Parents Perspective

When Tragedy Happens While You Sleep: The Las Vegas Shooting

If you are feeling incredibly anxious about being away from your kids after hearing tragic news, you aren’t alone.

Las Vegas Shooting KatsiarynaKa2/Shutterstock
This morning I heard the tragic news coming out of Las Vegas like many other parents did; in the midst of the business of getting kids ready for school. In my case, I’d turned on the news in the car, while waiting in the drop-off line. Immediately, my heart sank.

Fifty people dead? Hundreds more wounded? The deadliest attack of gun violence in the modern history of our country?

RELATED: Talking to Kids About Tragic News Stories

And now, I was supposed to open the door of my warm, safe car, and let my little girl go off into the world on her own? My instinct was to lock the car doors, and speed away. That way, I could take my daughter home, where I could keep an eye on her, and protect her from any potential harm.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Prepare Your Kids (and Yourself) for an Emergency Situation

But of course, I couldn’t pull off such an irrational overreaction without raising my 9-year-old’s suspicion. And scaring, and scarring, her for life.

So, with my heart pounding in my chest, and tears threatening to spill over onto my sweatshirt, I hopped out of the car, and hugged her, for as long as I could, without sending up any red flags. Then I watched my child, my whole life, walk away from me into her school, and I prayed.

I prayed that she’d be safe today. That the hours would speed by until I could pick her up again, and hold her in my arms. Then I prayed for all the families in Las Vegas who are reeling from loss and pain.

I drove home in silence, not wanting to switch the news on again. I feared I couldn’t handle hearing more details of what had happened at the Mandalay Bay Casino, where, incidentally, I have  spent several enjoyable evenings in the past.

Although I want to know about the tragedy, so I can perhaps help in some way, or just understand how and why something so horrendous could have happened, until my daughter and her sisters, my babies, are safe in my embrace, I won’t torture myself by turning on the TV or surfing news sites.

All I can do is lean into the anxiety of being a parent today. We send our children off into a world gone mad, it seems sometimes. It’s impossible not to worry, and just want to shield them from encountering any bus or hallway chatter that might scare them. Or worse. In a day and age when schools aren’t safe from violence, I truly believe it’s an act of courage to send our children there to learn every day.

But it’s what we have to do. We must teach our kids not to be afraid, and not to let tragic news stop us from leading our lives. Or else violence, and the people behind it, win. 

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Still, I’ll be on edge until my kids come home today, just like many parents around the country. I’ll feel very grateful to tuck my sweet girls into bed tonight. Before I go to sleep, I’ll pray again for everyone affected by the shootings in Las Vegas. And, like many parents, I’ll pray for my children’s safety, and try to stop myself from worrying about sending them out into the world tomorrow.

Melissa Willets is a writer, mom and coffee devotee. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.