The other night, I climbed up the stairs to crawl into bed. Tate was snoozing away in his crib, and I had decided to sleep in our shared room that evening.  I shut the bedroom door, locked it as I always do when we sleep in the same room, and turned on my burglar alarm (there’s a panel in my bedroom as well as on the first floor in the entryway).  When we go to sleep I set the alarm to instant, so any breach of the doors or windows causes the alarm to sound immediately instead of waiting the 45 seconds it has when simply set to ‘alarm.’

I climbed into bed and snuggled under the covers.  I had gone to bed much later than I had intended, and I was exhausted.  My head hit that cool pillow and I exhaled happily.

No more than one minute later, my alarm sounded.  Screeching and wailing throughout the house.

I sat straight up in bed absolutely terrified, while Tate simply slept away.

I was shaking with fear.

In those seconds I didn’t know what to do.

Should I leave the room and go see if it was simply a door left ajar?  A window loosened by the cat?  Wind that shook the house?  Should I simply wait for the alarm people to call and cower in my bedroom while the police came?

For reasons I can’t begin to explain, even now, I quietly opened the bedroom door, walked out, shut it behind me and looked over the railing to the second floor with my heart pounding in my chest.  I didn’t see anything or anyone with the exception of the cat, who was as frightened as I was.  I ventured to the second floor, unarmed and looked around.  Nothing.

The first floor lay beneath me awash in darkness.  I looked down the stairs to the first floor wiping my hands on my pajama bottoms as they were clammy.  I made my way down to the first floor.  Nothing out of the ordinary except the door to the garage was slightly ajar.

Had I left it that way?  Had someone opened my garage door and tried to come in? It was locked, so certainly they couldn’t have gotten in, right?  I looked through my glass front door (note to self get a solid door, though there is a gate barring entry to my door) and the garage door was closed.

I picked up the 12 pound exercise weight I leave by the garage door and made my way into the garage wielding the weight, intent on pounding someone on the head if need be.

All was clear.

I came back in and turned off the alarm, canceling it so the company would not send the police.

Trembling I locked the doors and reset the alarms.  I checked every single closet and all was clear.

Back in our bedroom I tried to calm myself and laid back down, sweaty and teary after locking our door again.  I lay there for several minutes breathing heavily staring at the door.  Scared someone was still going to try to come harm me and my baby.  I dragged my incredibly heavy rocking chair over in front of the bedroom door and only then was I able to fall into a fitful sleep.

As I did so I wished I had a gun.

Yes, a gun.

In the midst of all that is going on about gun control in this country today,  I wished I had had a gun.

And I would have used it to protect my son.  Without a second thought.

This incident occurred several weeks ago.

I feel the exact same way tonight.

I live in a state with extremely liberal gun laws.  Half of my female friends know how to shoot a gun.  A quarter of them have their concealed hand gun license.  The majority of my male friends hunt.  One of my dearest friends went to the shooting range just this past Thursday to learn to shoot for the first time after one of her employees was robbed in her office, in the presence of everyone.

Now I’m not going to run out to the shooting range, and I truly have no desire to carry a concealed handgun.  That just seems ridiculous to me, carrying a gun in my purse with my hand sanitizer;  I’m likely to confuse the two.

But that night, in my own home, what would I have done to protect us?  I do know that I am very upset with my alarm company for not calling me within 30 seconds of the alarms going off.  I had Brinks for years and they’ve been sold to ADT and service is NOT what it once was.  But hell…service?  We’re talking about my safety here.  I should have waited for them to call and kept them on the phone with me while I ‘investigated’ or better yet I should have just let the police come.  I considered calling my awesome male neighbor, but it was 11:15 and I didn’t want to risk HIS life too.  I also realize that the alarm going off as loud as it was would have scared off most intruders.  But in those 5-8 minutes it would have taken the police to arrive someone could have done real harm to Tate or me if that was their intention.

How does a single woman in a huge city protect herself in her home?  I’ve got all the safeguards in place I can think of….the alarm system, a metal gate around the front of my home, a padlocked gate in the back and glass break alarms on the first floor windows.  When Tate and I are in the room together on the third floor I lock us in the room.  I have my cell phone with me in the room (though I usually set it to airplane mode…I should stop that), and I have a land line in that room.

I also know I should turn the alarm on when we are simply in the house going about our evenings and days on the weekends (obviously not on instant for when I forget and open the door to let the cat out or open a window).  However, it should be on.

But if someone came in what would I do?



5 thoughts on “Fear”

  1. Jennifer,
    I understand what you felt. I live in a rural area, with a gun culture similar to yours. If I was outside screaming, normally no one would hear me. I grew up with guns. It is nowhere near the same, but the closest thing I can think of is, that I was taught the dangers of guns like the danger from electrical outlets, knives and crossing the road. I don’t mean to belittle the danger. It is different. But for me a gun has always been a tool. Not something good or evil on its own. I also spent twenty years working as a nurse in a trauma center ER, so I’m very familiar with the wounds and have seen all ages harmed by all kinds of weapons. For me, I have owned my own gun since I was ten years old. I spent an ungodly amount of time being trained how to use one, by multiple instructors. I respect them and take precautions. I owned guns before my son, now four, was born and continue to do so. Before my son, I worried I would hesitate to kill a human, even in fear for my life. After my son, I know I will not hesitate to take another life to protect him. I too, have left him to check a possibly unsecured house. Did the pistol in my hand help? Yes. Could very bad things still have happened? Yes. Did I sit down after the fear had cooled and plan better? Definitely Yes! My main fear was that by leaving my son, “they” would get him before I did them. I suggest you set the fear and emotions aside and decide on the best plan for you and your child, rationally, whether it involves a gun or not. Just like having a plan in case of fire, or natural disaster, we need an intruder plan. As a single mother, we are the sole protector. The hard part is deciding how best to protect them.
    Good Luck.

  2. I get the fear; I’ve had it too. Just me and my little girl in this house. But please don’t bring a gun into your home. Guns in the home are orders of magnitude more likely to injure a resident than they are to protect you. Suicide is also much more common in homes with guns.

    Instead — can you get a dog? And put a baseball bat next to your bed. And rest assured — most people will never be victims of home invasions. This country is much safer than the news might lead you to believe.

  3. I can relate. At the same time, statistics show a gun is more likely to harm a member of one’s own household than stop an intruder. But I also feel this fear. I go camping by myself and want to keep doing so as a single mama. I’ve been considering getting a pit bull actually . . .

  4. I’m dismayed by this piece. The question of how to keep our families safe is real and pressing, and there are no simple answers. I can understand the urge to reach for anything that might seem to offer safety, and there are lots of good options – alarm systems, locking doors, window bars, knowing your neighbors, neighborhood watch groups, security cameras, a cell phone to call for help, having your neighbor’s number in that phone, etc. And guns can seem like a tempting option, but the downsides are so often overlooked – The fact that a gun is more likely to be grabbed by the invader and used against you (because, chances are, the criminal is much more adept with a gun than you are). That having a gun in your home increases the chance you’ll be burglarized – because you now have something the criminal wants. That accidents happen with guns, and they often happen to the children we’re trying to protect.

  5. this is touching. how does a single mom protect herself. where i leave it is even more hard to protect oneself coz people can’t afford to have alarm systems in place and any other security measures. some residential places themselves are insecure.

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