The Calm Inside The Storm
We were on our way home after a morning in Legoland. We had just finished lunch and it had started to rain. Both girls were in my car and because we had met Gavin there after his business trip in Orlando, he drove separately. He had driven ahead of us and was already out of view.
We started toward the highway, and although I could see the dark, heavy clouds ahead, I kept driving toward them. The rain began falling more heavily and the winds picked up. I thought about turning around, but then decided against it. I just wanted to get home.
Before I knew what was happening, the rain was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see anything out the windshield. Thunder and lightning were beating down around us. I started to panic. Out loud I said, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do.” Marissa answered, “Pull over.”
I couldn't get over to the right, so I pulled into a u-turn lane, parked the car, and turned on my hazards. I had never seen such a black sky before and I could barely make out the shapes of trees outside. They looked like they might blow away. Our car was rocking back and forth. I wanted to call Gavin, but knew that he was probably driving through it and wouldn’t be able to talk on the phone.
My hands shaking, I picked up my phone and called my mother’s cell phone. She answered in her usual upbeat tone as she loaded groceries into her trunk. In a trembling voice I said, “Mom, I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. We’re stuck in a storm and I can’t see anything. I’m so scared.”
“Pull over to the side of the road,” she directed.
“I did. The car is shaking and I have the girls and I don’t know what to do.”
“Where’s Gavin?” she asked.
“He’s ahead of us. I don’t want to call him because he’s driving and needs to concentrate.”
“How are the kids?” she asked. “Are they scared?”
“A little,” I told her. Marissa had unbuckled her seat belt and gotten down on the floor.
I had never been so scared in my life. I had intrusive thoughts of our car being knocked over or a street sign crashing through the glass. I wanted to keep the girls safe, but I didn't know how to protect them from the unstoppable forces of Mother Nature.
“Calm down, calm down,” my mother said. “Take a deep breath. Just stay there. Everything’s gonna be fine. Just stay there until it passes. It’ll pass.”
I kept repeating to her how scared I was and she said, “Stop saying that in front of the girls,” so I stopped.
She looked on her weather app at the radar images and told me, “Ok, you’re right in the middle of the storm, but it’s moving away from you. It’ll take about 10 minutes.”
She stayed on the phone with me and calmly talked to me about various things – the path of the storm, times when she was in a similar situation, and true to her character — cracked a few jokes to lighten the mood.
After what seemed like an hour (but was only 10 minutes), the sky began to get brighter and the rain fell a little lighter. I put the car in “drive” and slowly got back onto the highway. I turned around to find both girls asleep in their car seats. My mother stayed on the phone with me a little while longer to make sure I was ok.
I told her, “I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”
Why do I share this story? Because it was my mother’s calmness that enabled me to get through that incredibly terrifying situation. It was her calmness that conveyed the sense of authority, confidence, and assuredness that I needed from her.
Even as it was happening, I was aware of being both the child and the mother in this scenario. (Sometimes the responsibility and pressure of being the mommy gets intense, and in those moments, I want my mommy!) Part of my fear in the car was whether I could keep my own girls safe. Looking back, I realize that when I was panicked, they felt uneasy too. But when they sensed that I was becoming calmer, they also relaxed — and felt secure enough to fall asleep.
It doesn't help when everyone is freaking out, and this was a reminder that when my own kids feel overwhelmed with anxiety, frustration, fear, or confusion, the most supportive thing I can do is to stay anchored and composed, and remember: this too shall pass.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. Was there ever a time when your child was out of control, but you remained calm? How did it make you feel? What was the outcome? Please leave a comment below and let us know! Also, if you liked this post, please subscribe to the blog and share it with your friends on Facebook.