The fear of taking a life runs deep in my psyche.
For a time, it was too painful to think about, let alone write about.
I could relate to the mothers. And there were two kinds: mothers whose children had been killed, and a mother whose child had killed.
Both scenarios reflected my darkest fears and forced me to confront what I believe about safety.
To begin, let me confess that my own fears as a human being walking around have been rooted in two things. As a child, I had nightmares of being chased. One time, I held a shard of glass in my hand as I ran. When my assailant knocked me to the ground, I rolled over and slashed.
In another dream, my sudden movement caused an aunt to tumble off a cliff.
The fear of taking a life runs deep in my psyche. I’ve even wondered if, in a former life, I might have killed.
A psychic told me I had. She said that I carried the burden of many children’s souls, that I had been forced to make a decision that had caused their deaths. She said I needed to accept that I had done the best I could at that time, forgive myself and let it go.
Sounds crazy, I know. But it made a weird kind of sense to me. Or maybe it’s just a universal fear.
Now, I have children walking around in a world less and less of my making. I restrict violence in movies and video games, although my teens complain I treat them like children. I try to shield my children from violence, but it seems impossible. I don’t buy those games, so they splatter the blood at someone else’s house. They’ll see the movies you forbid, unless you lock them up.
Let me repeat, I fear my capacity to harm. And I fear harm coming to those I love.
My heart ached for the parents unable to save their babies, even though you know they would have given their own lives if they could.
And my heart ached for the mother whose efforts to create a healthy, happy human being failed. She sacrificed once again, the final time in 20 years of setting aside whatever hopes and dream she might have had to try and save her son. But she still couldn’t stop him from harming others.
This is the paradox of parenting.
No matter how we try to fool ourselves, we aren’t in control. Not of ourselves and certainly not of our children. As parents, we do our best to teach the rules. Sometimes our children break them.
At Columbine, two crosses were added to the 12. People tore them down and others put them up again. They were for the killers.
I’m sure there were crosses made for the Sandy Hook killer. But the bells didn’t toll for him. It’s as if we want to forget him. His mother’s death seems to make it easier.
His father and brother had cut ties. His mother gave everything. And still, it was not enough.
Neither solution works. When we excise someone from our family, from society, we all bleed. But when we smother our children, we all smolder.
As a mother, this is my fear. That I will give my all and it will not be enough. I will not be able to save my sons.
I will hurt them. They will hurt others. They will hurt.
Well, yes, of course. That’s life. That’s how we learn.
So, I light a candle.
For the 27 lives lost.
For myself. For my sons.
Today, may I help and heal rather than hurt.
Amy Taylor is a writer and yoga teacher with a passion for serving kids, teens and families. She grew up in Colorado and currently lives in Indiana. With a Ph.D. in school psychology, Amy finds that education and mental health are common themes that weave through her writings about parenting, yoga, scaling life’s peaks and trying to remember to enjoy the view. [email protected]
Assistant Editor: Thandiwe Ogbonna