Today I’m celebrating my son’s birthday. He was born 14 August 2001. When I meet other moms who have a son or daughter who was born that same year I wonder if they felt the way I did back then.

Having a baby takes a lot of focus as any parent reading this will know. It’s difficult to think about or address anything else at that point. Infants are a lot of work. The maternal instinct to keep your child safe and happy is fierce.

In 2001 I was living in Fairfax Virginia and working in McLean, they are suburbs of Washington DC. I lived under the Dulles flight path. I was pregnant with my one and only child and in a terrible marriage. All I could think about was my baby and wondering what he would be like and how to raise him.

I was never much of a baby person and it took me a few days to get used to everything. I would never babysit infants nor would I fuss over them, I still don’t. It took some getting used to. I was very fortunate to have a dear friend come all the way from England and live with me for 5 months to help me take care of him and that helped me gain some confidence as a new mother.

Just as I was getting used to taking care of a baby… MY baby, I woke up one morning and my security came crashing down. I turned on the news just in time to see a report about a plane that flew into one of the twin towers. Usually at 9 AM  I would have been at the office with my boss who was a lobbyist but I was still on maternity leave, I was right at the end of the 4 weeks I had off. So time line, I have my son 14 August, almost a month before 9-11.

Watching those events unfolding that day scared the crap out of me. Not only was my country being attacked but my city was being attacked. The only reason I didn’t get stuck in the exit traffic was because I was on leave. As the second plane flew in to the second tower, I felt my stomach leap into my mouth. I started feeling insecure about what was happening. I woke up my friend, I didn’t even tell her what happened or try to describe it, I just said “You have to come see what’s happening!”. When she got in front of the TV that’s when the Pentagon was hit. I was really uneasy then I thought “How many places are they targeting?”,  “How safe am I?, How safe is my baby?” It was scary.

Although I knew it was a life changing event and that it would have long lasting affects on this country, I still couldn’t process. I barely processed it. I got annoyed that programming on TV was preempted  for a week  and that football was canceled.

I also had a more personal event going on, my failing marriage. It was intensely bad yet all I could focus on was taking care of my son. My focus was so intense I couldn’t think about the fact that my husband wasn’t coming home after work most nights until 11. I couldn’t think about his lack of provision or interest in taking care of our baby. All I could think about was my baby. My friend, who is a true friend, kept insisting I do something to resolve it, she was relentless and she was right.  She finally got so frustrated that she left a month earlier than she planned. I was upset and hurt but I now understand why she left. I realized after she left that she was right, that I needed to address my situation.

In March 2002 I left. I felt I was doing the best thing for my child and felt I could protect him better by changing the environment we were in. I began to understand my friends frustration with the situation and I reached out to her and after just a few months we resolved the issue and have moved on. She took a great risk in being frank, had I not understood, it could have ruined our relationship.

It took me 2 years to process what happened on 9-11. 2 years!!! I was watching a documentary on TV and I was in total grief. I cried for a few days. I didn’t even know that people jumped out of the buildings before that documentary yet I watched the whole thing unfold before my eyes on TV.

I now appreciate, more than ever, what being a parent is about. I reached out to understand what happened on that day and why, I educated myself by reading books and reaching out to people of different communities. I learned how important my friendships really are. My time line was interesting with all the events that took place in my life all at once.

I often wonder how other moms felt that day, especially new moms. How did other moms feel bringing their first child into the world that seemed so chaotic? How did they deal with it? How did it change the way they raised their children?