I’ve been a television reporter since 1989, about 26 ½ years. And I’ve been a mother for more than half of that time, 16 years.
So, when bad weather hits our area, I have always had to wear two hats - that of a reporter who usually covers the story, and that of a mother bear who has to make sure her cubs are in a safe place. The stress of both weighs equally on my shoulders.
When the kids were in daycare, I was lucky enough to know that the owner would do whatever she needed to do to keep the kids protected until a parent could get there. She would never close her doors until the last child was picked up. Once school started, we had to make immediate arrangements to pick them up in these situations. And while that always involved a stressful flurry of calls, for the most part, my husband was able to do this over the years.
But now, when bad weather is on the way, or God forbid, another type of crisis, my older daughter is behind the wheel of her car with her sister beside her. This was the situation we were faced with on Wednesday when violent storms rolled through our area.
School released early so, as a parent, I had to decide whether or not to let my kids drive home. After a series of texts that included from me: 1) tips in case you see a tornado while driving, 2) the latest tornado warnings in our area, 3) where to go in our house if a tornado is spotted in the area, I decided to let her drive.
She accused me of not trusting her judgment, and of “freaking her out,” even though she felt perfectly fine about the situation. I reassured her that I trusted her judgment and skills as a driver, but that I was a mom and it was perfectly normal for me to worry in this situation, especially since she was a new driver who had never driven in bad weather.
Everything turned out fine. They got home safely without incident.
When I returned from work that night, I was in our finished basement doing laundry when I noticed pillows, blankets and the power cord to a laptop in one of our interior rooms with no windows. I realized my younger daughter had created her own “tornado shelter” based on my earlier “tips.”
At least someone still listens to me …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here every Monday.