Musings From Mama

by Sharon Rosen Leib October 30, 2017


woman unplugging electrical cords on white

“I need to get off the planet and unplug for awhile,” my late mother would tell us kids periodically. If this sounds New Age to you, you’d be correct. Imagine Southern California in the late 1960s-70s.

For Mom, getting off the planet meant yanking both phone lines off their hooks, diving into her California King bed, shutting the master suite’s double doors tight and warning us not to bug her. I rolled my young eyes at her for being so melodramatic about wanting to take a nap. Now I get it. When she said she needed to get off the planet, she meant much more than napping. She wanted to shut the world out so she didn’t lose her mind.

Then, like now, the United States was devolving into madness. Two of my mom’s favorite political figures, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, were assassinated. The Manson Family went on a killing spree in Los Angeles County – terrifying our region. The National Guard assaulted and tear-gassed college students protesting the Vietnam War at campuses around the country, particularly Mom’s alma mater Berkeley. She had a close friend whose brother dropped a strong dose of acid, thought he could fly and leapt off a five-story building to his death. I could go on but this thumbnail list establishes plenty of reasons why she wanted to hop off the world and into bed for a while. Between these troubling events and the demands of raising three kids, she understandably hit the wall with some frequency.

Lately, my extreme distress over our contemporary American nightmare makes me feel Mom’s urge to crawl into bed. How many mass shootings will it take before politicians beholden to the National Rifle Association stand up for gun control? Why can civilians still purchase military-grade assault weapons? How can it be that Congress may loosen restrictions on concealed carry laws and silencers? Why aren’t we all storming the streets of Washington, D.C. in protest? Maybe because we fear being gunned down by a crazed angry white male shooting from the Watergate Hotel’s penthouse.

Last month I received texts from friends asking if Youngest Daughter was okay at USC. Oh no!! What was going on? I checked the USC Parents’ Facebook group and read reports of an active shooter on campus. Thankfully, within minutes, the rumors of a gunman terrorizing USC had been dispelled and the campus lockdown was over. Turns out a professor, agitated by the prior night’s mass murder and mayhem in Las Vegas, told her class she heard shots being fired. Already on edge, the students panicked. After this scare, I needed a nap.

The resurgence of public displays of hateful anti-Semitism also makes we want to sleep the nightmare away. I was mortified when my older daughters told me about anonymous Internet posts by fellow college students saying things like “Send the Jews back to the ovens.” Call me naïve, but I believed we were heading toward a more enlightened era. Instead, we’re living in a regressive age where ancient hatreds, like vampires, rise from the dead.

Much as my mother did decades ago, I’ve felt the need to get off the planet for a while. This made me feel awful until I realized she always bounced back up. She remained politically active throughout her life and taught me by example that it’s okay to take temporary respites in bed to gird for future battles. As mothers we must rest up, rise up and do what we can to protect our children’s future.A

“How many mass shootings will it take before politicians beholden to the National Rifle Association stand up for gun control?”Cheshvan


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