9/11. If you were alive, you know where you were on that day. Even if you're too young to remember it, you've been told.
I was sitting in this really great purple chair we used to have. My eldest son was almost seven months old. I was watching TODAY and nursing the baby, while my husband was in the bathroom getting ready for work.
We were in Alabama at the time, and the local NBC affiliate delayed TODAY by an hour. They came back from commercial, and the feed was suddenly live. Matt Lauer was saying that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I called out to DH to get him to come see the news.
We were watching together when the second plane hit.
It was already scary to be a new mom. Motherhood is an emotionally demanding and difficult job sometimes, and it's especially so during the first year. And I'd already learned that maternal instinct is just another word for paranoia.
As we watched the craziness of the day unfold live on television, I was filled with dread and fear and paranoia, certainly. I vividly remembered the original WTC bombings in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Waco and Ruby Ridge and school shootings and every other horrible, unimaginable act of atrocity human beings perpetrated against one another in the name of God and Fear and Love.
It made me seriously question my decision and ability to be a mother, to protect my very young and completely helpless child from anything. That was about the time I decided to start a mild SSRI, because I just couldn't deal with the real world without freaking out a little. It was the right choice for me at the time.
Now, almost ten years later, we get a call from my mother-in-law to tell us that the president is about to go live on every news channel with a special statement about national security. The call came about 10:30 last night, which is late for her to call our house. I knew something had to be up when I saw the caller ID.
I joked that Joe Biden had finally gone nuts and was being deposed as VP. Then I looked at DH and said, "It's Bin Laden. They've killed Osama bin Laden." I couldn't think of anything else that might be worth the president addressing the entire world at 11:00 on a Sunday night.
So we turned on CNN and listened while Wolf Blitzer said they weren't going to speculate about what PresBO had to say, that they would leave it up to him to make the announcement. But then the news conference was running late, was being delayed longer and longer. CNN had time to kill. Wolf leaked what he thought was going to be said, which was (of course) that Bin Laden had been killed.
It was weird, honestly. They were showing live shots of people celebrating in front of the White House. I was watching status updates on Facebook and Twitter, in all of their varying tones of happy and sad and afraid and judgmental. I had exchanges with people who were elated by his death and those who were saddened by the elation of others. Everyone is entitled to their view and their right to express those views. I just found it interesting, the gamut of emotion that played out publicly in such a short amount of time.
All I could think about was how this impacted my children's world. Would it make them any safer? Would it make me any more confident that they would grow up without this constant menace of terrorism and hatred that had been all around us for their entire lives? In short, no.
Threats like this had been around long before Al-Qaeda reared its ugly head, both inside and outside the United States. People are chaotic, and it takes very little to upset the fine equilibrium of humanity. Humans are inherently violent and base and vulgar, but it's the moments of tenderness and beauty that make them redeemable, that made me want to bring a second child into this crazy, irrational world.
No, I don't think extremists will stop now that one man is dead. From what little I understand about Al-Qaeda, I expect there was a plan of succession in place, just in case this were to happen. And I fully believe that Bin Laden's death will only fuel the fires of hatred.
So I go on and try to teach my sons how to be good men in the midst of so much bad. I try my best to show them why life is special and sacred, why liberties are worth defending, and why freedoms are an intricate part of so much else. We'll talk about 9/11 and the subsequent decade, how it will forever impact life as they know it. But we won't talk about it all the time. And I'll hug them just a little closer and cherish them just a little more, because I am reminded yet again of how incredibly precious this moment in time with them, and of how extraordinarily lucky I am to be sharing it with them.