Our Family Is Just Like Yours : How the Orlando Shooting Struck Close To Home

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READING TIME: 4 min.
 
Our family is just like yours. Two devoted parents of a little girl that is the center of our universe. We don’t sleep late as much as we’d like. We rock/scissor/paper for who takes the poopy diaper. We have traded Justin Timberlake for Music Together in the car. We research things like car seats and pediatricians until we are blue in the face. We put our kid to bed in the evening and collapse on the couch only to look at pictures of her 10 minutes later. We wonder what we did without her and thank our lucky stars she’s ours. 
Hanging in our daughter's nursery...
Hanging in our daughter’s nursery…
 
In the day-to-day, I sometimes forget that our family looks different than most. We all walk through life wearing certain labels that tout important parts of ourselves and these labels are constantly changing.  A Texan.  An athlete.  A foodie.  A Longhorn.  And then Bam!  When you become a mom, you don’t get labeled, you get branded.  Our other labels are still there, not hidden out of spite or lack of importance, just faded by the all-consuming label of MOM.
 
But our family is different than most of yours because our daughter doesn’t have a mom and a dad; she has two moms. And when the worst mass shooting in US history happens at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando and kills 50 people and wounds even more, it means something different at our house.  
 
One of our labels is suddenly front and center and the target of pure evil and hatred. And I cry like everyone else in this country, but maybe a little harder because that was me and my friends dancing and laughing at a club on a Saturday night not that long ago.  I am angry and I’m disgusted that we have to prepare our toddlers and preschoolers for a future marked with gun violence and mass shootings, and I’m completely heartbroken that I will also have to explain to my daughter why this happened to us and our community. 
 
Nobody seems to have the answers on what to do about the gun violence epidemic in our country. We cry and we pray and we change our Facebook profile pic in an attempt to feel less helpless. As a parent, the lack of a plan on how to fix this is paralyzing.
 
I’m so tired of trying to make sense of it as an adult, so the thought of explaining this to a child while also reassuring her that she is safe makes me sick to my stomach. Add to the list that we have to tell our little one that her two moms (who basically moved mountains just to bring her into our family) place her in a “different” category that is sometimes the target of hate and ignorance.  As I watched the Orlando news come in on Sunday morning, my baby girl playing with her toys on the floor, blissfully unaware of the TV or Mama’s tears, I just wished she could stay little and unaffected forever. 
 
We as moms can’t stop gun violence (although if ever a group’s sheer will could, it would be moms for sure) but we aren’t helpless.  We can teach our children kindness and inclusivity. We can make sure they realize that everyone matters and everyone is equal. We can model kindness that knows no bounds, no color, no discrimination. We can explain that true empathy for others means trying to put ourselves in their shoes to imagine the struggles we may never know ourselves.  We can remind our kids that differences are what keeps our lives and communities great. We can celebrate diversity in our community whenever possible.  We can hold our children (and ourselves) accountable for behavior or words that are hateful.  And when we as moms fail at our own lessons (we are going to make mistakes), we can turn to our children, who effortlessly embody a pure and beautiful lack of prejudice. Watch a group of kids together and it illustrates the daily lesson:  we are all more alike than we are different. 
 
Our family is just like yours. We watch our kid grow and we worry about helping her too much or not enough.  We miss our alone time and drinking bloody mary’s (all day) on Sundays.  We want our daughter’s childhood to be happy and carefree. And we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure a safe future for our child, and we deserve a community that will do the same. 
 

10 COMMENTS

  1. My work friend brought me here. Your words are beautiful and heartbreaking. I remember my shock when I found out that the “how to be safe around law enforcement” was absolutely universal in the black community. I guess, now we have ours.

    After your story, I wanted to share mine as well.

    This hit close to us as well, but for different reasons. I was going on a night time group bike ride/visibility event for cyclist safety, but my partner isn’t a cyclist. He’s a dancer. So I went on my bike ride, and he went out to the clubs with a few of our friends. We both had a great time, and got back home at around 3AM.

