Parenting Through the Heartache of the Orlando Attack

by ParentCo. June 14, 2016

It's a beautiful day, roughly 80 degrees, and we are driving home through Southern Connecticut from a wonderful weekend visit with friends. Windows down and air flowing through our hair, we are surprisingly unbothered by the traffic that we just landed in.

In the lane next to us, a National Guard convoy passes by. My almost-five-year-old son is excited to get the attention of the uniformed driver to wave hello. A friendly beep of the horn and smile in response made my little guy all giddy.

"Gabe, you know how we always pray for the men and women who work every day to keep us safe? Those are some of them!"

With all my heart and soul I pray for them every night. Our world scares the shit out of me. Once I became a parent, that fear grew larger. With the mass shooting that occurred just hours earlier in Orlando, the potential attack that was thankfully stopped in L.A., the state of affairs in the Middle East, and of course the daily unfortunate events across our country – including those that don't make the national news – this world needs as many heroes as possible.

To a little kid and his younger sister, those men and women are heroes because "they wear uniforms and help people." For right now, at their age, that is all they need really need to know. I get that that limits them from understanding the terror that truly exists in our world, but I'm okay with that. I am fine with not telling them that people get injured or killed in unforeseen circumstances like simply wanting to go out to a nightclub, parade, a shopping mall, or, God forbid, work or school.

I try hard to expose my children to the world outside of their bubble to help them begin to understand just how fortunate they are to have food, shelter, toys, and each other. But this is one bubble I feel completely fine letting them stay in a while longer. Death, terror and mass destruction is something I have a hard enough time digesting. In the blink of an eye, my kids will be older and will soon enough be exposed to the unimaginable situations of the world.

I wonder what the world will be like then. How many more people will experience the severe pain of losing a loved one to a senseless death? How many more communities will experience destruction? How many more times will change be possible – yet politics stand in the way?

Kids, don't pop that bubble yet. Please.

Much of my fear of the world became more evident when I became pregnant for the first time. Motherly instincts set in pretty quickly. Weeks away from delivering my little guy, I had a conversation with a colleague at work who'd just lost her elderly father.

Despite her mourning she was happy that he was finally at peace since he was no longer in pain, but also because he was getting very depressed from simply watching the nightly news during his final days. The news had started to put a damper on me, too, and I expressed how scared I was to bring new life into a world that is becoming more and more terrifying.

Her response gave me a new perspective: Maybe your son will be the one to truly make a difference in the world.

It's a powerful thought.

On days like today when I am saddened yet again for the disgusting events that continue to happen, I will continue to pray for those dedicating and sacrificing their lives for ours. I will continue to pray for all of those who lost their souls or lost loved ones to acts of hate. I will also continue to enjoy the sunshine that is upon us today, and the giggles in the back of my car. And I will continue to do my best to teach my children in ways that inspire them to grow up and be the change they want to see in the world.



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