There was a storm coming. It could have been a tornado. We wouldn’t know until it came, so we had to be prepared. When you live in the Midwest you just know to take those warnings seriously and get to a safe place. I had the kids come to the basement with me, hoping this one would blow over soon.
For many years I would get the same gut wrenching fear when a tornado warning was announced. Didn’t matter if the sky was calm, if there were tornadoes around or the potential for one, I felt a deep, real fear. We never lost our home to the damaging winds, never were physically harmed during a storm. Yet I think collectively, in my community, there were memories of those very things, of loss of property and even lives.
So we took the warnings seriously.
That fearful little girl in me stayed around until later in my adult life, bringing some intense fear to the surface and throwing me into panic mode at times. When this storm was coming my son and daughter were old enough that they understood the dangers and reacted appropriately.
But I wanted to be protected myself. As I lashed out verbally to their dad about his own actions of trying to be ready to help others during this storm, I suddenly heard what I was saying, and heard my own fears.
Then I looked around me.
What was I teaching my kids? Who was going to be brave for them, as my parents had tried to be for me and my siblings? Who would keep a level head and know what to do if the storm actually hit our home?
This little moment in time became a turning point. I had to let that fear go. I had to release that childish need to be protected and comforted, and instead try to be that source of strength and courage for these two amazing young lives.
Letting go of that fear did not mean being lazy about storm warnings. It meant taking them seriously as before, giving a lot of respect to the natural forces around us, and remembering that I knew what to do. I was armed with the right tools to protect my children as much as was in my power.
And the courage to guide them through whatever lay ahead.