The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial has shaken my faith in my ability to protect my children to the core. As a mother I am concerned everyday for the safety of my children. Will my little rambunctious one break a bone playing to rough? Will my loving, sensitive one be too friendly to someone who means her harm? Will my budding teenager get caught with the wrong crowd trying to impress people he doesn’t even like?
While I can’t control any of these situations, I find comfort in thinking that as a mom I can effectively prepare my children to stay safe. But, will my demure, non-chalant manchild make it home from school/the store/practice without being viewed as threatening and thus dispensable is not a notion even my engineering degree educated mind can process. There is no comfort to be found in knowing that someone’s negative perception of my son is cause for him to be confronted and attacked. Nor is there any preparation for the outcome of that attack being legally justified.
As a “middle class” parent who grew up a “middle class” child there has always been a certain lifestyle that I wanted to provide my children. Long before I ever saw an episode of The Cosby Show, I knew about of college, formal dining rooms, and the butcher delivery guy by first name. (Yes, our bologna and leona sausage was delivered. Bourgeois, I know.) So, when I had my own family living in suburban neighborhood with enough yard for a playground, basketball hoop or pool was non-negotiable. My kids would have the same luxuries and opportunities I had as a child. Even when we lived in a place void of any cultural diversity, I ensured that we enjoyed all the area had to offer. I even gave in to my husband’s insistence on private school once I learned what the public schools had to offer.
So, when our manchild grew a little too big for his britches (Read A Master Plan or The Master’s Plan?) and we faced the decision of sending him back to an environment that was equally, but oppositely void of culturally diversity, I was torn. We had done so much for him to live out “the American dream” sending him back to “the hood” seemed oxymoronical. But against every rational thought I could form, we bit the bullet and sent him back. I was devastated. I felt his chance at success had been cut off.
Then one day in February 2012 a young boy in Sanford, FL was shot to death because he didn’t fit the cultural demographic of the neighborhood. He was viewed as threatening. Another day in July 2013, the adult male shooter was freed from penalty by the justice system for killing an unarmed teenager because his perception justified his fear. And once again, I became frantic as a mother who felt my grip on the protection I could offer my children slipping through my fingers.
Sitting in worship service that Sunday I felt a tug telling me to bring my son back and I wrestled with it. I addressed it with my husband. We both agreed to spend some time in reflective prayer and discuss it later. The conclusion that we both came to individually surprised me. If our greatest concern is ensuring his safety in his everyday environment, how do we resolve removing him from a place where crime and violence are prevalent, but he’ll likely never be attacked because he’s considered threatening? How is it that the very place I want my child to grow away from is now a safe place for him to be?
In all my efforts to be a good mom, I constantly find myself questioning decisions and choices that I make. Ultimately, I have found that I must trust God’s will, even when I am unsure in my own heart. Often times, we don’t realize that the very thing we don’t want to do is the very thing that is best thing to be done. And our struggle is the pull between our faith and our flesh. It’s not to make us feel good because we are good moms, but for the benefit, safety and well-being of our children. They don’t call it mothers intuition for nothing. It’s our ability to connect with our spirit, commonly called our conscience, the very thing that allows us to connect with God. When it’s all said and done, if we trust our intuition we will do well by our children. Even in times when it’s tough for them and for us.