I am not a mother that bemoans the start of the school year.
I like structure and schedules. Summer is the antithesis of that. And while the slower mornings and vacations were a welcomed change for a spell, I’m ready for school.
But it’s never easy to let a piece of your heart out into the world especially with gun violence in America. Uvalde was a sobering end to the 2021-2022 school year and, quite honestly, it wasn’t that long ago. Something about summer – as stressful as it can be – feels safer. I try to remind myself that it’s a somewhat false sense of security; shootings don’t take the summer off in America. Maybe it’s the particularly tragic nature of school shootings – they stay with us, or at least me, longer. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child.
And it makes me angry because parents shouldn’t have to feel like this. We should be focused on first day of school outfits, packing lunches, taking photos, waving goodbye and furiously blowing kisses as they roll away from the bus top without a sinking feeling in our stomachs, that thought that creeps in of, “What if I don’t get to pick my child up at the end of the day?”
How do you let a piece of your heart out in the world? In this America?
Yes, our lawmakers finally passed a gun reform bill, it doesn’t go far enough, but it’s a start. Not that “a start” helps parents sleep easier at night or makes the school year any easier.
I’m ready for the start of the school year. I’m ready for school photos and field trips and take home folders and nightly reading. I’m not ready for the next school shooting. I’m not ready for the next town that will become synonymous with tragedy. (I can’t even bear the thought of it being my town.) I’m not ready for the grief & outrage cycle that will accompany it. I’m not ready for zero to change (although the gun reform bill does give me a sliver of hope that, maybe with an expanded Senate, we could pass a Federal Assault Weapons Ban – like the one that was in place when I was in grade school. )
Every parent wants better for their children than what they had. The fact that many parents just want the same level of gun control protection as they had in grade school is a sad state of affairs. We should expect better for our children. We should be focused on education and equity and opportunity. We should be able to drop our kids off at the bus stop and have our only worries be, “Will they eat all their lunch?” or “Will they make new friends in their class? not, “Will I have to identify them by their sneakers later today?”
How do you let a piece of your heart out into the world?