We Are Parenting the Post 9-11 Generation

Sometimes, it feels like I can’t remember life before 9-11.

It’s the same feeling I got after I had my son, Ben. Within a week, it was almost like I couldn’t remember what life was like before I had him. Neither of those two things is true, of course. I can vaguely remember being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted -- take naps, go out to eat in peace, spend two hours making dinner for my husband and myself. Likewise, I can vaguely remember a time before 9-11, a time when war was something I read about in history books or heard about on news reports from other countries. Terrorist attacks were a foreign notion, and war was unfathomable. It’s hard to remember what it was like to be so peaceful and innocent. It’s hard to remember what it was like to be so naïve.

I was in my senior year of high school that day, and like the rest of the country, experienced the flood of emotions: fear, anger, grief, shock. At school, we watched as the second plane flew into the second tower. We watched as people chose to jump to their deaths in order to escape the fiery hell burning inside the buildings. We listened to the tearful phone calls from on board the hijacked planes and wept at the loss of the heroes aboard Flight 93. We mourned the loss of the men and women who gave their lives to try to save others, the ones who ran in while everyone else was running out. The weeks following 9-11 were a blur of mourning and tears, of fear and confusion. At the time, I couldn’t understand how this happened, why it happened.

I understand now, of course. What I didn’t know, what I was never told, was that they had been trying to kill us for decades, that this was in no way the first time terrorists had attacked us. That peaceful, innocent naiveté was shattered to pieces that day.