9/11: What Kind of World Did I Bring my Two Babies Into?

Momservation: The terrorists are still attacking America; it’s just not those I thought it would be.                                                                 ***

My 22 month old son, 5 month old daughter, and dog Kyber on 9/11/2001 watching Elmo. We turned the channel to see the last of the Twin Towers fall

Where was I on 9/11? I was taking a picture of my 22 month old son and 5 month old daughter looking so adorable sitting and watching Elmo’s World—my son’s favorite episode about Bugs.

My husband called from work to tell me I should turn on the news, he heard on the radio something major was going down in New York.

I hated to take Elmo away from my kids—the structure of our morning routine was a life-saver for a stay-at-home mom of two kids under two. But I could sense in my husband’s voice this was more important.

I saw one office tower and it was spewing a terribly black smoke. The first Tower had already crumbled and the news reporters sounded bewildered, devastated and scared. They were replaying the fall of the first Tower and I was confused, not realizing I was watching only one Twin Tower still standing, not the replay of a smoldering NY office tower collapsing. “What could so quickly bring down such a tall building? How could a 4-story fire near the top of a building do that?” I wondered still not grasping the magnitude of what was actually happening.

And then the second Tower fell and the whole world gasped in shock, disbelief and despair.

I was confused. Everyone was confused. No one knew what was going on. But as the news did a recap, piecing together footage as it came in of commercial airliners plunging into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, with new reports of hijacked planes and other targeted US landmarks—I knew how I felt. Scared.

I was scared because I sensed the world had changed and I couldn’t move my babies out from under the dark, ominous cloud that was descending quickly enough.

Not knowing what babies can internalize and imprint on their brain, I whisked these pure souls away from the traumatizing images on the TV.

What I saw when I turned the channel from Elmo’s World

I moved them into their high chairs in the next room, hurriedly got them distracted with breakfast and turned down the TV. I perched myself between the two rooms where I could supervise my children while trying to collect information for fight or flight. I interacted with them in a sing-songy voice not wanting them to pick up on my horror over what I was witnessing, the terror for my own young family.

What kind of world had I just brought two babies into?

As the hours, days and weeks unfolded painting a clearer picture, I couldn’t shake an unsettling sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Extremist terrorism had bloodied United States soil and breached our sense of security and invincibility.

War had been declared on America using our own people as bombs. Where would they strike next? Who would be the next victims?

I cried so many tears of sorrow for the loss of the wondrous, ideal world I’d hoped to show my children as the world’s next war broke out. I didn’t feel I could take them anywhere; not Disneyland, not the beach, not the local park without fear that someone would think our American ways deserved to be obliterated no matter the innocents involved.

The innocent lives of children didn’t give pause anymore. The hijackers looked right in their faces and carried on.

It’s been 18 years and the world did change that day on 9/11/2001. But not as I feared.

My young kids grew up with no visceral or emotional reaction to the events and effects of 9/11. They eventually learned about it in history books and remembrances, before scampering off to revel in their wondrous and amazing world.

But then the other shoe did drop. Ironically though, it belongs to the Second Amendment.

While the US was blocking the front door from global terrorists, they let hundreds of domestic terrorists sneak in the back door killing and wounding over 11,000 children, women and men.

Americans with guns is the world we are afraid of now.

Map of mass shooting since Sandy hook
courtesy of vox.com

Mass shootings have traumatized and altered my children’s perception of the world more than 9/11 because being shot at their school, at the movies, at an outdoor event, or at their local store has become a more frightening reality. Even formerly sacred places like church don’t give these terrorists pause.

My kids have no qualms or fears about removing their shoes and only bringing quart-sized liquids on a plane. They don’t look into the faces of people who look different than them and worry for their safety.

Instead, they have lock-down drills that remind them to be scared not of the people of this world, but of their own classmates who may have access to a gun—specifically an assault type rifle.

My kids have made it routine to check for nearest exits, learned to drop to the ground or run and fight back at the sound of a pop, considered getting bullet-proof backpacks, and to be suspicious of anyone looking like a young, disgruntled, white male who could be hiding a weapon or dressed in combat gear.

Yes, the world did change on 9/11 and I will never forget the innocent lives lost and the loss of innocence I feared for my children on that day.

But until our government goes after the threat that these domestic terrorists present—mass shooters with assault rifles using our own innocent people as targets on a frighteningly regular basis—like they did with global terrorists, it’s not the world I fear for my children. It’s their home.

I hope by the 20 year anniversary of 9/11 we will give our children back a home they are not frightened to live in.

#9/11  #AlwaysRemember  #StopDomesticTerrorism

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