I was following the tornado coverage already when the EF4 tornado that eventually tracked through Moore first spun up. I knew it was going to be bad when I heard it had grown to a mile wide, with a debris ball two miles wide. Then I heard it was tracking towards a high school and things got worse. Later, as I was getting ready to head home, the news broke that two elementary schools had taken a direct hit.
In that moment, I felt like I became every mom in the Moore community.
I knew that my kids were okay, I knew that we were nowhere near that weather system, but I was not okay. It felt like it could be my kids. We live in tornado alley: it could happen to my kids. It could be my kids who were bussed out and maybe trapped in traffic or pelted by debris. It could be my kids who were the third-graders trapped in the rubble. For me, being a mom has become universal; I feel like everyone’s kids are my kids. I cried when I heard about Newtown, I cried when I heard about the eight-year-old boy killed watching his dad run the Boston Marathon, and I broke down again last night when I heard as many as two dozen children might have died at school during the tornado. Can you imagine, as a parent, knowing the tornado hit your child’s school and not being able to get there? Or getting there and not being able to find your child? While hearing all of the speculation the media was broadcasting? The problem is that I can imagine it. Probably more than is healthy for me.
To make today even more challenging, today’s weather forecast for my area calls for severe storms this afternoon. They say the tornado threat is low (and, to be fair, yesterday’s tornado threat for the Oklahoma City area was very high), but I’m still practically jumping out of my skin. I asked the girls last night what they do if the tornado sirens go off. (The elementary school that was decimated yesterday had a basement, and still several students died. Our school does not have a basement.) Gracie’s class huddles in the computer room because their classroom has windows. Bee’s class moves from their portable into the hallway of the main building. I gave Bee a head’s up – Gracie’s teacher, a family friend, had promised me that she would fetch Bee and bring her to wherever Gracie was sheltering. If anything happens, I at least want my girls to be together. Not scared and alone. Although I didn’t mention that part to them – just that Ms. G. would make sure they were together. I don’t care if I’m being morbid or dramatic – I am giving myself permission to feel all my feelings today, so long as the kids have no idea.
So! To recap! Today is going to be difficult. Crazy difficult. Crazy with grief for the parents in Moore. And crazy-dramatic with what I’m sure are overreactions to everything going on down here in North Texas. But, hey, at least I still get to be Crazy, With Children. My kids might remember this week as The Week We Did Fun Stuff Every Night After School, but at least that’s a good kind of crazy, right?