I remember exactly where I was that morning on September 11, 2001. I was getting ready for school when my dad called and told us to turn on the news. We watched as chaos and panic hit. I turned to my mom, wondering how people could be so cruel to one another. How could you be so full of hate? But she looked about as shocked and in disbelief as I was that day.
Years later I was teaching in the library. We read the book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein. ( I highly recommend it!) After I finished reading, one kid chimed in that he recognized the buildings in the book. It didn’t take long before another mentioned September 11th. Then a student asked the question that pounded in my head all those years ago:
“Mrs. Sacoman, why would someone do that to other people?”
I had a classroom full of children waiting. Hoping that I could explain away the evil that people can inflict on others. Looking to me as the adult, thinking surely I knew WHY.
And I didn’t have an answer.
This has been one of the hardest things for me to accept as a mother. In college, I was talking with a friend. She wanted more than anything to have a family. But that night we shared doubts. How could we bring a kid into this world so full of pain and hate?
During pregnancy, I laid in bed many nights thinking this same thought. Every time I turn on the news it seems there is another shooting or terrible event. The number of ways people can inflict pain is endless.
But that is my why.
In this world full of darkness, I can raise my daughter to be a light. My instinct is to hide and shelter her from it all. I’m only half-joking when I say we should put her in a bubble and never let her out. But that isn’t the reality. One day she will go into this world and make her mark.
So when she’s old enough to ask why, I’ll respond as I did with my students. I’ll be honest–I don’t know why. I have my own theories and beliefs about why the world is messed up. But the truth is even those fail to make sense of our world sometimes. We can’t control the hate that others spread. So instead I will focus on her actions and what she can control.
I’ll talk to her about how she can fight against the hate.
I’ll teach her that the way she acts matters. My husband and I will do everything we can to model that light we hope she will become. And I’ll pray each day that this world becomes the type of world I’ve dreamed of for my daughter. In a world with so much possibility, she deserves more.
Originally published September 2018.
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