For the third time in our marriage, my husband stared at a monitor, warning me about what was coming but talking me through it and reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. The first two times this happened, he was watching the contraction monitor I was hooked up to while in active labor. This time, he was watching the Doppler Radar on the Weather Channel.
The storms that ravaged the south over the past few days were heading through town this morning, much less dangerous by now, with the threat of tornadic activity largely eliminated. But still, they were calling for potentially severe thunderstorms with potentially damaging winds.
And my baby was all by himself at preschool.
Maybe not all by himself. There were 13 other children and two very capable adults sharing the room with him, and countless other capable and protective adults in the building....but I wasn't one of them.
He woke up in the morning already concerned. "I listened to the wind all night," he said, "do you think our trees are safe?" I don't know where he learned to be worried about storms and wind. We didn't teach him that...I guess that's one of those things that doesn't need to be taught.
I reassured him that, though the winds are strong, we're safe inside our home....and in school. But isn't that what all parents say? The parents in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia surely told their worried preschoolers the same thing. But not all of them were safe....and even some of the "lucky" ones lost everything. What then?
We had a normal, laid-back morning....I tried to hide my surreptitious glances out the window at the gathering, darkening clouds....and he was happy to leave the house for school. He asked a few more questions about the wind and the dark sky on the ride to school, but they seemed largely of the information-gathering variety...not rooted in fear or worry. When we arrived at the classroom, he bounded in, without a backward glance and hardly a wave goodbye. I warned his teacher about his anxiety-filled night, though, and told her to call me if he expressed any concerns while at school. The storms were predicted to stay largely to our west, but there was the possibility that they would drift our way, and the worst of it was to be in the late morning hours. I told her that I would remain close by, running errands just a few minutes away, and that I'd come back and get him early if it started to look bad.
And then I left him.
To face a storm without me. For the first time. And for the first time, I would be without him....I wouldn't be the one to say the words, "the winds are strong but we're safe," whether or not I actually believed them....would he be okay? Would I? Is this what the parents in the south thought as they were tucking their children into bed as the storms were approaching? I feel sick thinking about those families.
And so I got in the car and called Sam. "Check the radar!" I pleaded, "Where are the storms? What are they predicting? Should I go back in and get him?" Sam checked the radar and calmed my fears. I left him with explicit instructions to call me the second severe weather started to head our way.
Max and I met my sister to run some errands and I glanced, every chance I got, out the window...just waiting for the moment I expected to come, the moment where I would glance outside and just know that it was time to go and get him. While picking out fabrics for our burp cloths with my sister, Sam called, "A small storm is headed your way now. It doesn't look terrible and it looks like it's moving quickly, so if it gets bad, don't worry, it'll be over soon." I relayed the update to my sister who couldn't help but smile: "It sounds like he's talking you through a contraction!" She needs to be a doula.
So we made it through the morning, my sister distracting me with random stories and her adorable kids, and Sam calling me, reassuring me, and making the decision for me to leave Evan at school...because he's safe there.
The storms never materialized here....I spent my whole morning worrying for nothing. The severe weather stayed to our west and the worst we got was an ominous sky and some rain. Looking outside now, the sun is shining and the ground is dry. We might even go outside to play when Max wakes up.
This is yet another example of my worrisome nature....the same worry-gene that I passed on to my little boy. Sorry, Evan. But I worry because I love....and though I can't understand what those Moms and Dads in the South are going through right now...the parents who lost everything....I can empathize with them and my heart can break for them.
And the other lesson learned: Though I love, love, love the spring, I hate, hate, hate spring storms.