Last Monday morning, I woke up suspiciously motivated and optimistic – ready to knock off major to-do’s on my deadline list (for work and home duties). My kids got dressed, I got their lunches in order, we hopped in the car and I dropped them off at school
I was ready to conquer the day until I heard Ryan Seacrest on my radio talking about “what happened in Vegas” in a tone that told me he was not referring to partying stupors.
I got home, sat at my kitchen table with my computer and phone and checked my social media. The feed of first hand, horrifying posts from several people I’m personally connected to through circles of work and friends seemed surreal.
One writer I know posted about how she “kept running” until she found a Dumpster to jump in to hide (I met and sat next to her at a “Wonder Woman” media screening just a few months ago). I then turned on my TV – that did me in.
I cried. I sat on my couch. I checked Facebook. I turned off the TV. I checked my social media feeds again. Despite not knowing anyone who didn’t make it through the tragedy, I was beyond distraught. (We all still are, no?)
I also made a huge pot of pasta for my lunch – with borderline-sickening amounts of butter and cheese in it – pretty much because it was the only thing I could muster to do on Monday.
I was mentally absent when I picked up my girls from school at 3 p.m. I couldn’t stop the tears from welling. I couldn’t manage to make a decent dinner for my family that night either (all week, actually). I couldn’t manage to be patient with anyone. My 7-year-old told me I seemed “sad or mad” that day. I told her I was both.
Sad and mad for all the families and friends grieving the unthinkable for their loved ones lost right now.
Sad and mad that I can’t go to a mall with my daughters anymore without my eyes buzzing around to keep watch on our surroundings.
Sad and mad that I no longer want to do a family concert outing at our beloved Hollywood Bowl because I’m worried about being there, exposed.
Sad and mad that I can’t tell my child what I’m sad and mad about because I refuse to shatter and terrify her at the age of 7. I am so, so sad and mad.
(Come to find out this reaction of mine has a technical name: secondary traumatic stress. Apparently, its symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder.)
And I wasn’t even in Las Vegas.
Even though I know better than to over-consume tragic news, I kept reading the latest reports and stories as they continued to pile up during the days following. And then, I read a most unexpectedly inspiring piece that motivated me to “show up” for my kids. (It’s here: http://bit.ly/2y1Uqny– I urge you to read it.)
Even though we’re scared, angry and confused, our job is to power through and show up for our kids’ everyday lives with strength.
Feed their bellies. Drop them off at school with a smile. Play Candy Land on the floor. Encourage them to try new things. Ask them about their day. Teach them to have faith. Turn off the TV and put away our phones for the sheer purpose of maintaining our mental health so we can prepare our kids to exist and cope in the world as it is now. Keep their world spinning.
We must rise up for them, no matter how the world guts us. (Nobody ever said parenting was easy.)
And, if you’re in the mood for pasta with borderline-sickening amounts of butter and cheese in it, come on over.
Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and is creator of TheFabMom.com. Her book for pregnant moms, 'The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby' is available now. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @jillsimonian.