drill, not comprehending the darkness and terror that’s actually possible.

How on earth is this our reality?

As I listened to our President last night, at first I found myself balking when he said we had failed our children. But I let the thought rattle around a little bit, and I realized that we have. On many levels. They trust us, they love us and they need us. And we have failed. No child should ever fear for their lives because they walked into their school, or went to see a movie, or walked out the front door.

I have to believe we’re better than this.

As the wise Mr. Rogers says, “Look for the helpers.” I think one of the ways I’m processing all of this is by diving into the stories about the teachers, first responders and the children themselves; Courage, beauty and love so brilliantly on display. The teachers who hid their children, who told them they loved them and who paid the ultimate price to make sure the children in their care made it home to their families. I don’t even know how we begin to thank them, but it is truly a testament to the power, strength and beauty of the human spirit.

And as life goes, we have the exact opposite on the other side. The brutality, violence and ugliness of mental illness. Something that we as a society have long tried to ignore.

To our fellow mothers who are struggling to raise children with mental illnesses, I am sorry that we’ve failed you too. Mentally ill children are also our children. It’s time to stop pretending that they don’t exist. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but surely we can provide more support, more help and more preventative measures to make sure these children don’t harm themselves or any more of us.

As for the political measures, I really don’t have the answers here. I’m not a fan of guns at all, even though I was raised in serious hunting country. My view has always been that if you own one, you’ll end up using it. And well, I didn’t want that for myself. That being said, I’m not really one for putting that on others. However, I do believe strongly that if you own a gun(s), any kind of gun, you must know where it is at all times, and you must make sure your children – or anyone else – can’t get to it(them).

I’m a deeply political person, but I’ve worked hard never to get political here on Better Way Moms. I want to make sure this site is a safe place for everyone, and that no one feels that they can’t participate or aren’t welcome. So as I open up this debate to all of us, I would ask that we let all voices be heard, and make no one feel shut out or ridiculed.

We all have the same goal here, and that is to make sure our children are safe. We are mothers first, not gun owners and non-gun owners, not mothers of healthy children and mothers of ill children. We are mothers. I refuse to believe that there isn’t a solution here. And as I’ve always said, if you want something done, turn it over to moms.

Maybe we do need one highly trained shooter at each of our schools. That is not a sentence I would ever have imagined myself writing. But maybe we have to look at that as a possible solution. Perhaps we raise the taxes on the sale of bullets, and that money goes to fund some serious, in-depth mental awareness and educational campaigns, and for building and supporting facilities to help our mentally ill. I don’t know, but I do know we can find the answers together.

What other ideas can we present as mothers? How do we support our fellow mothers with mentally ill children? How do we protect our children from mass shootings when all the guns are already out there?

It’s time to get creative, it’s time to open our minds to new ways of thinking, to let go of some long-held beliefs so we can make way for new solutions. It’s time to handle this. Now.

Enough is enough. Please. Never again.

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