An 11-Month-Old Baby, Nine Months Pregnant, and Scared

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The events of September 11 happened during my child-birthing years. In 2001, I had no idea how that day would impact my parenting.

September 11, 2001.

As I remember the terrorist events of the day and  the pain it caused our nation, I can’t help but remember what was going on in our lives. I had an 11-month-old baby. I was also nine-months pregnant with baby #2 and ready to deliver any day.

It was the first time in the white-picket-fence dream of my life that I realized we lived in a very real world. A world that is affected by reality. And sometimes when reality hits, it hits hard.

At the time I was married to a police officer. For the first time in my life, I faced the fact that there was the possibility I would be raising my kids alone. Widowed. Without a husband.

The next 48 hours were rough. My ex-husband had to work around the clock….even on his days off. The city pretty much went into lockdown mode. Every time the news came on, I cried. The false labor pains got worse with each tear. And my poor baby — the 11-month old — was so sweet, yet unphased by all of the events in our country. I couldn’t help but look into his big brown eyes and wonder what kind of world was I bringing children into.

Like many, I had friends in New York and Washington, D.C. who I tried to contact. I finally reached everyone I needed to reach and made sure they were okay. And they all were. We were lucky.

In so many ways, the events of those days changed my thinking.  But I also think it may have been the wake up call I needed.

I needed to know that anything, anything could happen to my dream marriage.

I needed to know that raising children is harder than changing diapers and tickling feet.

I needed to know that the false labor pains so many women experience during the latter stages of pregnancy were only the beginning of several years of experiencing pain and heartache from wearing my heart on my sleeve when it comes to the love I have for my children.

I needed to know that there are mean people in the world. Really mean people.

And I definitely needed to know that I was going to have to talk to my sweet, sweet babies about terrorism, tragedy, and racism.

And it’s still hard to think about, even though it is a reality of the world we live in… 14 years later.

What have you learned since the tragedies of September 11?

Do You Have to Be So Blunt?

My Mommy communication skills faced a whole new challenge this week. Aside from the drama going on in the news, T1 had a little classroom trauma of her own.

Two boys in her class were caught smoking marijuana in the bathroom at school. Once the smokers were caught, the principal and the teacher talked to the entire class about the incident and asking the other students questions in an attempt to piece together the details.

Part of the class conversation included other boys from the class recanting a conversation where one smoker said to the other, “Pass me the blunt.”

As I processed the entire story and experienced the grief with learning these things go on in our small, suburban neighborhood school, I decided to let her talk. As she talked more and more, I listened more and more, and discovered something very important. My baby girl was scared.

If she was scared, then I definitely did not need to show my fear. Especially since her brother and sister were listening. And brother said out loud, “I am scared.” We talked about how fear is a normal reaction to something like this. I told them that’s why I serve on the drug prevention board for their school, and I told them about the addictions that cause some people to become regular users and abusers of drugs.

The conversation didn’t have to have a solution. They just needed a forum in which to talk, and for me to listen. And then I asked if they had any questions for me about drugs? And they did, about slang terms. What is weed? Why did he call it a blunt? And the list continued. And I stopped in my tracks.

I took a breath, I answered the questions the best I could, and if I didn’t know, I said I didn’t know. And in a world like this with so much going on, I realized what the tweens need from their mother. The ability to speak without being interuppted, the ability to ask questions, and the trust that adults will be honest with them.

And for the next two days, more drama surrounded the school with the incident. Drug dogs were brought in to sniff all the students’ desks and backpacks and eventually, another student was taken into custody for selling the marijuana to the students caught smoking it.

And we talked some more. Our conversations also included physiological affects of drug use on the body, the premise behind innocent until proven guilty, and the juvenile justice system. While the conversations had me rattled, I noticed that this is how the tween years are. And because honesty and trust are at the root of conversations like this, sometimes you do have to just be blunt.

How do you process circumstances that your tweens face?