My eyes were barely open as I groggily checked my phone:
NEWS ALERT: A Las Vegas shooting that has killed at least 50 is the deadliest in modern U.S. history. Here’s what we know so far…
It was too early in the morning for my heart to be shattered into a million pieces. Yet, there I was with my mind immediately rushing to those 50—a number that has since risen to at least 59.
Fifty? Fifty what? Fifty who?
It’s a shame the word was left unsaid in that brief news alert: Those are 50 people. 50 people who were once babies rocked to sleep by their mamas. Perhaps many of them have even sung lullabies to babies of their own.
Fifty people with an infinite more connected to them.
You see, it’s the burden of a parent to see the world in this way. I got a quick lesson in that: On the day after my first child’s birth, as I cradled him in the hospital and felt like heaven had never been closer to earth, the news of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris broke.
A newly minted mama, I watched and listened to the reports with a new perspective; a new kind of empathy for the families who had their loved ones stolen from them.
Two weeks later, the violence came closer to home: Just miles away from where my baby was sleeping, a gunman killed three and injured nine during a standoff with police at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
My heart shattered even more; fear made me question the safety of the world my son would know.
Since then, grief has overcome me many—far too many—times as I’ve heard of more victims of senseless violence. More grown-up babies who were loved as fiercely as I love my innocent, beautiful child.
But then, a new day dawns, and the narrative seems to shift.
We hear the names and stories of the people killed; people who made differences in their lives, whether on a large-scale or within their own families.
We hear stories of bravery; of people heroically protecting strangers, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.
We hear stories of the helpers; off-duty emergency workers who rushed to the scenes, medical professionals who worked around the clock, civilians who waited in line for hours to donate blood.
Listening to this, my mama heart starts to mend itself back together. This is because I know these are the people we have the power to raise.
For now, they may be babies who know nothing of this violence. Soon enough, it will be hard to shield them from its reality. But it is also more than possible to empower them with love, compassion and relentless levels of kindness that will make them forces of good who can counteract—perhaps even overcome—the hatred out there.
On this day, the victims aren’t just in my thoughts; they are in my actions. I’ll donate where I can, write lawmakers and, most importantly, find fresh motivation for the task that is motherhood.
That’s because my role as a parent isn’t solely to be The Changer of Diapers and Provider of Food, but to think about the person I am fostering who will later go into this world.
As a mama, my heart is still broken when I think about Las Vegas. It remains hard to find comfort in the wake of what’s already occurred.
But, as a mama, it is easier to find hope for the future.