I'm Not the Same Mom I Was Before the Uvalde School Shooting

Our kids shouldn’t be scared to sit in their classrooms. As parents, caregivers, and decent human beings, we can’t let this continue. Enough is enough.

Sheriff crime scene tape is seen outside of Robb Elementary School.
Sheriff crime scene tape is seen outside of Robb Elementary School as State troopers guard the area in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. Photo: Getty Images/Allison Dinner

This morning, I dropped my kids off at school with a heavy heart and a knot in my throat. As I watched them get in line with their classmates in the yard and file into the building, I felt that knot dissolve into tears. "How did we get here?" That's the question we keep asking ourselves. School is supposed to be a safe space where our kids go to learn, socialize, and start to forge their own identities. It is not the place where they go to die. But that's exactly what happened yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, when a gunman opened fire in a predominantly Latinx school and massacred 19 children and two teachers.

Today, we have all seen their sweet little faces on social media and asked ourselves the same question: "How did we get here?" We've heard about how Xavier Javier Lopez, 10, enjoyed dancing with his brothers, we've seen Amerie Jo Garza, 10, proudly holding up her honor roll certificate in a photo, and we've heard from 8-year-old Uziyah Garcia's grandfather about how he enjoyed playing football. The stories of these innocent lives cut short keep rolling in and we keep scrolling.

Through it all, we are reminded of our own children. My daughters, Eva, 9, and Stella, 8, are in elementary school and just like the kids who were killed yesterday, they love to laugh, play, and have fun. I bet your children do, too. Yet, since Kindergarten, they've been preparing for an actual shooting by participating in lockdown drills. These drills, sometimes sandwiched between science and drama, have become a normal part of the school day. So, you can't help but ask yourself, "How did we get here?"

A friend and fellow mom texted me earlier to see how I was doing. Her children are now in college, but they were about the same age as my girls when Sandy Hook happened a decade ago. "I'll never forget it," she wrote, telling me about the anxiety she carried for years as her kids moved up in grades. Since then, there have been hundreds of school shootings around the country and firearms have become the leading cause of death among children. I'm also asking, "How did we get here?'

Last night, many of us fought back tears as we searched for words to talk to our kids about the mass shooting while trying to reassure them that they're safe, knowing full well that it's a promise we can't keep. Yes, these conversations are downright scary. But we need to have them. And we will continue having them unless we start asking ourselves a different question: "What are we going to do about gun violence?"

All of us—parents, caregivers, aunties, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, human beings—need to turn our fear, shock, anger, rage into action. We can't let our devastation shift into resignation. As activist Jennifer Rosen Heinz writes, "You can choose whether you do something, or do nothing. You are not powerless." She shares ways to take meaningful action at home, at work, and in your community, from joining a gun violence prevention organization like Moms Demand Action to voting for candidates who support gun legislation. It's time to move beyond thoughts and prayers and stand up to gun violence. Our children's lives depend on it.

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