By Penny Moore
Eighteen and a half years ago, life as we know it as Americans changed. I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband and I had just learned the week before that we were expecting our first child, and we could not have been more excited. That alone was a life-changing event.
However, this particular day was different. It was a Tuesday; I was working in a single-wide trailer on the building site of a hotel down at Lake Oconee while John was commuting back and forth to Atlanta. The corporate hustle and bustle had been our life since graduating from college, and we loved it. There was nothing – other than the commute we both had in opposite directions – that we would have changed.
That morning around 8:50 a.m., my mother called me, as we didn’t have reliable internet access in our “modular offices,” to tell me that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. She knew that I had a flight out the next day, Sept. 12, to attend the Windows on the World Hospitality Public Relations Gala in the North Tower of The World Trade Centers. As mothers often do, she was worried about me going, and she suggested that I cancel my trip. I reassured her that it was probably fine. As we all now know, it wasn’t. We soon learned that our country had been attacked by terrorists and that the “normal” in America would never be the same.
While I am sure somewhere (down deep) I was worried about the “big picture” for our country – travel, business, stocks, and all of the other things that go along with a national crisis – all I could force myself to think about was the world I was bringing a child into. Was it safe? How would raising a child in war-time affect the baby’s life? I found myself obsessing about the safety and future of my unborn child: Would she be able to attend school “like normal?’’ Would she be able to go shopping with friends when she got older? Would she be able to live the life her dad and I had always dreamed of providing to her? Would she be able to have a “normal” life and enjoy being a kid?
As it turns out, yes. An emphatic YES! Her life has been absolutely amazing. She has earned academic honors at school, made good friends, acted in plays, played in the band, played tennis, traveled abroad, and made good decisions. She has also been hurt by others, experienced disappointment, made bad decisions, and through all of it, she has come through on the other side as a stronger person. She has made us more proud than she could ever understand. She is an amazing daughter and a fabulous big sister. After all of my worry and fear, she did not miss a beat and never had any idea that her life could have been any different.
And then last week happened.
Now, as that same little girl who entered the world during a time of war and fear and uncertainty prepares to graduate from MCHS and leave our home for her own life as a UGA student and an adult, we are facing another national crisis. Her senior year is coming to a close, and instead of spending time with friends, stressing about finals, planning senior skip day, looking for prom hair ideas, and finding a dress for graduation, she is at home, “social distancing” from her friends and completing her IB assignments online via Zoom and Google Classroom.
I will be honest, she is taking this a lot better than I am. She has always been able to “roll with the punches” a lot better than I was ever able to (those of you who know the two of us know that well!). But my heart hurts for her. All of those milestones that we have planned for and talked about for years are suddenly becoming less of a reality. She has not complained; she always seems to find the best side of the worst story, and for that, I am so thankful.
As our grandparents used to say, “this, too, shall pass.” And it will. In five years we will look back at this and giggle with the things we did (hoarding toilet paper, really? It’s a respiratory virus, not a stomach virus!) and the ways we spent our quarantine time. But for now, I will appreciate the unplanned time I have with my daughter. Social distancing, as inconvenient as it has been, has allowed me the time to spend with her that so many other mothers did not get before their children left home. Perhaps, in some crazy way, this was a blessing in disguise . . .
I pray for God’s hand in healing, supporting, and guiding our country during this time. He has a plan. Take this time to unplug and get back to “the basics of life.” It is a gift, even if we don’t like the wrapping.