A Mother’s Constitution

  I rocked my son in the creaky old glider. His hair is damp from the bath, sweet smell of bubblegum bubbles still lingering over him. I sweep my hand round and round his small back, soothing myself, really. This mother’s fear, it is an achy thing. It grabs me by the throat and throbs behind my eyes. And in this innocent  room of a little suburban house in a little suburban town I am an animal, crouched and wild. You will not take this child.

    I hear the mumble of CNN from the other room. Men speak of weapons and mental health and Constitutional rights. I hear numbers and statistics amid talk of liberties. Feeling freshly wounded for the small suburban Connecticut town, I rock my son longer, clutching him like a safety raft, floating aimlessly. I am holding twenty children. I am holding them one-by-one, praying over their sweet heads. I am lulling them ever so gently to sleep. I am feeling their big hearts beat calm and steady in their chests. The  rise and fall against mine. I am begging through my bones that they feel how fiercely they are loved before they close their eyes. Inside I am wilder still. You will not take this child.

  Beyond state lines and border seas, beyond hundreds of years we’ve toiled away modernizing, I’m holding on to the basic rights of humanity. There are not numbers or names, no care for politics in this place.

I have the right to be a mother.

I have the right to love my child such power that mountains tremble.

I have the right to wash him in clean waters, cloak him in the softest things, comfort him completely.

I have the right to clinch my fists and squint my eyes and pray over his sweet head with all my might for blessings of a full life.

I have the right to rock my son to sleep.

I have the right to wake and greet him in the morning.


    I carry these kids with me. We listen to this talk of defending rights, of so much gone wrong. But these are not the rights I am concerned with defending. You will not take this child, I think. We have the right to keep them.



I cannot pray hard enough for the families of Newtown, Connecticut, a city wholly victimized, but I will try and try. 

*If you choose to share your thoughts and prayers in the comment section I ask that you be respectful. This is not an area for political views, just an opportunity to support a corner of the world so desperately hurting right now.



75 thoughts on “A Mother’s Constitution

  1. Reblogged this on scatteringmoments and commented:
    Every person who has ever loved a child would agree with these words. Please read this moving piece by Tori. This is one Mama who echoes these words wholeheartedly.

  2. Thank you for so beautifully stating what all mothers felt yesterday. I am crippled with pain at the thought of dropping off a child to never see them again, and beyond that, trying to imagine the fear in those poor babies’ last moments, and beyond that, the helplessness of not being able to protect your child from such horror. It all is too much to comprehend.

  3. I’m so sad about what happened. I shed tears yesterday as I followed the story at work and at home. But now I will turn the TV off and leave it off for quite some time. As a nation, we need to grieve this terrible loss. Letting the talking heads debate this endlessly without me watching will help me do that.

  4. Awesome Tory! You’ve spoken out for those who can’t find the words! What is now haunting me is you do whatever in your power to keep your child safe and protected. You speak to them of the dangers and how to protect themselves from others. But when something like this happens, you can’t help but feel helpless in knowing that you can’t to protect them from this travesty. Physically or emotionally. It’s got to tear at every mother’s heart to know that once we let them go into the world it’s out of our hands. And that is such a wrenching thought these days! You can only hope fate finds a way of shielding them from the forces around them. You’re words spoke for thousands!

    1. I’m crying reading your comment because what I’ve gained from motherhood is this overwhelming fear. Like you said, we teach and nurture and comfort and shield and it doesn’t seem like enough some days.

  5. Like Jim said, I’m staying off of social media. So many people seem to love their guns. I don’t understand it. I just don’t — and I never will. Beautiful post. I hugged my son yesterday when he came home from school. And he let me.

    That is a gift that some people don’t have anymore. And I mourn for them.

    1. I guess I’m just not in the frame of mind to think about legal technicalities and political moves right now. I’m wholeheartedly focused on what it would mean to lose a child in such a cruel way.

  6. You found words, my beautiful friend. I love your sentiment about holding those children. I pray God holds them close now, and that we lift up their families and the children who survived.

  7. What a very moving and touching tribute to the victims of this tragedy. I am not a parent, but I FEEL for every parent today, and I sympathize for everyone that is grieving and impacted. We all lost something to some degree yesterday.

    1. You are absolutely right. It is an entire world’s loss. I really believe kids are the closest to holy things we ever know. To see so many little ones so cruelly taken is a blow against any concept we have of safety or innocence.

  8. Tori- You have written what we feel. I haven’t been able to put my thoughts to paper yet- We are traveling and I don’t have my PC- but it wouldn’t matter. I am still trying to find a way to imagine what happened, and how any of it could ever be made better. In the meantime, we are just loving, loving, thanking and loving.

  9. I have been avoiding social media on this because…being privvy to people’s thoughts can do more damage than good. This post moved me to tears. As someone said…you found words, the right words. Words that I could not find. Thank you for sharing.

    1. It’s definitely disheartening to see the route some folks have chosen to go on social media sites. My thoughts on the tragedy are much more simple I guess. Twenty children lost their lives, twenty sets of parents lost their babies, and that’s all I cared to focus on.

  10. Regardless of my views, I hurt along with the nation. This should not happen, regardless of personal feelings about guns, pro or not. We should not be talking right or left, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.
    We should be mourning Americans, AS Americans.
    We should be mourning loved ones, AS loved ones.

