Last Friday my kids didn't have school, so we went to the IMAX theater at the Science Center and saw "To the Arctic", which is "the story of one mother polar bear’s determination to keep her cubs alive in the face of natural predators and a rapidly changing climate..." When the movie was over, I kept thinking about that mother polar bear, and the way that her entire existence was centered around keeping her cubs healthy and safe. This is the way of nature. As moms, this is how WE are wired.
Interestingly enough, the message that I received from "To the Arctic" was still bouncing around in my mind when I went for a much-needed long run on Saturday afternoon. A pretty severe storm had passed through a few hours earlier, but the sky was clear when I left. Gary was out of town, so I left the kids at home watching TV (which I sometimes do, because Gregory is a very responsible, almost-11-year-old). The sprinkly rain started about a mile into my run, but I wasn't worried about getting wet. It wasn't until I was 3 miles (the farthest point, of course) from home, that the thunder and lightening started. I was nervous, but there was really nothing I could do but keep running. Then, even though the music played loudly in my ears, I heard a siren. I wasn't absolutely sure, and I didn't really want to think about it (I still couldn't really do anything but run faster), but then Gregory called. Very calmly into the phone he said, "Mom, do you hear the siren?" I told him that I did, and that I was getting home as fast as I could. A few minutes later, Ruthie called. She also sounded surprisingly calm, and she asked if they should go to the basement.
We live on the second floor of a brick condo building, in a neighborhood lined with nearly identical brick condo buildings. I told Ruthie that I thought they were ok, but that if the sky turned black, or it seemed extremely windy, they should go to the basement and take the phone. About five minutes later, while I was still about 1 1/2 miles (and one HUGE hill -- southbound Skinker, for you Forest Park runners!!) away from home, the sky turned completely black and a second siren started. The volume of this siren, especially in comparison to the first one, led me to believe that if I turned right - away from home, rather than left - toward home, I would run directly into a tornado. I began panicking, not for myself, but for my kids. I called them immediately, and as nonchalantly as I could muster, told them to go to the basement and take the phone. When I hung up, my panic prompted me to start running as fast as I possibly could, straight up the hill! It wasn't long, though, before I had to walk. I really couldn't run that fast up the hill, and I found myself overwhelmingly anxious about my kids, and now completely out of breath!
Because I couldn't run, and the siren was still blaring, I stopped at a church. There were people in the basement, so I knocked on the door and someone let me in. I tried to call the kids and I couldn't reach them. I couldn't decide what to do. I briefly thought that if something happened to me, while I was running through a tornado to get home to them, they would be worse off than if we'd both just stayed safe in our respective basements. It was a fleeting thought, though, and a few minutes later, when the siren stopped, I left the basement, and started running again. I had to get home to my babies! Then Gregory called. (What a relief!). He thought I'd be home by then. Again, he seemed fairly calm, and again, I told him I was hurrying!
When the hail began, I was still about half a mile from home, and I actually laughed out loud. HAIL! Really? (For a minute, I thought maybe the rapture had come and I'd been left behind!) Thankfully, the hail was short-lived, and surprisingly not-too-painful, but in it's place, the sky dumped rain -- tons and tons of rain. And still I ran. I ran and ran, through thunder, lightening, tornado sirens, hail and torrential downpours. I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman, but all I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other and getting back to the kids. I'd ventured out too far from home, the climate was changing rapidly, and the cubs needed me!
When you're a mom, this is what you do. When you're a polar bear mom, you swim hundreds of miles to find food for your cubs, you herd your cubs away from danger, and roar at your predators! When you're a mom like me, you drive your kids to sports, make them nutritious meals, help them with homework, take parenting classes to learn how to talk to them better, and if you have to, you run! You run as hard and as fast and through whatever you need to, in order to get back to them -- to keep them healthy and safe!
This is What Moms Do!
**I ran though all that, and came home to find my kids making forts and eating snacks in the basement -- each wearing a brave face to keep the others calmer!
They were fine. My precious cubs.