    We saw the news the next morning, and I broke down. He was at Houston’s equivalent of Pulse. A packed gay dance club, and if this had happened in Houston and not Orlando, I might have never seen him again.

    • Thanks for reading and for sharing your story, Joe. It breaks my heart to think of the moms and dads and partners and siblings and friends waiting to hear if their loved one was safe that terrible night. I’m sure you held him extra close!
      Peace and love,
      Katy

  2. This is beautiful and spot on. Thank you for sharing. I myself am not gay but have close family and friends who are that I’ve grown up with and have met over my lifetime thus far- and to me – I’ve never looked at anyone different. I am happy to say my kids are inclusive as well and don’t see a difference b/c of race, religion, or sex, sexual identity or where they come from. I am happy to say – my teenage son last year petitioned to get gender neutral bathrooms into his high school – garnered over 20K signatures and the bathrooms were put in over the summer. I have adopted sisters from Pakistan, Guatemala, and Russia. I have a niece from Ethiopia (we are white). Basically, my kids have grown up around acceptance and love. My daughter when she was 8 was so surprised to know her cousin Ella was adopted. To us, it’s obvious, she’s from Ethiopia, she’s black and her parents and siblings are all blonde hair with blue eyes. The innocence and love my daughter showed at that moment brought so much joy and love to us, and tears to our eyes.

    I just wish, hope, pray – that others can continue on this path. I am heartbroken for you and your family that you have to deal with this type of hate. I hope one day, everyone will see you are just like them, me and every other family who love each other and want the best for their loved ones.

    • Thank you for sharing, Rebecca. How proud you must be of your son’s leadership and what an absolute blessing to be a part of a family with so much diversity! ❤️
      Peace and love,
      Katy

  3. Katy – thank you for the piece you’ve written. It is very well said, and illustrates a great point. What I take away from it is that, for many of us, there is something that makes us “different”. For you, your daughter is growing up with two mommies instead of a mom/dad combo. In my home, our boys are growing up with “caramel” colored skin because they are bi-racial. I worry about things they are destined to encounter as they get older because the reality is that some people come from a place of ignorance, hate, and hurt instead of a place of inclusion and love. On the other hand, I’m grateful that simply by being “different” (and with the values we instill in them over the years), our boys will learn what it truly means to see all people as equals, what it means to love regardless of race/color/creed/religion/orientation/etc. We are all people. That’s it. Just people. We are all the same, even though we are all different. I’m not religious, so I don’t pray, but I dream of the day when we can celebrate what makes us each unique while we simply accept that we are also all the same.
    Thanks for your words, and best wishes to you and your family.

    • Traci, thank you so much for your words and sharing your story and perspective. I’m with you…dreaming of that day as well! I’m going to keep on hoping that our “different” little ones can be little lights amongst their peers…showing the path to kindness and inclusion.
      Peace and love,
      Katy

  4. Hello old friend! I miss you! I can’t remember if I ever congratulated you and Judy on the birth of your baby girl, so CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy for you!

    Wow!!! You are a gifted writer and this is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing your perspective. The world needs more children raised by parents like you – who are committed to instilling kindness, compassion, respect for diversity, and love in their children. I am so sorry that such hate still exists toward the LGBT community. By speaking out, you help to shed light on this darkness, which judges people not on the content of their character but by who their heart loves. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you wrote with the exception of “We as moms can’t stop gun violence.” I truly believe we CAN! In addition to trying to raise good human beings, I joined a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America a few years ago. We are to gun violence prevention what MADD was to drunk driving decades ago. There is power in numbers, and our numbers are growing. Please join us! And Call Senators Cruz and Cornyn today and ask them to expand background checks to ALL sales. Text DISARM HATE to 64433 to be directly connected to your Congresspersons. ‪#‎DisarmHate‬

    • ELVA!!!! I smiled so big when I saw this comment! So good to see your name. Thank you so much for your kind words. You are awesome. And though I knew you more pre-motherhood, I’m quite sure you are totally excelling. 🙂
      Thanks for the information on the group. I’m in. ❤️
      Miss you!

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