I want so much for my child, and everything I want for my child doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.

I want him to try new things—like pistachio gelato and flying a kite in the park on a windy day.

I want him to look forward to book fairs and field trips during the school year—swimming lessons and lemonade stands with his friends during summer. 

I want him to brag about how he caught his first fish on his fishing trip with daddy—and I want to always see the big, toothy grin that takes over his face when he is in his father’s arms.

I want him to tell me all about his favorite teacher and his favorite subject and the new best friend he made in his class. 

I want him to tell me how he learned two plus two equals five, and I’ll laugh while correcting him that the answer is four. 

I want him to tell me his ABCs. I want him to count to 100, skipping 57 like he always does and then oddly throwing it in after 85.

Related: We are mothering in a terrifying world

I want to see the excitement spread across his face as he tries cotton candy for the first time. I want to be right there with him to comfort his tummy ache after he’s eaten too much of it.

I want for my child to experience a life of fullness. A life of adventure—like traveling to other countries and learning different languages. 

I want him to tell me what he adores about his crush, blushing in the cheeks as I ask him a bazillion questions and as I tell him the story of how his father and I fell in love.

I want him to laugh at the memories that we all pass back and forth at the dinner table—like how he taught himself to fake cry and the time he scraped his knee on his first birthday.

I want for my child to cuddle up on the couch with us for movie night—at 2 years old, 12 years old, 22 years old and beyond. I want him to always ask me to pop the popcorn, not caring that neither him or his dad has paused the movie while I do so.

I want to hear his explanations for why I’m wrong in an argument. I want to see this strong-spirited child that we’ve been raising learn to use his voice for good. I want him to always use his voice for good.

I want to see the look of excitement (and anxiousness) on his face as we drop him off at his college dorm—if he so chooses that route for his life.

Matter of fact, I want to see all the routes that he chooses. I want to hear why he chose a certain road and what led him to it. 

I want to see him learn from his mistakes—brush off his knees when he falls and get up and try again.

I want to witness his journey—praying that it stretches years and years and years so that one day, he can start his own career, his own family, and even experience the joy of being a grandparent himself.

I want for my child to bring the flowers to my gravesite, to his father’s gravesite—I don’t want us to be laying flowers at his. 

I want so much for my child—yet in the state of today’s world, motherhood for me is ridden with anxiety and grief. With constant “what ifs.” 

Related: Mom of Uvalde survivor fears American schools

Who is protecting our babies?

What if he never flies a kite? What if I never get to hear him ask for money to buy things at the book fair? What if one day, he and his best friend are sharing snacks in their classroom when a gunman walks into their school? 

Or, what if he sees the news about a gunman that walked into a school miles away, killing innocent children, and now fears drop-offs every day? What if he clings to me and asks me to not leave him? To stay in the back of his classroom? To be there to protect him? “Just in case.”

What would I do? How would I tell him that classrooms are a place for books and not for bullets?

How would I tell him that kids can become angels, too—as heavy as that thought may be to fathom? 

How would I tell him that I pray for him every day? Would he believe that prayers are enough to cover him? Sometimes my fear overrides my faith. I’m sure he must know this. But still I pray and hope anyway. 

Because even though we live in such a world where children have to learn school shooter drills before they learn to count to ten, I still want so much for my child.

I fear that if I keep him within arm’s reach (like homeschooling and limited social activities), I’ll deprive him of the experiences and opportunities that will shape him and his life.

But if I send him out into the world—into classrooms, into grocery stores and concerts and any social setting—will it protect him?  

And these thoughts plague me every single day. That I am even thinking about these… writing about these “what ifs” fills me with grief. But that these “what ifs” are some mother’s reality grieves me even more.

I want so much for my son. I want so much for his friends and for his cousins and for his classmates. I want so much for all of our children, our babies. But I’m not even sure that the world feels the same.

Because what action is being taken to end this cycle? Who is protecting our babies? Who is hearing the deafening cries of parents—of mothers everywhere? And what is being done?

I want so much for my child. I want the world for my child. But these days I ask, is this even the world that he deserves?