It never fails… as we all come to grips with the horror and heartbreak of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, there seems to be a growing, visceral anger toward the first of the victims that day… the shooter’s mother Nancy Lanza. Blame after all, must be assigned. And when things go wrong like they did last Friday, it is to the mother that all eyes turn, all fingers point.
In fact, some are more angry with the mother than the son. Well I’m angry too… infuriated by the rush to judgement of a woman who is just as much a victim as anyone who lost their lives that day.
People are all too quick to put the responsibility for this horror on the mother… she must have overlooked a telling clue, protected a child she absolutely knew was capable of horrible violence. There can be no benefits at all to what she tried to do for him. He was “troubled” though never violent, but still she should never have had those guns in the house. No matter that this is her right, that she broke no laws and by all accounts was a responsible gun owner — guilt is assigned without any consideration to how a resourceful young man finally managed to access weapons he turned first on his own mother.
It makes me angry that one speaks up for Nancy… shares her own likely abject horror at what her child did. No parent, no matter how inept or overprotective, wants this kind of outcome for their child. This is overlooked in the rush to judge her life… her parenting skills… her choices and hobbies ridiculed by everyone but those who knew her best. They call her kind, generous and see her as just as much a victim of her son’s rampage as anyone in that school. No one wants to hear, or grieve, for Nancy.
She’s not counted among the 26 victims… there are no ribbons bearing her name, her photo is not part of the collages or illustrations making the rounds online. Her name is purposely left off memorials, as if she doesn’t deserve to be there. As if she somehow shares the guilt of a needy son who was troubled… who was hard to reach and closer to snapping than anyone knew.
I didn’t know Nancy Lanza, and reliable reports about her have been sketchy at best, but as a mother myself I feel for her in all of this. for her and the people who knew and loved her and now have to watch her be vilified by strangers. They lost someone too and now they have to bury her in secrecy and shame… unhonored and forgotten, her reputation tarnished and any good she did obliterated. Blamed for a horror she did not see coming, and was helpless to prevent.
Most of you probably think this is only fair. She deserve is… bad, overprotective, out of touch mother that she was.
But before you mount up on your parental high horse… think about your own parenting. Think about the times you might have made mistakes… excuses for your own kids. When you did what you knew might be wrong, but it was just so much easier. If you haven’t made any mis-steps in your parenting, well congratulations, you the first parent in the world who can say that. As for the rest of us… give Nancy a break… none of us know her struggle, her worries or her grief for her son.
The only thing we know for sure is that her struggle was in vain. And that she, like the 26 other Sandy Hook Elementary victims, need our prayers.