Friday, September 9, 2011

Every Mom's Nightmare...Do You Have a Plan?

I remember my first anxiety attack holding my first newborn baby in a public area. I had horrible visions of somebody hurting her, taking her, or the possibility I may not be able to protect her. I talked to my mom about all these horrible thoughts and fears I was having. She assured me that every new mother goes through similar anxieties. She told me that my world had been changed in a huge way and my job as a mother came with overwhelming concern and worry. She told me to get used to it, but to know moms everywhere are dealing with the same wories and fears.

Okay, so I know now that she was right. There is that rush of uncertainty, that fear I may not be able to protect my baby or child  from kidnappers, carjackers, or psychopaths randomly shooting people. As mothers we deal with our worries and fears each in our own ways. We manage and move on with our lives.

Yesterday I was watching the news and talking to my husband about the most recent public shooting. The one in Carson City Nevada at IHOP. I answered a few questions the best I could for my oldest daughter. And it hit me...HARD! Those fears and anxieties we had (and still have occassionaly) that may or may not have been credible at the time, are now becoming seriously credible!

For a moment stop and think about that.

Over the last year there have been many shootings in very public places. I don't need to make a list here, we have all read and seen the news stories. From meals out, grocery shopping, and even loading the kids in the car in a parking lot; the risk of being caught in a violent situation seems to be going up.

I told my daughter that I often times resist going out as a family because these fears are now becoming real threats. It isn't JUST the fact that as a family of 7, a dinner out even somewhere as simple as Olive Garden wracks up a $120 + bill and the chaos of eating out with children ranging in age from 3 to 16 is more work for me out than having the control of our own enviornment at home. (Those are both very serious reasons why we don't go out much at all though).

Now there is a real concern and threat that we may get stuck in a horrible situation of violence. If we were out to breakfast at an IHOP, for example (which is a restaurant our children enjoy and the chosen example for obvious reasons) we would be spread out around a large rectangular table in the middle of the dining room. Seven people just don't fit in one of those nice comfy booths. If a crazed gunman were to come in and start shooting, how could I protect my family? Who would grab the baby? If one was in the restroom would they stay and hide in there? How would we make sure everyone got down and didn't just freeze in fear?

I am not trying to incite panic or encourage people not to go out with their families and I don't mean to sound like a crazy woman. But while I was talking to my husband about the recent shooting, I made a sarcastic remark about having a family plan. One of his eyebrows went up, he gave me that look (that you may be on to something look), and I realized that isn't a bad idea.

Our children hear about these attacks on TV, from friends, online news sources, and of course their parents talking about it. Its not a big secret. There is no reason to try and hide reality from them. So why not have a family plan in case of an emergancy outside the home? They have lockdown drills in schools, earthquake drills, fire drills, and such. So why shouldn't we have our own plan if something bad happens?

We are a family of 7, as I said before. Our ages range from 40 to 3. If we are in Target and the power goes out in a thunder storm and their back up power fails (like it did last month) my children need to know that standing in the isle screaming at the top of their lungs is not part of our plan. Yes, my 8 year old did that. (The funny part was that 3 minutes before the power went out she was asking me what would happen if the lights went out from the storm. I of course told her all about the back up generators and how everything would be just fine. Then darkness and multiple screaminig kids! Then everyone pulled out their cell phones/flash lights and made their way slowly to the front of the store. So much for backup generators.)

Anyway, we decided to have a family meeting and discuss it with our kids. Every family has their own dynamics and therefore would have a different plan. I am not trying to suggest what kind of plan you might make. I just can't imagine going through what all those people having a lovely family breakfast did last week in Carson City. However, explaining to my children to immediatly get down and behind me and daddy should we ever be caught in a scary situation like that, somehow gives me a little peace of mind. And since its impossible to shut all of our children and ourselves in the house forever, it just seems like common sense.

So, I encourage you to sit down with your family, talk out a plan that would work for you (based on age and maturity levels). That way, in the event you are caught in one of these nightmares you have a chance to make it to counseling,  together as a family.