CEO Juliette Kayyem, aka “Security Mom”, Reflects on Mother’s Day

As we approach Mother’s Day this coming weekend, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the important work we all do to protect our families. I am a self-proclaimed “security mom.” For me, that means a professional who focuses on security for her customers and a mother who strives to protect her home and family. Now as the CEO of Zemcar, the most trusted rideshare for kids, I know that obligation extends to our community of riders and drivers.

A “security mom” is someone who seeks to minimize all risks, maximize defenses, and still maintain who we are as a society, community, and family. This, of course, applies to dads, grandparents, and other caregivers too but it’s not your day on Sunday!  

So, a little bit of a throwback to my book and one of my favorite passages that made me realize that every parent is, ultimately, a “security” parent.

How could I explain that we all had the capacity to build more resilient communities, one home at a time, using the same skills we have mastered at home: grip, flexibility, planning, backup plans? Then, in 2011, my cousin Karen wrote me an email. The subject line read: “Al Qaeda.”

Karen is a little older than me, with daughters who are already out of college. She is a dentist, and she has, over the years, scolded me for barely flossing. Thankfully, she also gives me great advice for how to address my deteriorating gum situation (read above re: flossing). I try to return the favor when I can.

“Hi Juliette,” she began. She continued:

Can you help? Debbie is in Pennsylvania and she wants to go to NYC for the weekend. But I just saw that they think there could be a ten-year anniversary attack there, so I don’t want her to go. She says I am crazy. I said I would contact you. Would you send your kids? By the way, how are your gums? Are you flossing? Don’t forget to sleep with your night guard. And let me know about the terrorists.

Dental care and bin Laden: never before have the two been so closely aligned. But there was something illuminating in Karen’s questions. She wanted to assume a certain amount of responsibility for her daughter’s safety, but she didn’t know where to begin. Her email clarified what I had always suspected – there is something missing from our nation’s security efforts.

Karen just wanted the lowdown: Tell me about these scary things, whether they are terrorists, natural disasters, or viruses. Tell me how it works and what I should do to protect my loved ones. Tell me what you would do if it was your child who wanted to travel this weekend. Tell me just like I would tell you about your gums.

Simply: Bring it home.

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