How do we teach our children the value of other peoples’ lives, no matter how different or unattached they might feel? A mother responds to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
My 2 and a half year old son is currently napping in my king size bed. I peek through the door and his eyes are gently closed and his mouth slightly opened. He is perfect right now, sleeping and quiet; a vessel of dreams and hopes I have in my mind floating around about what he’ll grow up to be; who he will grow up to be.
And in the moments after the initial shock and heartbreak I feel for the victims when learning of a tragedy like the recent shooting in Aurora, CO my heart always finds a way to land with the suspect’s mother. Not in an accusatory way, but because I imagine her just like me, some 22 years ago; peeking in on her son while he sleeps, envisioning him as a grown man and all the things he’ll do someday. Because no mother imagines that her son will do something so unspeakable, so horrific.
I want to remind myself to stay away from thoughts like, “my child would never do anything like that,” no matter where on the spectrum of unwanted behavior it may fall—from bullying all the way to something as tragic as this past shooting. As a mother, it is burned inside of my heart that my child can do anything. I’ve whispered those words to him while he’s sat on my lap, “you can do anything, baby.” I believe he has the capacity to be anything he wants to be—I must force myself to remember that doing anything does not exclude things I fear most.
So I’m left with only questions—How do I love my son enough? How do I teach him the value of other peoples’ lives no matter how different or unattached he feels? How do I show him that no matter how big of a mistake or failure he thinks he’s made there is always a way to make it right? How do I ensure that he knows to ask for help when he needs it? How do I make sure there are people in his life who will reach out to him even if I am unable?
All I know right now is there is a heaviness in my heart. As I lay next to him with our noses touching; breathing in the air that he breathes out, I know that I am willing to do everything in my power to make sure he knows that he is loved. With so many other things so far out of my control; gun policy, violence in the media, mental healthcare, society’s notion of ‘man enough’—the list goes on for days —maybe the only thing that I can guarantee in this little bubble I have control over is love and kindness. My love for him and our kindness towards each other—towards all others.
This is in no way an attack or accusation of the suspect’s mother or his family’s parenting. Nor is this an attempt at suggesting the suspect’s mindset. I am only trying to sort through my muddy thoughts in a way that I can move forward with purpose as a mother to a boy. I am fully aware that my own heartache is infinitesimally small in comparison to that of the victims’ families.
Read more responses to the Aurora, Colorado shooting, from our bloggers:
The Evil That Men Do – James Holmes, Aurora Colorado and Mental Illness, By Shawn Maxam, of For Shawnel
Mass Shooting in Aurora, Colorado – Tell Me Why We Don’t Need Gun Control Again?, By Josh Bowman, of 10 Things I’ve Learned
—Photo credit: wsilver/Flickr