When my twins were 15 months old, I brought them to the pediatrician for a well-check. They were walking and growing fast and babbling their little heads off and when our beloved pediatrician - also a twin mom - asked me how everything was going, I burst into tears. I was mortified, but it was just.so.hard. My boys were good, easy, healthy babies and their big sister was a good, healthy, easy toddler but there were three of them, 3 and under, and there was one of me and it was just so so hard. I was - am - blessed with a ton of help and it was so hard. My husband and I had good jobs and a warm house and too much of whatever we needed (diapers alone were staggering) and it was still so hard. And I just sat there crying and my pediatrician told me the words that I have taken to heart and repeated many times since: “just put them to bed alive.”
Bless her, then and now. She totally got it. She absolved me from worrying that one had a belly button hernia (it would lead to surgery a few years later), that he cried hysterically for hair cuts (he’s obsessed with his hair now), that they weren’t eating their vegetables (still don’t). I felt like she gave me permission to skip the bath sometimes, to let one have a pinky a little bit longer. Just protect them and the rest will work itself out. It’s advice I have offered to many mothers since - just put them to bed alive.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. This week is the Delaware Primary. We are two months from election day.
When you think of putting your kids to bed alive, do you - like me - think about preventing gun violence? Do you ask about the presence of guns when you drop your kids off for a birthday party or a playdate? Because I remember so vividly turning my back for a moment and having an 18 month old twin drink white erase board cleaner (non-toxic, thank you poison control), twin toddlers dumping out all the (expensive) shampoo in my shower while the babysitter cleaned up lunch, one twin finding a bin full of toys in the basement a few weeks before Christmas (toys for tots of course! Santa brings our toys!). If it’s there, kids will find it.
Access to a gun during a period of personal crisis is often the difference between life and death. And we know that during adolescence, everything - EVERYTHING - feels like a personal crisis. Since it’s our job to put them to bed alive, please learn more about safe gun storage at besmartforkids.org, and make sure you vote if you are eligible this Thursday. Decisions are made by those who show up.
It’s our job to put them to bed alive.