Last week, our family should have been taking a 17-hour road trip. Thursday was the day we were taking our daughter, Kate, back to her home in the suburbs of Washington D.C.
Kate has been able to work remotely from our home since mid-November. Having her (and the cutest grandkitten anyone could ever hope for) here for an extended period of time over the holidays was my mom dream come true.
As this day drew closer, those little clouds of sadness about Kate leaving began to sneak in. I love nothing more than my family in one place, all together. I thought about how long it will be until I might see her again. I worried about her living alone in the midst of a pandemic. I really just wanted to keep her here a little longer.
But after two months of living away from her home, she was determined it was time to return to her own place. Disappointed that she was leaving, I committed to making this a trip filled with great memories to close our fantastic time together.
Then, in the midst of preparing for Kate to leave, I saw what was happening in our nation’s capital on Wednesday. Violence, chaos, absolute mayhem. And no one seemed to really be trying to stop it.
The worst attack on the center of our country’s democracy since the British burned the capital during the War of 1812.
I was about to begin helping pack an SUV with Kate’s possessions and loading up the people I love most in the world to head directly toward the epicenter of this disaster. This isn’t what good moms do. Our mom-a-cratic oath is to protect our kids from harm. The first time we hold our children, our crazy Mama Bear instincts kick in to keep anyone or anything from hurting them.
How, in any good conscience, could I load up my baby and deliver her to this place? How could I drop my firstborn off in a place that seemed more dangerous than anyplace else in our country? How could I tell a self-supporting, responsible, 27-year-old adult, “Sorry you can’t go.”?
I was overwhelmed. Maybe because of the gravity of the situation. I didn’t have a processing system in place. No parenting book that I read – and there were many – addressed how to drop your child off in the middle of a political coup.
As we were driving to pick up a rental car to make our trip, I suggested to Kate that her going back today didn’t feel right to me. And she understood. While she wasn’t concerned about her own safety, she quickly agreed that she could make arrangements to delay her return for a week.
A couple of phone calls, a little rescheduling for the family, and another week with my people all in one place.
Last night, as our family was hanging out, the evening was marred by watching my kids increasing anxiety about what is going on in our country. I watched as tears poured down Kate’s face when she received the final message from friends who work in the capital that they were safe.
As I write this, Kate types furiously on her next article, working remotely from Kansas another day. The sight and the sound make me smile. Until I remember why she is still here. She is here partly because we love her and want her safe. But she is also here because we live in a world where winning is so important that people are willing to hurt or kill another person rather than admit a defeat that has been repeatedly confirmed.
How very tragic to see our country in this place. My heart breaks for what is happening.
Moms, it’s time to be a force in creating change. Teaching our children when they are little how to win and lose gracefully. Making sure they know and adhere to solid boundaries. Helping them understand that things won’t always go their way. Relentlessly reminding them that violence is not the answer. Demanding that they treat each and every person they encounter with respect. Giving appropriate punishment when they fail to follow established rules.
Prior to yesterday, most of us didn’t believe “it could happen to us” when we heard stories of a government’s headquarters being physically attacked by its own citizens. Well, we were wrong.
While my family is together and safe, I find myself saddened by the stark comparison to our country that is divided and very dangerous right now. This is not the United States I want for my kids. I want a place where they can safely head home when they are ready.