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It’s December. I want to sit on the couch next to my Christmas tree drinking hot cocoa and think about how much fun we’ll have Christmas morning. I want to look outside at all the lights and decorations and feel the joy of the season. But how do I do it when there’s so much uncertainty and sadness in the world?

I think about sending my boys to college one day and I wonder, “Will they be safe? Will they have to worry that someone will come into one of their classrooms and start shooting?” I just don’t know. It could happen.

I don’t want to let my boys go anywhere, but I know I have to let them live, even though there are monsters out there who want to kill them. My boys, who have never hurt another human being in their lives, are hated simply because they are Americans.

When I was a young girl, I wasn’t concerned with these things. I worried about tornados or maybe my house catching on fire when we had “Fire Prevention Week” at school, but I never had to worry about a world full of strangers who despised me just because I was born in America.

And now my youngest son comes home from school every so often and asks me if ISIS is going to come to Michigan and kill us all.

I’ve always been the type of person who tried not to let anyone intimidate me. I went to New York City a month after 9/11. I wasn’t going to let terrorists keep me from living my life. But now I’m a mother, and I’ve become afraid to let my boys go.

I took them to see a movie the other night, and I was scanning the theatre the moment we sat down. I was looking for every exit sign and planning our escape, just in case some maniac in full gear, loaded with guns and ammo, came in shooting.

A few weeks ago, when my husband took my oldest son to a football game, I worried. I had to talk myself down, saying there would be no way my husband would ever let anything happen to my boy. I told myself I was being ridiculous and that they would both have a great time and be just fine.

I’m not totally paralyzed with fear yet. I still send them to school. I still walked into that theatre, bought them popcorn, and watched the movie. But as time goes on, and as we are continually attacked, my fear grows.

I want to stand up and tell the world that I’m not afraid, but I can only pretend. Because now that I have two sons whom I’ve sworn to love and protect, I am afraid, and I hate to admit it. I hate that the killers are winning. They are scaring me, and I’m losing the brave, fearless woman I once was.

These terrorists and murderers must have been young once. They were babies at one time. They had mothers. I wonder now, if their mothers see them and know what they do, how those mothers must feel. What shame it must be to know that your babies are killing other innocent babies and then celebrating it for all the world to see.

Or maybe these savages never had mothers, or at least not the kind of mothers who raised them with love and protection. Something had to have been missing somewhere along the way to have them grow up with no hearts.

I don’t have much of a choice. I’m going to let my kids live, let them go to the movies and football games, and to the mall because they need to live their lives. I know it’s better for them to experience all they can while they are still young. Although locking them in our house might keep them safer, that’s no real life for them at all.

But as I watch them walk out the door, I will still worry. I will still pray. I will still plan our escape. I will always be watching. And if the time ever comes when we face the most frightening situation, I’m not going down without a fight, no matter how scared I might be.

Maybe when the monsters were babies, they didn’t have mothers who fought for them. Maybe they had to survive on their own. I’m going to choose to believe they never had mothers because if they did, and their mothers were like me, that’s just the most scary thing of all.

Tammi Landry-Gilder

Tammi is an author, wife, mother and blogger who lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with her husband, two sons, three dogs, and too many fish in a tank to count.

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