As mothers, we are all quietly grieving today for the mothers of the Manchester victims.
We always feel a jolt of fear when we hear about random terror attacks. But this one has hit us harder than almost any other. These were kids who were targeted. Little kids, or teenagers, who were full of excitement, on a night they’d been looking forward to for so long.
We can imagine those kids, because they could be our kids.
As mothers, we feel for other mothers. We all live with the constant fear of our child being taken from us.
We are hearing the stories of parents desperately ringing their child’s phone, only to find it has gone dead. Of calling every hospital, every hotel, without finding their child. Of searching the streets of Manchester. Of begging people to share their child’s image on Facebook, praying they might still be somewhere out there, wandering around, dazed.
As the hours go by, we know they must be losing hope.
For just a second, we imagine what it would feel like to not be able to find our child after a terror attack. And then we push that feeling away, because it’s too scary.
It’s not fair. Parents can do everything right. We can have the confidence in our children to let them take a big grown-up step and have the thrill of going to their first concert on their own. Or we can buy an extra ticket for ourselves, take them to the concert even if we’re not fans, stand next to them all night… and they can still die, walking right next to us.
We can be the best parents in the world and still lose our child. It’s not fair.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud: We need to talk about Manchester (post continues after audio...)
It’s a reminder that there are no guarantees as parents. We are vulnerable, all the time. There is nothing we can do to protect our children from someone who is so determined to cause death and injury that they will give up their own life for it.
It’s too glib to say we shouldn’t let a terror attack like this affect us because that would mean a win for the terrorists. It will affect us.
We are not going to stop our children from going to concerts. The logical part of our brain knows that the odds of our children dying in a terror attack at a concert are very low. They are probably more likely to die crossing a road on the way there.
But now that fear is in us. We will take this on, as another of the quiet worries that are constantly humming through our minds. Will our children get hit by a bus, will they get into a car with the wrong person, will they try drugs… and now, when they’re in a crowded place, will they be victims of a terror attack?
We’ll try not to let the fear affect our children’s lives. But it will affect our lives, because we are mothers.
We feel helpless in the wake of such an evil act. It seems like there is nothing we can do to fight against something so monstrous.
We will keep grieving for the mothers of the Manchester victims. And we will feel grateful that our own children are safe today.
If you'd like to support the victims of the attack and their families, you can donate to the Manchester attack victims fund here.