This morning, mothers sent their children off to school with lumps in their throats, squeezing their babies extra tightly as they wished them well. This weekend, countless parents had conversations with young children about things that should never have to be discussed. This week, mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and a nation in mourning will say goodbye to lives ended much too soon. In the weeks and months ahead, citizens and lawmakers will wrestle with issues of gun control and helping families deal with mental illness, schools will review safety procedures, and the 24-hour news outlets will talk endlessly about what should be done to protect children.
How are we, as parents, to get through this? How do we model healthy processing and grieving, and the delicate balance of fear and faith for our children? I'm no psychologist, and although I've read several articles written by such experts about how to talk with children about this event, I'm certainly not qualified to give advice. But I can tell you what I'm doing.
I'd digging deep to find my Wonder Woman.
Why Wonder Woman?
She lives in a world where there's evil. Undeniably so. It exists, it threatens, it's destructive. In the face of evil, whatever form it takes, Wonder Woman's strength and courage give her the power to overcome. And in Wonder Woman's world, Good wins.
Sure, it's a comic book, a hokey 1970s TV show. So dismiss it if you want. Tell yourself that Good doesn't always win in the real world and move on. You won't hurt my feelings.
But I'm here to tell you that Good does win, in Wonder Woman's world and mine. There's Good all around us, and I'm working hard to tune into that right now. It's not easy, but to overcome in the face of Friday's evil, I think it's necessary.
There's immense power in Good. Some days we have to look harder than others to see it. But every day it is there. And we can draw from it the strength and courage we need in these difficult days.
Last month, a firefighter come to talk with our Daisy Scouts about being courageous and strong. She's a 31-year firefighter, the seventh woman in our city's fire department. She explained being a first responder and what that requires. She talked about how we must find strength in ourselves to help when others are having a really, really bad day. About how we must find courage in ourselves to do what scares us. We all have that strength and that courage. We just have to dig deep and find it. This is the face of Good, the face of a hero.
Last week, I intercepted my friend the ATX Lunch Lady, as she was delivering a brown bag of delicious goodies to my building. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by cowboy hats and guns, as almost a dozen DPS troopers stood guard and an intense trooper interrogated us about our activities. At the time, it was amusing and annoying, as these two forty-year-old moms don't look a bit threatening. Today I'm thankful for a DPS trooper who takes his job seriously and will do whatever it takes to keep my building safe. On any given day, that trooper could be the reason that I'm able to kiss my children goodnight. In that, I find Good.
At our children's schools, administrators and teachers are practicing lockdown procedures and going through intruder drills. They are reassuring our children about school safety, and I can only imagine the questions they are answering today, carefully navigating the enough-but-not-too-much line that we're all struggling with right now. All of this while they're trying to keep little minds focused on the business of learning, trying to prepare our children for this world that today we'd like nothing more than to protect them from. Look at any school and there you find Good.
This is my mother, who dedicated her careeer to education and who now, in retirement, spends her days volunteering, furthering education of the natural world, preventing child abuse and family violence, and doing plant and bird surveys. This is the face of Good.
And this is my daughter, same age as many of the victims of Friday's shooting. This fragile little person is struggling to make sense of such evil, trying to understand a world in which something so horrific could happen. In her, I see a responsibility -- to show by my actions that for every bit of evil in this world, there is far more Good, that there are real heroes nearby who are using their own strength and power for Good, that each of us has the strength and courage to overcome, that families pull together in difficult times and help each other through life's challenges. I see the responsibility to raise a Wonder Woman.
I am trying be Wonder Woman. I don't mean Linda Carter's Wonder Woman (though I suppose it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if my husband saw me that way). But in this world where evil exists and causes such pain, I want to be the sort of woman who shows my children that Good wins. I want to be a Wonder Woman who faces life's challenges and upsets with grace and strength, who counters the undeniable evil in the world with goodness and love, who recognizes and draws strength from this world's true heroes, and who helps her children to find their own strength and courage to confront this far-from-perfect world.
Photo courtesy of Amy Kate Photography.
Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman
All the world's waiting for you,
and the power you possess...