This past week has been filled with tragedy. The week began with a shooting at Clackamas Town Center, the mall I grew up shopping at with friends on weekends. I have spent hours in that mall, and even spent an afternoon there a couple months ago shopping with Carl and the kids. So when I read the news stories about the shooting in the food court, I could easily picture us living through that nightmare. My heart ached for the poor people who lived through such a senseless tragedy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the school week was concluded with another shooting, equally tragic, equally senseless, but on a much larger scale. While all mass shootings strike a sense of helplessness and despair, the one in Connecticut was particularly hard to read about. Children and death are not words you want to hear in the same sentence. I’ve heard that living through your child’s death is worse than death itself for any parent, and for me personally it is one of my biggest fears. I cannot begin to fathom what those poor families are living through right now.
Since we only have a Roku, we don’t ever watch the news. Therefore, we only hear about current events online, where we just read what we want, when we want. One neat thing about this is that we are able to easily choose what we expose our kids to. We initially didn’t talk about this week’s tragedies in front of the kids, because I wasn’t sure how to approach heartache of this nature. I also have a hard time sharing something this sad with them when I don’t have an answer as to why things like this happen. I hate that I live in a world where I even have to consider how to share this kind of information with my kids.
There is a part of me, a large part, that doesn’t want to tell them about these tragic events. I don’t want them to feel the feelings this kind of tragedy elicits. I want them to remain innocent, tender-hearted, and trusting. I don’t want to see fear in their big eyes or answer their scared, curious questions. But there is another part of me, a smaller part, that wants them to be aware of current events. I want them to know that life isn’t perfect, I want them to be prepared to handle sad news. I want them to know that the safe little bubble they live in is a blessing they shouldn’t take for granted, because it is not the norm for many people in our world. I want them to be thoughtful of others who are suffering or less fortunate than they are.
Unlike Bill Maher, I have been giving my kids extra hugs, kisses and I love you’s this weekend. While it may not help the families who are grieving, and it may not change the world, it does make me feel close to them. It reminds me to be thankful, and thankfulness is the best way to combat sadness, helplessness, and frustration. I don’t want to take for granted the little blessings in my life. I cherish them, and I want them to know that every single day. Every time I feel that twinge of guilt when I look at my vibrant, healthy children I say a prayer for the mama’s and daddy’s who are in a valley of darkness right now.
How do you handle heartache where your kids are concerned? If they’re old enough to be aware of the news, do they know about the shootings in Connecticut and Portland?