I know you know what day it is. It’s September 11th.
I also know that for most of you, mainly my American readers, it’s a strange, somber day. You’ll spend time thinking about where you were when you first heard the news. You’ll mention to co-workers the friend of a friend who was visiting New York City that very same day. And you’ll definitely click on a few articles with the headline ‘18th Anniversary’ to do your part.
I, on the other hand, did none of those things.
I woke up smiling. I sang a joyful song a few dozen times. In fact, I ate cake for breakfast and reminisced gleefully about how wonderful the past year has been.
Let me explain.
Today is the birthday of my boy-girl twins, Stella and Cooper.
That’s right, they were born on the tragic, the instantly-recognizable, the never-to-be-forgotten 9/11.
Kind of sad, right?
Today, as I watched my babies clap their way through the sixth and seventh encour of ‘Happy Birthday’, I couldn’t help but wonder: what will it be like for them to grow up sharing their birthdays with a globally recognised tragedy?
Will nasty bullies make Twin Towers jokes?
Will they constantly feel bad for feeling so good?
Will they forever be forced to deal with awkward smiles and jokes about the day, instead of receiving an uneventful “well, happy birthday to you” like the rest of us?
I guess I’ll never be able to predict the future, but this strange confluence of events really got me thinking.
Because people, even here in Australia, often give us “the look” when we tell them our children were born on September 11th, we’ve found ourselves leaning into the European format (11.9.19), adding caveats like “it’s a weird birthday”, or avoiding mentioning the date at all.
In fact, this year we decided to schedule the party a few weeks after. But we shouldn’t have to.
It’s my job as a father, especially while my children are still young, to instil in them values and beliefs that will set them up for success in the future.
9/11 taught us that life is short and unpredictable. We shouldn’t have to apologise for being born on a certain day. Nor should we stop celebrating on a day that is worthy of celebration.
We can’t choose our birthday, but we can choose how we behave on it. Starting today, 9/11, I will choose to celebrate the birth of my children with the pride and glee it deserves, while simultaneously honouring the lives lost on that tragic day. Those two things can and will live side-by-side.
You heard it here first.