January 6th 2021 was a Wednesday. It was like any other Wednesday until it wasn’t.
There’s been a lot of jokes going around on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media platform about how 2021 had to be better, it just had to be. I was hopeful it would be.
That Wednesday started out like every other day had that week. We got up with the kids, had breakfast, checked our emails. My husband made me a cup of coffee and gave me a quick kiss before walking downstairs for his new commute to working from home.
It was a nice day; we played inside, the kids asked for snacks every few minutes and we ate lunch outside. We laughed, made jokes, drew pictures.
I got an alert on my phone about the protest happening at the Capitol. I was scared. Not hurt, not angry, scared. I got on Twitter and looked for more information. I ran downstairs to see that my husband knew what was happening, and we both agreed- the kids shouldn’t see this because we didn’t know what could happen at any moment. I was glued to my phone, texting friends who worked at the Capitol. I couldn’t understand how was this happening, why this was happening.
I am the first one to stand up for something or someone I believe in. I’m the first to be on the front lines holding a sign for a cause I believe in. But this, this was different. This was like nothing I’d ever seen before, people were chanting, they weren’t smiling, there was evil in their eyes, their was menace, and they wanted destruction.
We learned Congress and Senators were hiding in their offices, and staff members (women, of course) grabbed the electoral votes to secure them. We learned staff members were hiding and barricading the doors, staying quiet like drills in elementary schools, drills our kids will grow up to think are normal and routine.
I was sitting on the couch, waiting to hear from friends. Waiting to hear that men and women for whom I’ve personally worked were ok. I was so scared and had no idea what was going to happen from there. A video was released of people breaking windows to get into the Capitol. I started to choke up, there was a lump in my throat. I couldn’t swallow it fast enough because my sweet 4 year old asked me why I had tears coming down my cheeks.
I asked him to come sit on my lap and I called over his 6 year old sister. I had her stand next to me, so I could put my arm around her, and I told them it was a very sad day, for us, for our friends and family, and for our country. I told the kids I was going to show them something that was happening and that was making me sad and showed them a video of adults destroying property.
I told the kids what they saw wasn’t ok, and it’s something I’d never seen before and hoped to never see again. Texts started rolling in that friends and family were safe, the people I knew were safe. I was relieved, but couldn’t help wonder how long they would be safe. I was scared for what’s coming next.
Like any mother, my job was to talk to the kids. I broke it down, I explained that what happened wasn’t ok. That it wasn’t safe, and no matter what you don’t use violence as an answer. You use your words because words carry power. You don’t have to like who is in office, but you need to respect them. Above all, you trust the process and when all else fails, you get involved (in a positive way).
At dinner, we talked about what happened and how we, as a family, were safe, we in our state we were safe. My daughter said to me, “mommy at school, we have to practice hiding from bad people who would want to take me away from you and daddy. Is that what happened today? It’s a little scary.”
It’s more than a little scary when a six year old can understand what it feels like to have to hide from armed intruders, and to realize it’s totally normal to our kids.
It was important to me and my husband to talk to our kids because one day, they will learn about this in a history or civics class or current events class. When we first got pregnant we vowed to protect our kids (like every other parent) but also to always be honest with them and not shield them from the world. Both of us remember the events on 9/11 very clearly, with different experiences and feelings, but we both know where we were, what we were wearing. January 6th 2021 will be the same for so many. The more our kids know about what happened on that day, with facts and truth, the less likely history will repeat itself.