If you are anything like me, I always have these mixed feelings sending my children back to school. Part of it is this longing for more time with them and this guilt that I didn’t take enough advantage of the time summer brought. It also is a maternal concern for the well being and protection of my children. To let them go again, out from under my wings, praying that they have the courage, prudence and virtue to handle with grace whatever situation they may face during their school day. (Perhaps it makes me a helicopter parent.)
It was the first full week of school and I was out running errands with my little ones and hadn’t glanced at my phone for awhile. When I glanced at it between buckling car seats, I noticed a text from my older boys’ school and then an email which startled me. It read something like, the school has been placed on a lock down because of a disturbance in the area. I immediately called my husband, who because of his area of work was also alerted to the details of what was happening.
There was a shooter in the area who police were in pursuit of. My heart started racing, my mind fogged and without thinking it through I told my husband to go and pick the boys up! Obviously, that is not even an option during a lock down. Businesses and streets were also shutdown and closed, but the gut instinct of any mother is to take her child out of harms way. As I learned more about the situation, it was all happening just down the road from their school building. Close enough that they would hear the police and swat teams driving by.
My fear for my children instantly switched to empathy for what they would be feeling in this circumstance. I became anxious, because I knew they were anxious. I was fearful, because I knew they were scared. And then I felt completely helpless, to not be there in their great time of need, to offer comfort and calm in distress and worry. I immediately turned to their Guardian Angels, knowing and believing they are always at our side, asking them to protect, offer peace and ward off all danger.
Within a few hours the police had the suspect, the lock down was over and nobody was harmed. I could not wait for the school day to be over, so I could pick the boys up and have them in my arms. As soon as my oldest walked out of the building I had to fight back the tears when his eyes locked with mine. As I gave him a hug he said, “Mom, it was a really bad day today.”
As a mother, we long for safety, protection and peace for our children. The reality is, my children are growing up in a very different world and cultural climate than from when I was a fifth grader. We practiced fire and tornado drills, the term lock down was not even in our vocabulary. I never questioned my safety and security at school.
Not only have the times changed for our children, they also have altered our worries as mothers. The talks and discussions we have to have with our children today seems to pierce their innocence all too soon. The harsh reality that is our society and the sin that is rampant, is not something we can ignore or hide our heads from, because sooner or later it will stare our children in the face. It is up to us to prepare them, guide them and comfort them. To give them formation, instill virtue and cover them in love. Ultimately pointing to the One who is Love itself. It is there we will find the answers to all of life’s woes, a peace that cannot be shaken.