    1. Amen! I know my views on any given subject are exactly right to some folks and horribly wrong to others. That’s a different story entirely. When I heard the news and in these days of watching the tragedy unfold, my thoughts are so far away from legistlation or policies or politics. I see motherless children and pointless deaths and innocent victims who thought, like the rest of us, that they were in such a safe place.

  11. Oh, this is just beautiful. I have been so sickened with how political this has all turned. I feel like people are missing the point. Thank you for putting into words every feeling that I have had the past two days.

    1. The numbers and statistics and immediate comparisons to other “mass shootings” has really broken my heart. Even the word “mass” is awful. Each and every one of those children and adults who died trying to protecting them deserves to be recognized and mourned individually , not dropped in some category as “one of the many” killed.

    1. It does just feel too big. I think we are going to have to accept that we probably won’t ever understand or fully comprehend this. It’s one of those situations where the more we learn of it, the more heartbreaking and confusing it becomes. I’m settling with just praying for those babies and the parents they left behind.

  12. I am a man but for this day I am a mother. I cry for the needless pain, and the female warrior inside me reaches out to embrace all the innocent souls in the world. I WILL protect them … even if I must do it alone. But I know I am NOT alone. Because you are a mom. And so is she. And she as well. Together we will embrace the world and make it a place of safety again, not one with agendas and contention … just a place where life is welcome and comfortable. Thank you for bringing what is important to the surface. Thank you for being a mother!

    1. I’ve really felt like an animal these past couple of days. I suppose that is the natural reaction when your young are threatened. In the past I’ve watched coverage of other heinous crimes and felt such huge sadness for the victims, but hearing of these children has had a different effect.

      1. Understandably so. No matter the differences between people … idealistic, religious, whatever … almost all agree: DO NOT HURT THE CHILDREN!

  13. Thank you for sharing this. My “boys” are 24 and 27 and yet when I heard this latest news I texted them “I love you” …..a mother’s love never wains and my heart aches for everyone who is in the midst of this sadness. I think my heart is broken . Thanks for sharing.

    1. Regardless of age, they are always your babies. I can’t wrap my mind around ever losing my son, particularly in such a heinous and cruel fashion. It is a hurt no parent should ever have to endure.

  14. Beautiful. There is nothing more powerful than love. No love more powerful than a mothers. I’m hopeful that this time something will change.

  15. Beautifully written, Tori. Prayers is about all I’ve got from this side of the country. I’m stunned at what has happened. We expect our children to be safe at school and it’s frightening when we realize that that sense can so easily be shattered.

    1. I was praying last night and feeling so frustrated that I couldn’t do more. I’d like to pray harder and harder, fix and mend and fix because (as so many people) that’s what I’m wired to do. It is a helpless feeling, but it’s all we’ve got.

  16. It’s been a rough morning for me today, coming back to work after a short vacation and then reading about the horror that’s happening back in my home country. I read the news article you linked and I just can’t process it at all. The fact that this time, it was a school full of children really makes me feel like something is just so wrong with society.
    As you said, my biggest wish is that those children knew how much they were and are loved and cherished, not only by their families but by the good people in this world such as yourself. Together, we can stay strong and help each other get through all of this. I’m glad you shared this beautiful piece.

    1. Thanks for reading, Lillian. It’s hard to put words or even whole thoughts to what a senseless and giant loss this corner of our country has endured. I think you are absolutely right. The best we can do is let them know that we are mourning and crying and fighting right along with them.

  17. Mother to mother, I feel you.

    “I am holding twenty children…” **tears spring to my eyes and something in my core tugs so hard it feels like I am being sucked into myself**

    “You will not take this child” **my spine stiffens, I hold my head up and pull my shoulders back**

    1. At the root of everything is the natural fight to protect our young. That’s what I’m feeling in a more powerful and fierce and white-knuckled way than maybe ever before. I cannot accept that our kids, despite every modern advance and world privelege, can be so cruelly and pointlessly taken from us.

  18. Perfectly said Tori. Thank you for this post. It is so unimaginably tragic and there are not enough words, no words.

    1. I was working on a silly, funny-ish post Saturday morning and I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t finding humor, and those kids and teachers were right there at the front of my mind. So I wrote about them, knowing that these little words on this little blog aren’t nearly enough. The best I can figure is that all of our little words in all our little blogs and prayers will amount to something. A tiny piece of comfort and support if nothing else.

  19. I’ve read this post so many times, crying my eyes out, because I’m an animal like you and these words are perfect. God bless you for describing our excruciatingly beautiful heartache so well.

    1. Animal was the only way I could describe it. You get it. It is this feeling that this place is quickly becoming unruly wilderness and I’ll protect my young with all the ferociousness I can muster. It’s a feeling of being threatened, I guess.

  20. Thank you for these words. They help describe the feelings we all are sharing over this loss. When these shootings happened, my own daughter was in first grade and I looked at her and her classmates and wondered how anyone could do something so terrible. Six-year-olds, embody the words ‘innocent’ and ‘hope’. And I remembered holding my daughter in those days afterwords, thinking how lucky I am to be able to do so – and continue to do so – while the parents in Connecticut no longer can. My heart goes out to them today and every day since. There were two children who had birthdays near my own daughter’s and I have kept their names on my refrigerator and I think of them often. As my daughter’s legs shoot out from under her, as her wobbly teeth fall out and get replaced – as she continues to grow – I think of the lives that were cut short. Thank you again for putting words to what we all are feeling. We do have a right to have our children return to us each day – to hold them in our arms and tell them we love them. We do have the right to love them so strongly.

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