Friday, July 20, 2012

Weeping for the Mothers

The post I had planned to write today was all about getting ready for next week's vacation. It was going to include self-deprecating descriptions of my ineptitude in packing, and a few jabs at the 10 books and 15 DVDs I'm packing.

But then I woke up and turned on the radio, and learned that the lives of dozens had changed irrevocably at 12:30 this morning. I heard that the first reaction of the mother of the suspected shooter had been, "You have the right person."

And with that I knew I could not write something lighthearted or funny, not when so many mothers' hearts are breaking.

Of course I weep for the mothers whose children died in the shooting. The mothers whose babies were hurt. The ones who will wonder, "What was I doing bringing a six-year-old to a midnight show?" and "Why didn't I leave my three-month-old with a sitter?"

I admit, for a split second I asked the same questions, too, but almost immediately I was ashamed of those thoughts.

The thing is, all of us mothers are doing the best we can. We take the baby to the midnight showing, telling ourselves she will sleep through the feature. We convince ourselves our six-year-old is exceptionally mature, and he won't be influenced by the PG-13 nature of the movie.

Usually we're right, because we know our children. That's why perhaps the most heartbroken mother of all is the one who said "You have the right person," and why I weep for her as well.

If the suspect who has been arrested is, indeed, the shooter, he is not be a confused teen or a societal outcast. This is a serious student, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar studying neuroscience in a medical school. No one achieves this without being smart, without working hard, without having others who help him his goals.

And still, his mother's first reaction? "You have the right person." Somehow she knew, and was unable to derail the avalanche of tragedy. She will be caught up in the endless media analysis of her son and the endlessly wondering what she could have done to make things come out...any way but this way. I can only imagine her second-guessing of every decision she's made during his life, from breastfeeding to video game limits to accelerated classes.

They were doing the best they could, and still their babies are involved in tragedies, as victims or as perpetrators.

My heart breaks for the mothers.


  1. You summed up my own thoughts beautifully, and made me cry. All day I pondered the shotting from a rather removed state, but kept coming back to the same quote you did: You have the right person. Your words often make me smile (I'm basically you about a decade ago with my own 5 boys), but today you did one better - you identified my feelings and pinpointed what I couldn't. I hurt for the moms, but specifcally for that one. Thanks for a beautiful post.
    And...I hope you still write about packing for your trip, when you are ready.

  2. Dear Readers: I was moved by one interview in particular. It was one of an african american young man maybe in his early 20's that had saved a mother and her children by his heroic efforts on that night. And this is what he had to say when asked by the reporter as to how he is going to cope with all this. His quote " I am going to forgive the shooter". The reporter repeated back what did you say and he said again "I am going to forgive the shooter because it is a much harder thing for me to do, to forgive him. I would like to share that as I was watching all this unfold, I too found myself praying for the victims families and their loved ones and the shooters family as well. And then I just felt moved to pray for the shooter and for the salvation of his soul which I did....No matter how hard this is to say and for you to read was the right thing to do. But indeed hard for me as well.. God Bless us all..

  3. Well said, MomQueenBee.