Hey everyone! I apologize for being absent for the last few weeks. I just felt like I needed a bit of break and we were incredibly busy at the same time. With warm-ish weather beginning to roll in here in Michigan, we have found ourselves getting outside more with the kids. Corbin has been doing a lot of work around the house (primarily in the basement since we have had a ton of snow melt and rain leaking in) and outside around the house. We have had a few emotional weeks from the highest of highs (Eagles winning the Superbowl!) to the school shooting in Florida. Today, I am going to talk a bit about the shooting and how it has impacted me, personally. I know many people may close their browser now because they are expecting a political rant, but I hate politics so I am going to stay away from that and just talk about my own emotions. To be honest, I don’t really mind if people continue to read or not. This is just an outlet for me, anyway.
Obviously, February 14th started out as any other normal Valentine’s Day across the country. You either love it and experience pure joy, or you hate it and spend the day in bitterness. There is that slight in-between as well, which I find myself in, where I think it’s a dumb Hallmark holiday, but the romantic in me still enjoys seeing all of the love in the air from baby announcements to engagements. Corbin had gone to school like he does every day and when I woke up he had left me a full pot of coffee and a card. We don’t normally celebrate the holiday so that was a pleasant surprise. I had gotten a card for him as well out of impulse in the grocery store so I’m glad I did. There was nothing special planned for us at all and we were just planning to go about our normal lives.
Let me rewind for a minute, here. When we started paying off our debt, our cable was one of the first things to go. When we moved, I considered getting it again, but we were so determined to follow through with our plan and that would be a setback, so it didn’t happen. Growing up across the river from Philly automatically turned me into a Philly sports fan from a young age. As far as championships go, I had only experienced the Phillies winning the World Series in 2008, so the Eagles’ playoff run was a pretty big deal. Those first few weeks of the season looked promising, but in true Philly sports fan fashion, there was looming doubt. When the Eagles won the NFC Championship, I turned to Corbin and said, “Okay, we have two weeks until the Superbowl. We need to figure out how to work an antenna into the budget. I’m not missing this game.” That night, the antenna was ordered from Amazon and I was looking forward to the game. Spoiler alert: THE EAGLES WON THE FLIPPIN’ GAME!!! I cried happy tears while stifling my screams since the boys were sleeping.
Okay, back to business. Because of the purchase of that antenna, we are now able to watch the news. I had the TV on in the living room on Valentine’s Day. From the kitchen, I heard that there was breaking news and another school shooting was underway in Florida. My immediate thought was, “Not, again.” As everyone has seen on the news or read online, this is becoming a very familiar occurrence in our country. The next thoughts that flooded through my head were that my oldest son had been enrolled in preschool for the fall and that along with millions of parents across the country, it was now going to be a very real fear of mine sending my child to school. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that my husband being a high school teacher did not enter my mind first.
In the days that followed, my thoughts were consumed by the shooting and when it would happen next; where it would happen next. It saddens me to have to think that way. The reality of my life is that all of my siblings and siblings-in-law, with the exception of one, work at a school as well as my best friend. My sister and brother-in-law are both teachers; one in a high school and one in a middle school for students with disabilities ranging from the autism spectrum to behavioral problems. My brother is the head track and field coach at Georgian Court University and his wife is an elementary teacher. My oldest sister is an athletic trainer at a private school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My best friend is a second grade teacher in our hometown. It pains me to think of Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and think that my family members could so easily be harmed in a similar situation if and when it occurs again. My anxiety has been at an all time high while I lay awake at night thinking about what could happen; about receiving that phone call that someone I love has been injured or killed in a school shooting. What’s worse is to think of the fear that those individuals in my life must be feeling following an event like that.
I have literally laid in bed for several nights with tears stinging the backs of my eyes as I fight them back. My reality is that I fear for my siblings and their spouses and my best friend, but I fear more for my children as we send their daddy to work every day in a large high school outside Ann Arbor. I have thought that I don’t know if I would prefer him to still be teaching at his old school with only 400 students or if I feel more comfortable with him teaching in a massive high school where he teaches on the third floor with a population of around 2000 students. I hate to say it, but in regards to a larger school, I think about how many students could be injured in a similar event and that with a larger student population, there is a larger pool of young adults who may be disturbed due to any number of circumstances in their lives. It makes me think of the panic that would be experienced if something happened in his school. It makes me think of the fact that this most recent shooting happened at the end of the day which is when I arrive at Corbin’s high school with our boys so I can go coach. I have literally thought about where I would hide my children if I heard a commotion. It breaks my heart that when I enter a school, I have to think about how I would try to protect my children, myself and other students.
A very good friend of mine, a preschool teacher, called me the other day because she said we had been on her mind since the shooting. She asked how I was handling everything and after taking a deep breath, I told her it was finally hitting me that it was a real possibility that someone I love could experience this in their school. I explained the layout of Corbin’s classroom and told her that he and his students had several good places to hide or duck behind things (his classroom is a lab so there are lab tables with cabinets to get in or behind). But, I also had to tell her that I worried about him being on the third floor because in a school that large, there’s no easy way out. Running down the steps outside of his classroom would leave him as a sitting duck if one or more shooters entered the same stairwell.
That friend’s call allowed me to finally broach the conversation I had been putting off since the shooting occurred. I was finally at a point where I could face the emotional questions I had for my husband and how he thought he would handle the situation if it ever happened in his school. His honest response is what I had been thinking since seeing many friends and family members on social media express they would definitely lay down their lives for students. From teachers to first responders, I see so many say, “I can promise you that I will protect your children.” Corbin told me that he would love to believe that he would do just that for his own students and he has learned what he is supposed to do, but in the situation, no one really knows what they would do. I completely agreed with his response. Listen, I would love to think that every single teacher and first responder would put those kids first, but I would never in a million years fault them for not doing that when they have families of their own at home to think about in that moment. Trained or not, fear can give you an adrenaline rush and have you jumping into action or it can completely paralyze you. I don’t think we should judge anyone for not doing “enough” in these situations mostly because these situations shouldn’t be a thing, but also because I don’t think it is wrong for those individuals to think of their own families, either.
I have many hopes for the future. I hope that these shootings become fewer and farther between. I hope that a shooting never impacts my family or friends directly. I hope that my children are safe in their schools. I hope that our country is able to find the change we so desperately need. All of these are hopes that millions across our country have had every single day in the past few weeks. Since it will be a waiting game to see what changes occur in the coming months and years for us, all I can do is pray that my family and friends stay safe in those instances and hold my babies close every day I have the chance since so many parents no longer have that opportunity.