Heavy Heart, Little Hands

I've been struggling the past few days to put into words what I've been feeling in the wake of the past week's tragedies. I feel sick to my stomach when I think about the latest mass shooting in Orlando. Or the Stanford rape case. Or the toddler who was drowned by an alligator. All of this, in addition to the political state we're in and the countless other hate crimes and terrorist acts that flood the news every day.

I cannot express how much your view of the world changes when you have a child. You are so much more aware of mortality. Of the bad things. Fear and anxiety over "what ifs" can be crippling if you let them.

Children are so innocent. They believe in unicorns and superheroes. They don't know about things like hate, racism, sexism, violence, politics, judgement, bullying and death. And they shouldn't have to. But because of all that's going on in our world today, parents are being forced to have those tough conversations.

I'm thankful that Liam is not at an age where I don't have to explain to him why a man walked into a nightclub and opened fire on a group of people because of their sexuality. That I don't have to explain why a white college boy raped an unconscious woman and was not given the same sentence as a a black man who committed the same crime. That I don't have to explain why people are judging parents who went to Disney World to fulfill their toddler's dream of meeting Mickey Mouse, for letting him play on beach where millions of other children have played before him.

As a mother, or parent, it's our sole responsibility to teach our children right from wrong. To shape them into being kind, decent, tolerant human beings. The pressure of such responsibility is heavy.

As parents, we should not have to fear our children going to school. We should not fear them going to the mall. We should not fear going to church with our families. We should not fear going to a movie or a dance club or letting them go to a party.

Our children should not live in fear of bad men and women who do bad things. How do I tell him that nowhere is safe? It's not even a matter of being careful...because these tragedies are happening where innocence thrives. Nowhere feels safe anymore.

I want Liam to know that the world is beautiful and that kindness, and good people and equality DO exist. I want him to know that hate and entitlement are not acceptable behaviors. I want him to know hate is weak. I want him to know that a little kindness can go a long way.

I will teach him patience and manners.
I will teach him that it's OK when people have different opinions and it's not OK to react to those differences in other way than respectfully.
I will teach him to love every person of every race, sexuality, religion, political party and lifestyle.

The fact remains that the world in which we live is scary and demands change. I don't know what the change is. I don't know how to make it happen. People need to accept that our freedoms include difference of opinion, and that the answer to that difference is not a mass murder or hate crime.


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