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What Really Scares Me as a Mom

Photograph by Getty Images

I was getting my hair cut several weeks ago, just before going on a vacation with my two oldest daughters. I had saved up all year to take them to Europe in celebration of my oldest daughter's graduation from high school.

My stylist and I chatted as she cut my wet hair. "I think your trip sounds so exciting!" she enthused. She paused, then said tentatively, "But I told several other clients about it and all of them said that you were crazy to go."

I assumed that she meant traveling with teenagers could be tricky. "Oh well, my girls are good travelers—pretty easy going. I'm not worried," I said.

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She looked at me in the mirror and replied, "No, not that. These ladies thought you were crazy to take your daughters to Europe because of ISIS," she whispered.

My face squished up, as if I caught a bad smell. "What? I don't … What? What does that even mean?" I asked her. She answered, "You know. They are scared that you and your daughters could be attacked by terrorists in Europe."

"But I'm going to Switzerland, not Syria," I said. She shrugged her shoulders and kept trimming.

That brief conversation got me thinking about what truly scares me. Taking my daughters on a trip of a lifetime to Europe does not. But there is something here, in the United States that does.

If you live in the U.S., you are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than any other developed country.

That's pretty scary.

Mass shootings in the United States are the new norm. The simple act of going to the movies, attending church or sending our children to school now carries with it a risk.

1,824 people under 18 years old died because of gun violence. And 413 were children under the age of 11.

Last year in Europe, slightly more than 6,500 people were killed with guns. In the same year 33,636 Americans were killed.

Another way of looking at it is per capita. For every 100,000 people in the U.S., 10.64 were killed by guns last year. In the UK, that number was .23 per 100,000.

Just slightly over halfway through this year, and 7,279 Americans have been killed with guns (number since July 27, 2015).

That's an average of 35 people each day.

35 lives ended. 35 families' hearts crushed. Every day since New Year's day.

Of those 7,279 lost lives, 1,824 were under 18 years old. And 413 were children under the age of 11.

As a mother, these shocking numbers horrify me.

My daughters and I returned home from our trip three days ago. Our bags were filled with gifts, our heads and hearts with precious memories.

RELATED: We Have a Gun—And I Worry About My Kids, Too

But everyday reminders of gun violence—and the fact that our country is still allowing this new norm to continue—are still jarring. Yesterday, I took all four of my daughters to the sweet, little movie theater in our small town. Our family loves seeing movies there and does so with such frequency that the entire theater staff knows us by name. As we settled into our seats, paper buckets overflowing with popcorn, the thought of someone walking into the theater and opening fire on my family popped into my head.

Even considering that scenario brings me such sadness.

That this can happen anywhere? That's what really terrifies me.

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