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Moms hug kids a little tighter this Mother’s Day

Donna DanielsStaff Writer

Mother’s Day this year takes on a deeper meaning as we remember the events of Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks left all of us feeling less secure in the world. Mothers fear more than ever for their children.The Post Independent spoke with five mothers who all see their role as mothers changed in some way after that day.Deborah Schoeberlein is the mother of Raphael, 5, and Mirelle, 2, and a magazine writer and editor who lives in Carbondale. She grew up in New York City. The destruction of the World Trade Center buildings was especially frightening for her.It also took on a new meaning when she realized that, unknown to her and husband Joede, Raphael saw some of those terrifying images on television.”We first heard about it on the radio. Then we turned on CNN, thinking the kids were still asleep,” she said.But while they were watching, Raphael had come down the stairs and saw the replay of the first plane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers.”We hiked up Red Hill, the whole family. We needed to be together and have the kids with us and do something that was not linked with the media,” she said, recalling that day.”For four months afterward, Raphael talked about the World Trade Center every day. He played out the planes (hitting) with his blocks; he drew it, until he mastered it,” she aid.Because she was acquainted with play therapy, she knew what her son was doing was a creative way to deal with a horrifying experience. After Sept. 11 she had a heightened sense of her responsibility as a mother.”A lot of people said they felt life was safe before but not afterward. I felt clearly that life was not safe before, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.”I realized we have got be kind and careful and realistic with our children, to help them realize that you can do a great deal to be safe, but you can’t control everything,” she said.”Part of being a mother is showing you can live through adversity. I wanted to believe that you can keep your child safe and secure and sheltered, but you can’t completely,” she said.Most importantly, she hopes to make sure her children understand “people of different nationalities and different skin colors are people just like us. There are good guys and bad guys everywhere.”For Libby McNeill, a teacher at Sopris Elementary in Glenwood Springs, Sept. 11 had an immediate impact. McNeill’s 20-year old son Taylor is in the Army, and was on maneuvers in Germany.She was sure he’d be called up to fight in Afghanistan.”You know, when 9/11 happened, I was a basket case. I was so worried,” she said.She wondered at the time why she didn’t argue against his joining up.”He said, `Mom, do you want to worry about me drinking too much in school and not studying or help me get this out of my system?'” she laughed.Although she worries, more than anything she is proud of her son. Three generation of men in her family have served their country.McNeill’s husband, Rick, served in the Army. In fact, he attended Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga., across the street from the Ranger training school that Taylor will graduate from next week.McNeill’s father was a Navy pilot in World War II and her son-in-law Jeff Cheney was in the Judge Advocate General Corps and is now in the Army Reserve and on a SWAT team in Fort Collins.For all her pride in her son, indeed in all her children, McNeill said it’s a long haul raising kids.”You begin to reap the benefits if you live long enough,” she said. “A lot of it is perseverance. You have to have perseverance to go through the tough times.”This week, McNeill picked up a special license plate she ordered. It bears the initials EFCEM, which stands for “endurance for climbing every mountain,” a phrase that means a lot for her and Rick.”We put it on our wedding rings 35 years ago and we’re still here, by damn,” she said.-In a sense, Abby Lochhead, a Glenwood Springs nurse and mother of Koby, 20, and Ian, 17, saw Sept. 11 as an affirmation.”It strengthened my belief that we are here as adults to take care of kids. They really are our future,” she said. “We have to stay focused on what good there is in the world. We won’t make it through the awful things unless we stay focused on the good,” she said.Lochhead said Sept. 11 and its aftermath brought her back to the values of the ASSETS program, which she once organized in the community.”Its mission is about what kids need in their lives to develop into healthy, productive adults. The 40 building blocks talk about people connecting in a positive way, and adults being wise and sharing that wisdom. It’s knowing they need our time,” she said.-Cathy Tuttle heads up the Glenwood Springs Transportation Demand Management program. She is also the mother of 4-year-old Jessie.Her initial reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was sadness, she said, “for all the children whose moms are missing. I tried not to focus on it too much, it was too scary.”The attacks also made her appreciate how lucky she and her family are to live in the valley. It’s important, she said, to be involved in ensuring the community stays a safe and beautiful place to live and raise children.The frightening events made her appreciate even more the wonderful gift of having a daughter.”I hug her more,” she said. “All moms worry about their children’s safety. You just appreciate every day with them,” she said.Tuttle also thinks about Jessie’s immediate future.”You just want her to be a smiling, happy child,” she said.-For Cyndy Hallford, Sept. 11 was a wake-up call. Hallford works at the Beattie and Chadwick law office in Glenwood Springs and is the mother of Zach, 14, and Daniel, 16.”It made me think about the future and where my children will be going. It just makes you think that the world is not a safe place. “My heart went out to parents of young people who died,” she said. A story she heard from a friend on the East Coast brought the tragedy into sharper relief. A friend’s son who worked on Wall Street, which is near where the World Trade Center stood, was late for work that day and avoided the catastrophe.”I thought of her and how relieved she must be,” Hallford said.Judging from these five mothers, this day will be about more than flowers and presents for Mom.It will be a day to embrace children a little closer.


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