Hurricanes and mothers

Let me just start by saying that I am overwhelmed with what has happened down in New Orleans. I have spent the last week or so very distraught, trying to figure out what to do, how to help. Come to find out that two men in the ward took off for Housten and the Astrodome. They just, took off. I said to one man's wife, "Hey, I want to do that! How did they find out about doing that?" She told me how they had managed that, and then she looked at me and said, "You can't do that, Heather. You have a kid. What are you going to do, take him with you? Or leave him for 2 weeks with somebody else? Just stay where you are, you're fine. Donate some money." We have donated some money, of course, but her words struck me. You can't do that. You have a kid. In so many ways, she's right. Am I supposed to take my child into a potential dangerous situation, and deliberately put him at risk while helping others? Should I burden somebody else with his care while I act the hero to assuage my conscience about not doing more? And the people who went were men, one who has no children, and one who is a student and could leave his children with his stay at home wife. "You can't do that. You have a kid." In Martha Beck's book "Expecting Adam" (and please, let's not open up this thread to comments about Martha Beck. I just want to say what part I liked in her book and move on), she talks about one experience she had when there was a fire in her apartment building. She was pregnant and had a toddler at the time, and she said she finally understood why there were so many references to the woes of women and children during war in the scriptures. A single woman can run, hid, fight. A pregnant woman, or a woman with a toddler in dire circumstances is, quite frankly, screwed. I'm trying to find circumstances in which the answer is "Sure you can do that, even if you have a kid." In a situation like this, though, those are harder to come by. I just hope that I can find something, and I say godspeed to those who are able to leave their children, (i.e, the MEN) to help those people who need it so desperately, because I know there are women down there who are also saying "I can't do it. I have a kid."


Blogger Jen said...

Best post I have read in a long time, Heather!

Living in New York with a toddler and a baby, I often feel that vulnerability to a degree.....how could I possibly escape any situation that needed escaping if my husband happened to be at work during the next crisis? I have enought trouble getting us (me and the babies) to the park and back!

9/09/2005 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Let's turn this around a little...I CAN do that, although I am a mother. Do what you can, focus on how you CAN help.

I'm not a cheerleader for positive thinking, but in reality, this is not about limiting options, it's about priorities.

My best friend, Laurie, once said to me (when we arguing saving the world vs. being a mom): I can't save everybody, but I can do the best I can to raise good kids and that makes the world a better place.

You young moms who are doing such a good job, you are making the world a better place, just not all at once. Who knows what good your kids will do?

9/09/2005 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Thank you for the thoughtful post, Heather. I have thought about this very thing, and not been able to put the idea to words. What would I do with my children in a crisis? How would I handle a 2 and 4 year old and my pregnant belly? It frightens me how vulnerable we are when we have very young babies, and it frightens me for them, when I think too hard on it.
I am grateful that there are selfless men and able women who are going to give of themselves to help the helpless. May H.F. bless their hands as they serve.

9/09/2005 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Sara R said...

Are women going with the church groups? I had heard that it was only men. Something about dealing with primitive bathroom conditions.

9/10/2005 02:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Marian said...

This post hit me hard, especially with tomorrow being September 11th. I was a childless NYC resident on 9/11/01, and living through the events of that day first hand changed me forever. And I KNOW it has drastically affected who I am as a mother. I try hard not to let the fears I gained that day influence my daily life, but they do. It's difficult enough to face uncertainty and disaster yourself, but to be responsible for other (small innocent helpless frightened) people is very frightening for me. In good times, I try to see the experience as helping me to be prepared for events of the future, to know where I'd go and what I'd do, to have my backpack ready to go. On bad days, I just can't face it. Luckily those don't happen all that often, just when events like the London bombings or Katrina remind me what is possible in the world. I hope that if I face those kinds of circumstances with my child(ren) I'll be prepared and be able to do it.

9/10/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

What a kind-hearted entry! Just the fact that you would drop everything and run to those in aid makes you a hero.

I have a three year old and five month old and wanted to do something in addition to donating in fast offerings. What could I do with little kids? Have a garage sale at my house and donate the proceeds! We have people coming to help and others dropping off donations in our garage. Other than making and posting signs I'm not doing a whole lot. Like Anne said, It's all about doing what you can - and not beating yourself up about what you can't. Heavenly Father knows your wonderful heart!

9/12/2005 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Great post, Heather. I agree with many of the commenters. I think that's one of the greatest challenges of our job -- to find that balance between putting our family first, but also finding ways to serve outside our homes.

A Stake RS President told us once that Pres. Hinckley was concerned that the women of the Church weren't looking beyond their own four walls. That we are needed outside our homes as well. Easier said than done, I know. However, we've probably all known women who have managed to be wonderful mothers while serving their community. It can be done, but I your point is that it probably does have to be in some other form than the obvious. We probably can't rush down to Louisianna and do what seems obvious and most helpful, but we can do something and it all helps, right?

9/12/2005 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


What a great idea! See, it's women like you who are creative with their service who are really inspiring to me. I guess you just have to look and think outside the box!

9/12/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure you can.


9/13/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


I've been there, and have my house signed up for any evacuees who need it. Apparantly, though, the registered bed far outweighs the number of evacuees actually placed. Now I don't know if there is just a disconnect between the organization and matching the offers up with the people who need it, or if there really is a surplus of available housing. But we have made it known that we are available for those who want and need a place to stay.

9/13/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I wonder if survivors are looking more for a permanent solution? If it were me, I'd try to salvage some semblance of a normal life/privacy and try to find an arrangement that affords me some independence and ability to provide for myself again. Example: Here in Omaha there are many many apartment complexes offering the first few months free giving the survivors time to find jobs as well as other organizations offering food, clothing, furniture etc. Many refugees? evacuees? have stated they plan to stay here which I think is very complimentary of our area.

9/13/2005 11:21:00 AM  
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10/08/2005 12:22:00 PM  

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