It was a few days after my son’s second birthday. The day began, hurried as most and late as usual. I was doing my best to reach the office by 9 a.m. I hadn’t quite mastered the art of juggling work and parenthood (Do we ever? Perhaps that’s a question for another blog post). But, I remember enjoying our time together after settling into the car for our 20 minute commute to his child care provider. It was our special time, talking and singing to our favorite music on the radio.
My search for a child care provider was typical of many—looking through lists, asking lots of questions, and trying to find the right person to partner with in the nurturing of my son while his father and I were at work. With extended family on the opposite coast, we desperately needed and depended on the right person. After two months, we found her. The sleepless nights were over and I began to breathe again.
This particular morning went smoothly. I arrived at her home, chatted a few minutes about how my son interacted the previous night and about our morning commute. I gave him a big kiss good-bye and was off to the second phase of my trip to work. I enjoyed my daily ride on the Metro; it provided helpful transition time to recalibrate from being a mommy to a manager. Crossing the river from Virginia to D.C. was a symbolic bridge between family and work.
When I arrived to the office, emotions were running high. I had no idea what was going on. A group of my colleagues were gathered around a workstation with the radio on. There had been a plane; it hit a tower in Manhattan. Soon a plane would hit the Pentagon, very close to home. It was about 9:20 a.m., September 11, 2001.
The rest of the day was a blur. The phones weren’t working, and we couldn’t reach anyone. The trains were shut down, and there was no way to get back across the river into Virginia. There were rumors of more attacks, explosions, threats. I couldn’t reach my son. I couldn’t reach him…
After what seemed like days, I finally was able to reach my child care provider. She was so calm, so reassuring. “He’s fine, don’t worry," she said. "We are all playing and eating and we are fine. He is safe and loved.”
At that moment, when I needed her most, when he needed her most, during one of the most challenging days in our nation’s history, my child care provider held both my son and I in her heart and in her arms.
I finally made it to her home and to my son several hours later. He was happy, safe and sound. That night, I put my son to bed squeezing him tight and holding him for hours.
I will always remember the feeling of not being able to reach him at a moment of crisis; to hold and protect him. I will always be grateful for the woman who welcomed us into her home and family and who we welcomed into ours.
The effects of that September day lasted for weeks, months and, for many of us, years. Now 14 years old, my son still talks about her. It is clear she made such an impact on him. Mostly he remembers the nurturance, care and affection she provided him. For that I am forever grateful.
Nineteen years after the events of 9/11, our country today honors the lives of those lost and those heeding the call as first responders and Service-members, citizens and helpers. May we never forget those who perished on that day and those who have lost their lives since in service to our country.
On September 11, 2020, we find ourselves again in the midst of crisis as we together face a global pandemic. And again, on a day I honor my child care provider from those many years ago and the gift she gave me on that day to be present for my child, I raise up with tremendous gratitude the child care workers across the country who have, since the beginning of the pandemic, been essential responders to the needs of children, families and communities. Whether their doors were able to remain open or partially open, or had to close, their commitment has been clear and we hear their voices and their desire to provide safe, nurturing care during crisis once again.
I am truly appreciative and thankful for all of the child care providers, first responders and other essential workers during today’s crisis and would like to express my deep condolences to the families and communities that have lost members to COVID-19.Resources:
- Helping Children Cope With Traumatic Events
- Trauma-Informed Care
- Helping Your Child Cope With Media Coverage of Disasters: A Fact Sheet for Parents
- Advocate for Child Care Relief
Editor’s note: This blog was originally posted on May 9, 2014 for Provider Appreciation Day and updated on September 11, 2020.