Thursday, September 15, 2011

As A Parent....

Last weekend tragedy stuck a local family. A 16 year old boy took his life, only 5 days before his 17th birthday. Let me be clear...I did NOT know this young man.

But his death has struck a chord within me and I can't seem to get him off my mind.

His step-mother and I share the same first and last name, and often have people get the two of us confused. I recently was introduced to her at the gym and we laughed about how people are always getting us mixed up. That introduction and the same name are my ONLY tie to this family.

And yet I can't get him off my mind.

This blog post is not intended to cast blame or responsibility on ANYONE. It is simply me getting my thoughts out.

Because of the same name, I received a few texts on Saturday morning. People were trying to determine if it was MY family that was dealing with the loss of a child. That's really when I started thinking.

I started thinking about how it scares the crap out of me that I am going to have a teenager in a few years....and how I realize how very quickly those "few" years are going to fly by. I then thought about how I was as a teen. And that's when it became clear to me....

As a teen, the things you experience and go through are VERY SIGNIFICANT to you. And as an adult, we often look at these teen problems and think "Oh, kid...if you only knew what REAL problems are". We forget that to them, at that point in their life, their problems are VERY real and VERY serious.

I think we get busy with our jobs, raising kids, making mortgage payment, helping ailing parents, and the rest of adult "life" that we forget how significant those teen problems/issues are when you're a teen. I thought back to the things that just completely set me off as a teenager....

They were really big and dramatic things to me at the breaking up with a boyfriend....getting singled out from the group of friends and feeling like NOBODY cared....not having some material object that EVERYONE else had, and without it, my social life was surely over.....etc.

In my almost-40-year-old hindsight, those issues are so insignificant. But as parents, we HAVE to remember how incredibly significant and devistating they felt to US as a teen. Only then will we be better able to help our own children. I know I have downplayed problems that my own children have had, because as an ADULT I know that in a few days this issue or that problem will blow over and they'll be on to something else. BUT...I think that it is so very important to remember that downplaying our kids problems is not always the answer. We have to keep perspective that to them, at that point in their life, these problems are EVERYTHING.

Again, this blog post is in NO WAY casting the shadow of blame on ANYONE. I do not KNOW the family or what the situation was behind this young man's suicide. I just know that in thinking about the situation I felt like I had to make sure I was more aware of the seriousness of the problems our kids face. No, their problems aren't on the same level as job security, financial hardships, or any of the stressful situations many adults face. a teen, at that point in their life, their problems are as stressful to them as adult problems are to adults. That is part of the way we learn.

We learn to navigate through life by dealing with issues and conflict...from the time we're very young until the day we die. Hopefully the tragedy that this family now faces will somehow help other parents to guide their own children. Hopefully we all will talk to our kids a bit more and listen even harder....hug them every day, and always make sure they know you love them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I started this post before the 11th, but couldn't seem to find the right words to finish it. So, here it is; what I had to say about the anniversary of 9/11.

It seems like you can't go anywhere on the Internet these days without seeing someone's thoughts on 9/11. With the tenth anniversary looming on the horizon, people are talking....people are remembering.

Ten are my thoughts on 9/11 as we approach the 10th anniversary.

Ten years ago I was a new Mom, trying to get some sleep and the phone kept ringing. Honestly, the phone was irritating me. It was my husband and I was irritated because the baby was finally sleeping so I was trying to get some sleep too. You see, the baby was a little over 3 weeks old, so Grandma had gone home and the hubby had gone back to work and I was on my own with the little man.

....and the phone kept ringing....

Argh...I finally figured that he wasn't going to stop calling over and over so I should answer. He said something to the effect of "turn on the have to see this". I relented and turned on the tv. I sat there for hours.

I sat there and held my new baby close and wondered what kind of world we had just brought this baby into. I sat there and watched.

I watched as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. I watched as people jumped from the windows. I watched as people ran from the buildings. And I watched as the buildings crumbled.

I watched in disbelief.

I watched and I wondered...I wondered how this was going to change our world. I thought of that change in very broad terms, never really taking a minute to think that the events of that day would impact me and my family in a very direct way, albeit years later.

See, Schuyler was just a kid then. He had been here to meet his new cousin and do a little back-to-school clothes shopping with Grandma. He was a kid, getting ready to start another year of high attend football games and go cruising with his friends.

And as I watched the events of that horrific day unfold, never did the thought cross my mind than in a little over 7 years, the events of 9/11 would directly impact my life and the lives of my entire family....

September 11th was really just the beginning of everything changing. It was that pivotal moment in history where my life changed. I didn't see the direct impact that day, but years later the direct impact was seen and felt.

Lots of people answered the call of duty on that day, 10 years ago. Firefighters, police, emergency responders, clergy, and many others rushed to help. They heard their own call of duty and went...

...thousands of others heard their call of duty and enlisted. One may have chose Army while his buddy chose Marines, but each heard their own call of duty and answered.

Boys on 9/11/2001 became men and enlisted to do their part to help. I remember a conversation that Schuyler and I had after his first tour was over. He did not have to go on the 2nd tour with his new unit because he had only recently returned. But he was going...he was volunteering to go on that 2nd tour. I couldn't understand why he would do that. We talked about it a lot and he explained that he was volunteering so that maybe another random person....a random person with a spouse and kids at home....might not have to go. He felt like he didn't have heavy responsiblities at home so it was the right thing for him to do to volunteer to go back.

He heard his own call of duty and he answered it.

And I think, in his own way, early in 2009, he knew the danger was getting closer. He knew that not only was it possible, but very probable that he would face that danger head on, and perhaps not live to tell that tale.

I watched coverage yesterday for an hour or so. I watched the children of 9/11....they progressed from infants to 9-10 year olds. Kids that never knew their Daddies. And as I saw them I thought of the two families who also lost a soldier on 2/24/2009, and how one family shares the same burden as those children of 9/11....a child that never knew his Daddy.

A day never goes by that I don't think about Schuyler or the Thompson, Stream, and Bunting families. We are united by a tragedy that none of us wanted to face. We remember and we hope others remember, because within that memory, they all live on.