Paranoia or Preparedness?

I am an only child. And, no, I am not spoiled…except, perhaps, spoiled with attention. When I was young, I did not get everything I wanted. I did not throw tantrums to get my way. But I did grow up in an environment in which I received ALL of my parents’ devotion and love; so, yeah, I am a bit spoiled in that area. I was also overprotected. I say overprotected because my mother was a bit on the “crazy mom” end of the spectrum. This could very well be because I was her one and only, but I know that she was on pins and needles when I got my first job at the toy store for the Christmas holidays, when I drove away in her Honda Civic at age 16, and when I moved away to college (just 26.8 miles away, mind you!). And I can’t count how many times my mom called the police, not because of something terrible I’d done, but because of a forgotten call home, or a wrong turn, or a miscalculated time of arrival. Because of this overprotective nature, you could say that my mom instilled within me a sense of suspicion and mistrust for the world.

When I am alone, I tend to zone in on the task at hand, ignoring distractions and avoiding conversations, whether shopping, running errands, or traveling to work. But you’d better believe that I cautiously take in my surroundings, and if something looks or feels odd, I’m in alert mode. And even if everything seems fine, I take my time to find parking spots in well-lit areas, I look around to see if people are nearby, and I think about places to hide or take cover in an emergency situation.

When I am with my children, I scan parking decks and parking lots. I wait for people to walk by or drive away if they’re near us. And no matter if we’re playing at the park, attending a school program, or trying to win tickets at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I watch for weirdos who might let a friendly smile or gaze linger too long on my daughters or my son. I stay close to my children. I watch everything and everyone.

When I am at home, I set the alarm. I lock the doors (and check them often, in case my energetic son or my forgetful husband unlocks something without my knowing). I make mental checks of the locations of our guns and ammo. I make sure I know where my children are and what they’re doing. And I keep my cell phone close. I’ve watched way too many “Investigation Discovery” TV shows to believe that a quiet day at home in a friendly, suburban neighborhood is completely and innocuously “safe.”

I also realize that all of this is not enough. So I choose to carry a handgun. While I don’t linger on the thoughts of impending danger (I have enough nightmares and worries to deal with, after all), I do consider the fact that bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Don’t call it paranoia; call it preparedness.

My children look to my husband and to me for answers, for direction, for love, and for protection. I don’t want to let them down. I’m a proud and responsible gun owner, and, just like my mother before me, I’ll err on the side of “crazy mom,” any day.

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