I Feel Guilty-- I’m Thinking of Sending My Daughter to Kindergarten by Stacy Firth for MotherHustle
“I always liked school. I never felt afraid. My parents never felt afraid to send me. It’s different now.”

I have so much guilt right now. Because my daughter starts kindergarten in the fall. And I’m actually thinking about sending her.

It no longer feels safe.

It is no longer just the place she’s most likely to be bullied or teased. It’s the place she’s most likely to be shot. How can I send her there?

After the most recent school shooting (and I’m sending out legit prayers right now that there’s not another one by the time this is published) I spent days Googling:

What is homeschooling?

What is unschooling?

How do I know if I can homeschool my kids?

What are the homeschool laws in CT?

I wish I could have found solid answers to my more pressing questions:

How do I stop this anxiety?

How do I best protect my child while still allowing her to be the free-spirited, curious creature she is?

How could this happen?

How do we heal?

WHAT DO I DO?

Google has no answers for those questions.

Among other places I don’t find answers, or even a sliver of solace:

Our president. He needs to carry notes to remind himself to act like he feels empathy or compassion, and considers more guns in schools the solution to guns in schools.

The government. The people in charge of making laws to protect us accept money from our country’s biggest advocate for guns. Lawmakers in Florida, less than a week after the shooting there, declared pornography a public health risk hours after refusing to even entertain a bill banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Right now, I feel certain that we can no longer expect that those in places of power will actually do anything to protect all of our beautiful, innocent, loving babies. It is far past time to take our power back. It is up to us.

I am encouraged and inspired by the words and actions of the students in Florida, who have called us all out on how far us adults have let this come. I feel guilty because we have let them down.

They look to us, still — have you realized that? It makes me want to cry, how much faith young people have in “grown-ups”, while the grown-ups in power are too scared or proud or morally and ethically compromised to do what needs to be done.

I stay up way too late having conversations with my husband as we dance with the question “what do we do?”.

He doesn’t feel the elephant-on-chest feeling of panic that I have right now. He points out that it’s not actually likely to happen to us. I point out that we are just like grieving families throughout the country who thought the same. I remind him that we’re sitting just over an hour away Sandy Hook. The conversation stops for a minute, because there are no words.

I remind him that when I started college, I wanted to be a teacher. I changed my mind just as it was time to commit. It just wasn’t for me. Still, I think I could pull off the teacher thing, at least for our own kids. I imagine crafts and creative learning, little field trips and the freedom of not being tied down to a school schedule.

I feel guilt because, truthfully, I don’t want to homeschool my girl.

I want her to spread her wings. I want to teach her love and freedom, not fear and hiding.

I want to spread my own wings. I have been waiting, tipping from patient to eager and back again, for my kids to start school.

The plan was always that my business would grow as they did. I have split my time between days of work and days of play at home with them because it’s where I wanted to be. But I have also always wanted more. I don’t want to homeschool. I’m mad I even have to be thinking this way. I feel guilty for even thinking about myself.

Because I would give up everything.

Every client, every dollar, every aspiration. I would let the words wither and fall away forever. I would sacrifice everything, anything, if it meant my baby girl was safe and protected.

I don’t need to tell you that I feel certain I would not be able to go on living if I didn’t protect her. That a part of me would go on living but I’d be all body, no soul. No heart. You know. You’ve had those thoughts yourself. You’ve felt the collective grief, the heavy weight of sorrow and trauma that vibrates through the air in the wake of another tragedy.

This is emotional, but I don’t think that emotion is a weakness. It’s our power. We are all feeling our internal guidance systems, and they’re saying, “This is not okay. Something needs to change.”

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” — Coretta Scott King

That’s what we need: a lot more soul, a lot less pretense, politics and pussyfooting.

So here it goes.

Guns do not make people become angry mass murderers. But guns do enable angry people to become mass murderers. Let’s stop an argument right here, before it even starts: we do not need to take away ALL guns.

We simply cannot value our right to bear arms over the safety of our children.

We need to go through hours of classes and training and two tests before we can get a license to drive a car. Why can’t we do the same for guns? Makes sense to me. But is that the best solution? I don’t know; I’m not an expert. I’d love an answer from those who better understand guns and psychology and lawmaking.

So here’s the real question: why is everyone who has anything to do with guns and government so completely unwilling to engage in a serious, civil, collective discussion with the goal of finding a reasonable solution?

We have to stop letting our disdain for the other point of view stop us from the attempt to find a solution.

We have to remember the common goal: peace.

Guns are the symptom of a bigger disease that might not exactly qualify as an epidemic, yet, but feels like one. These school shooters have all been full of rage. They have all been hurt people, often in deeper ways than we can even imagine.

That’s not an excuse, it’s simply a fact. We need to devise better ways to help kids who have been identified as troubled.

We have to be willing to face the complex and scary issues with open hearts and open minds.

And, although it sounds far too simple and cutesey, I believe it is our true power– every one of us needs to practice more compassion, show more kindness, and give more love.

We underestimate the potential we each have to brighten someone’s day and to change someone’s life, and we underestimate the impact it makes. We have forgotten the deep human connection we all have, and how collective all of the world’s hurt is. We undervalue the importance of the work that we, as parents, do in raising solid and stable individuals and in shaping the future of the world.

We have to remember the simplest of things: that we are all people, and all people need love.

No matter what side of the gun control and mental health care debate we fall on, none of us can look at what is happening and say it is okay. It is not okay.

We have a real big problem here, and it is complex. We need a solution. One with soul.

I do not want to find out what sort of massacre it will take for those in control to wake up. And I do not want to throw my hands up in the air and say “there’s nothing I can do.” The longer we go on without making major changes, the more complicit we become in each school shooting. We cannot be so afraid to speak out and step up that we do nothing. Again.

I feel helpless in the face of the seemingly minimal impact I can actually have on this heartbreaking issue. I can call my representatives. I can vote. I can march.

Then what?

I can homeschool my kids.

Can I homeschool my kids?

I know that I cannot live in fear. I want to love this world and all the people in it, and I want to teach my kids to do the same. I know that right now I am a mama bear, fierce, wild, unpredictable and ready to protect her young no matter what. While that is a very good thing, it is also a very scary thing. It is no way to live.

I always liked school. I never felt afraid. My parents never felt afraid to send me.

It’s different now.

I feel guilty. I’m thinking of sending my daughter to school.


MotherHustle panelist Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs create online content that keeps it real. She also leads workshops that help mamas lead a lit-up life, and is mama to two. You can find her on her website or on Instagram at @stacyrfirth.

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