Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thoughts on Motherhood : Weathering the Storm

I have a deep rooted fear of thunderstorms that stems from a long line of women in my family who jumped out of their skin at first the clap of thunder. My sweet Mammaw was traumatized by her grandmother whom she lived with as a teenager. Whenever a thunderstorm brewed, the two of them would squeeze into a closet to hug, squeal, and cry their way through the storm.

This in turn, made Mammaw a total mess as an adult and she was kind enough to pass her fear onto me. She forced my Pappaw to build a storm garage at the bottom of a long driveway next to their home. I suppose she thought that it could shelter her from any storms. They lived in Canyon Lake, Texas not far from the lake. Being so near the water produced some pretty amazing lightning.

If a storm came in the night while I was having a sleep over, she would jolt me out of my sleep, toss me out the front door to run like a scared lunatic through the rain and thunder. The darkness would be cut with flashes of light as we darted through the rain. The wind would swoop up behind me and almost push me into her car. Then we would all drive down to the storm garage to wait for clear skies. It was terrifying. We would all sit in the hot car and wait and wait. Lightning would snap and thunder would clap as we all held on for dear life.

You can only imagine what this experience did to me. I am determined not to pass my own fears onto my boys. This resistance has made me over-enthusiastic when a thunderstorm hits. I get all "fake excited" and act ridiculously cheerful during bad weather. In a high pitched voice I'll shout "Oh boy, that was a big flash, let's all get ready for the thunder!" The house will rattle and I'll clap my hands and yell "Oh boy, isn't this exciting?!"

The boys look at me like I'm insane, which I am, of course. It doesn't help that we have had some pretty intense weather over here lately. Early the other morning, it thundered so loud that it threw a picture hanging over my bed off the wall. Pulled out of a deep sleep by the loud bang and a falling frame, I screamed "OH MY GOD!" as I shot out of bed.

I heard Koen screaming in his crib "Thunder, too loud Mama!" I ran in and grabbed him. We both literally shook in each other's arms in the rocking chair as the storm blared all around us. I envisioned my Great-grandmother holding Mammaw in the same way and remembered trembling in Mammaw's as a small child. "The fear stops here" I said aloud as I kissed Koen's head and tried my hardest to remain calm.

I must stop the cycle.


singedwingangel said...

I mam still terrified of storms. When I was about 9 I was sleeping soundly in my bed. Suddenly our safe, built by my parents house was rocked by a streak of lightning hitting the generator out back. Taking our power, sending smoke and flames flying through the heating ducts and scaring the life outta me. My mom and my sister ran to the hall calling for me and each other. We spent the remainder of the night snuggled together in mom's bed. Since that day they terrify me. Even more so now that I live in the middle of the hill, with streaks that land on the hill across from us as well as the field beside us.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Leigh, this story made me both laugh and get choked up a little. Before moving to SC, we lived (and I was born) in Texas (in a part of the "Tornado Alley") and I've always been super scared of tornados. I wonder if somewhere down the line in your family history there was a bad tornado?

Anyway, this was really great writing--I enjoyed this. Somehow I have a feeling you will stop the cycle. If anyone can do it you can.

Dixie Mom said...

Bless your heart...those lightening storms can be terrifying. We lived in KC for 11 years and for 10 of them my youngest daughter would scurry for the basement under the stairs and wail during every storm. She finally conquered her fears the year before we moved. I think it was because the first year we lived there we came pretty close to experiencing a tornado up close and personal. Those are pretty scary if you haven't grown up familiar with them.

Jenn said...

I have a pretty healthy fear of storms myself. I actually live in the general part of Texas you mentioned, and .... well, one of those storms took the life of my brother 12 years ago. It's been a rocky road attempting to balance my understandable/realisitic fears with living life as it is today and, yes-stopping the cycle.

KT said...

When I was little I was scared of storms too. But my dad helped cure me. When there was a big thunderstorm during the night he came into my room. We sat on my bed and he explained about how the lightning makes thunder and how we can see the light of the flash before the sound gets to us. We talked about the speed of light and the speed of sound. Then he told me that for every second it took the sound to get to us the lightning was a mile away. (I know, not technically accurate, but close enough and easy for a little kid to remember.) Then we sat on my bed and watched the storm and counted how long it took the sound of every flash of lightning to get to us. We could tell then if it was getting closer or farther away. The storm became a scientific curiosity, something to wonder about and to study, rather than something to be afraid of. To this day I count thunder (one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand. . . ) whenever a storm gets close.

Mother Theresa said...

Good for you! That's part of being a grownup, keeping the little ones calm.

R Montalban said...

Oh Leigh, you are a lovely mum, and I am sure you will succeed :-)

Sue said...

Good for you, Leigh! Such a good mom you are (a thoughtful, far-sighted, and loving one).


vanilla said...

Whether the fear is irrational or not, it is real, and conquering it is not easy. Best to you as you work to "stop the cycle."