I remember walking into Quest Diagnostics in October of 2010. First thing I noticed was a baby cuddled between a blanket in a car seat, nestled next to a woman. I had no idea who she was because the baby was so young and the only perception I had of someone who’d just given birth, was that she’d be in the hospital for several weeks. So, surely it was not the mother. But who else?
Because I’ve never met a stranger, a trait I inherited from my dad, I began to ask questions. How old is he? 4 days. Is that your baby? How ignorant of me, as I reminisce about how this conversation transpired. “Yes” the lady answered.
I was 7 months at the time. Small chat kept me occupied as I waited in the lobby alongside this lady, that I’d come to know as Danielle. A single mom, who’d given birth naturally, with the help of a doula. Her child, Kingston.
I talk a great deal about forming bonds with other mothers and networks as well as extended support through family and friends. So, I figured it was necessary to tell you about this one that I formed back in 2010. We exchanged numbers and the rest was history. We are still friends to this day and our sons have formed a bond as well. (when they are not fighting like siblings) laughs*
Danielle recently posted a status on Facebook, which caught my attention. It caused me to think about the realistic concerns that we have as single mothers. I have spoken before about the importance of having an emergency contact list, and a POC in cases of emergencies. Danielle’s post was one of those cases where the emergency contact list would come into place. It puts into perspective, what it is like sometimes, to be a single mother.
“When you almost choke on a strawberry and realize your emergency contact most of the time is your 7-year-old son, then you gotta go over “if mommy passes out and she is not playing” drills…You get a true sense of what partnership is. Get hopeful for what you want partnership to be. Get anxious about if you’ll live long enough for your child to survive on his own? Have I taught him enough? Does he know how much I love him? All this crossed my mind in a matter of seconds.” (Danielle)
After reading this post, I immediately thought back to a time when my son was only a few months old and we lived alone in a Townhome. One night, while I lay asleep upstairs with him next to me, I was awakened by the sound of what I thought to be someone breaking in. I jumped from the bed, pressed my ear against the closed bedroom door to confirm the sound. I did not have a landline in the home and my cell phone… who knows? Why didn’t I call the police? Not sure, as all of this happened in a matter of seconds.
My son was waking up and beginning to cry. He was a colic baby, so I was worried that whomever was in the house, was about to come right to us. I had to think fast. I knew I could not remain in that room and wait for tragedy to strike the both of us. I picked my son up from the bed, wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a large plastic storage tote that was next to the bed. I placed my index finger over my lips, signaling to him, please be quiet. We locked eyes almost as if we had an understanding. He didn’t make one sound. I partially covered the container, leaving more than enough open for him to breath and see light.
My heart was thumping out of my chest. I grabbed my firearm and proceeded to the bedroom door. I opened it and drew my weapon, ready to shoot to kill whatever was on the other side. No one was there. I walked to the adjacent bedroom. Nothing. Body shaking, I made my way down the stairs. Afraid for my life, I screamed out a warning. I wanted the burglar to know that I had a gun, in hopes that he/she/they would flee. Nothing. Now I am standing in the downstairs living room, where I have full view of the whole downstairs. Nothing and no one was there. I did a thorough check of the house and went back upstairs. I uncovered the tote and there he was just lying there being silent. I picked up my son and just cried.
In telling the story, it seems as if all of this took place over several minutes. However, it didn’t. Everything happened quickly and there was no time to think of a solid plan or to rationalize with thoughts. I had a small townhome and perhaps I thought the odds were in my favor to face the danger, rather than wait on a cop to show up.
After all of this happened, I couldn’t help but to think about the fact that there was no safety plan in place. There was no escape route. There was no plan of action.
Now that our boys are older, she and I have had to somewhat rely on them to be able to act on knowing what to do in the event of an emergency. Being single mothers, this often-times is the case, especially when there is no family around. I have done mock demonstrations with Cornelius, where we’ve staged a 911 phone call on what information he would need to be able to give to the operator.
I have also implemented an exit route that no one knows about but the two of us, where I had to find creative ways for him to know that it should be kept between the two of us. I have posted emergency numbers around the house, and without terrifying him, I routinely go through a safety check, where I have him demonstrate to me that he knows what to do.