Like many, the tragedy in Parkland initially left me feeling hopeless. And, sadly, it wasn’t because I was heartbroken for the victims. It actually took me days to shed a tear over this latest school shooting. That’s how numb I’d become to these acts of mass violence.
A part of me was hopeless because I know that if we’re going to ever prevent future tragedies like this from happening, so many changes have to take place. So many ‘systems’ have to work flawlessly. There’s the angle from the mental health perspective, the angle from gun control, the parenting angle, and many others.
But mostly, I was feeling hopeless because I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t know enough about these systems and institutions to even know WHO I wanted to hear my voice.
I knew that I could no longer rely on people in positions of power to represent me the way I expect them to if I don’t make clear what those expectations are.
But, that seemed so overwhelming. Because, if I’m being honest here, I didn’t know who my State Senator was. I didn’t know which ‘District’ I was in. I didn’t know what offices are up for reelection in 2018. For sure, I didn’t know how a bill makes its way through the General Assembly of Virginia. And, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty smart lady.
After 13 years in a public school system, 4 years of undergrad studies, 2 years in a Master’s program and 2 more in a Ph.D. program, I am sure at SOME POINT in my 42 years of life on this earth, I knew that my State Delegate doesn’t travel to DC to serve double duty as my US Delegate. But, up until a week ago, I wasn’t totally sure of that. Stop it with the side-eye.
You see, for eight years, I’ve been pretty busy raising my babies. I’ve been feeding them, playing with them, nursing them through the flu, exposing them to STEM-based resources, reading to them at night, volunteering at school, heading to church on (most) Sundays, and spending intentional family time together on the weekends. You know…the things ‘good’ parents do.
And, I just assumed the folks I voted into office had the safety and well-being of my children in mind. I thought they would be fighting for, at a minimum, the laws that I believe to be common sense. Assumedly, they were making sure those laws and policies would actually be enforced.
I relied on them to fight to make this world a safer place because I didn’t want to fight.
Truth is, I know many of them are fighting for what they believe will make the world a better place.
Most of them have given up a comfortable life to do what they think is in the best interest of their county, state, and country. It’s got to be far easier to work a normal 9-to-5 grind in relative obscurity than to answer to thousands of people and be held responsible for literally EVERYTHING that goes wrong in your neck of the woods.
But, while I was sticking my head in the sand to raise my kids and help support my family, I missed something pretty important.
Those people in places of government power don’t know my truth.
And, how could they? For starters, I’ve never voiced my opinion on this issue to them. I expected them to read my mind.
More than that, most of them are nothing like me. Most are much older than I am–many with grandchildren older than my kids. Very few have raised children that attended public schools in the last 5 years. They’ve never had the chance to put their own kids on the bus and pray they wouldn’t get massacred that day at school.
I’m guessing few of them have ever turned to each other at the bus stop when the bus pulled away, exchanged three sentences with each other, and broken out in tears because of palpable anxiety and fear. I did that with another mom THIS WEEK.
They don’t know that instead of digging in my heels to see what I could do to help after the Vegas shooting that I purposefully chose to do nothing.
The TV stayed off. I didn’t read the reports. I couldn’t do it. It was too painful and I couldn’t imagine what could be done to prevent it. Why should I consume it and show up broken for my own flesh and blood?
But, something changed in my heart last week.
It happened when a friend of mine shared a link for a local Moms Demand Action meeting. I saw that she, another mom just like me, was finally at her breaking point and decided to NOT stick her head in the sand. I shared it on my Facebook page and some of my mom friends expressed interest in going. And, I felt like I wasn’t the only one who was ready to stand up.
I know that we live in a country that was founded by people who NEVER had a ‘Meh….it’s too big of a problem, we’ll never fix this’ attitude. As moms, we do hard things every day.
We are problem solvers. We can craft together an outfit for Dr. Seuss Day with green felt and pipe cleaners, clean up vomit in the most precarious of places, and empower our kids to look out for their classmates who are treated poorly, all while cooking an organic chicken in our Instant Pot.
So, while the task of preventing another school shooting in our country seems overwhelming and multi-faceted, I know exactly who’s going to fix it. Moms.
Because we brought all of your naked hinies into this world. We’re not going to let you take each other out. If that means we need to love harder, fight louder, and listen more, well, we’re up for the challenge. Pile it on our already full plate.
What can you do?
That’s really dependent on what facet of this problem you feel called to get involved with.
I’ve been devouring a lot of info from our state legislative website, attended a local Moms Demand Action meeting, have emailed my state delegate and gotten a reply (find yours here), and poked around on the NRA’s website.
I’m hungry to understand all sides of this issue.
Next up for me is a self-guided crash course in Virginia government…which I’ll share with you in the off chance that you’ve been busy raising babies, too. Stay tuned.