Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I hope my children remember and learn from Hurricane Irene.

We are still in the throws of the after-effects of Hurricane Irene.  I am happy to say that my home had no serious damage to it and that my family is happy and healthy.  We are still without power, which is not ideal but we do have a generator running during the day to at least keep our fridge cold enough to keep our food from spoiling. We also can charge cell phones which allows us to stay in touch with the world.  All things that make this disruption not so terribly disruptive.
While walking around the neighborhood over the last few days with many of my neighbors (something we did a lot since we were all looking for something to do and others to talk to), I got to thinking about how this whole thing was actually a cool experience.  That it had brought us all together in a unique way.  I started to reflect on what I would want to take away from this experience that might make me a little bit of a better person.  Maybe it will help me be a little more patient, or a little more thoughtful, and maybe it might even make me a bit more organized, or a better "preparer".
Then, as I watched my kids walking, running and skipping ahead of me, I started to wonder what I thought they might learn from this experience.  I know what I wanted to try to take away from it but would my daughters benefit from it in some way too.
I decided to write my girls a letter.  I am hoping that by documenting some of what went on over the last few days, they might remember a little better some of the things that happened to us and some of the things that we did.  This way, I figured maybe they'd take away from this experience some of the values and ideas I hoped they would take away from it.

Here is that letter.  I have not read it to them yet, but I will and I hope they appreciate it's message and that it sort of reflects a little of who I am as their mom and what I believe to be important in this world.

Dear daughters -
What a crazy storm this has been.  You all have been so great about living without power and making this time the best you can make it with the circumstances we have been given.  I know it is no fun to take cold showers and I know it is frustrating to not have television, cable or computers but you all have rarely complained and have been "good sports" about the whole thing.  You have even referred to this whole experience as a "crazy camping trip at home".  You are great kids and dad and I are so appreciative of how resilient you have been.
And even with you being so fantastic for us, I have been thinking about some other things I am hoping you will take away from this whole experience.  Things that perhaps might make you what you and mom and dad see as a better person.

1.  I hope you remember from this storm how our neighborhood really turned into a supportive community.  How everyone who had anything to offer, did offer it and how neighbors made sure other neighbors where safe and that their physical as well as their emotional needs were being met.  I  hope you remember that when I walked over to our elderly neighbor's house to make sure she was okay and to offer the use of our freezer to her, that she was so thankful to know that we cared.  She was so happy to know that we wanted to be sure she was okay and that we were looking out for her and that her needs were being met.  That relief and appreciation that showed on her face is something I hope you always remember.

2.  I hope you remember how fun it can be to use flashlights to get around the house at night and how playing games and laughing with friends late into the evening can be just as fun or even more fun then turning on the television and watching a movie at the end of your day.

3.  I hope you remember that taking a stroll through the neighborhood can really connect you with those who share your world.  I wish you many sunny days and starry nights full of neighborhood strolls surrounded by good friends that live around you.

4.  I hope the books you have been enjoying reading instead of watching television or playing on the computer become more of your "go-to" for when you are bored and are looking for something to do.

5.  I home you remember how annoying it was at times to not have all our electricity.  That way, maybe in the future, when daddy and I say to you to remember to shut off the lights because we don't want to waste electricity that you go back, without a fight, and turn those lights off because you now appreciate that resource's worth.  Or better yet, maybe you will even remember to shut them off yourselves as you leave those rooms without even a reminder from us.

6.  I hope that you remember what it was like to not have the convenience of a warm shower any time you want or how frustrating it can be to not just be able to switch a light on in order to see what we need to see in the dark.  So many people in our world live without these resources every day.  They suffer from lack of energy, supplies, and daily conveniences that we usually have at our finger tips any time we want.  Electricity, clean and running water, and an abundance of food is not something a lot of people in this world have all the time...even in our own country.  When you see a homeless person, I hope you remember that he or she did not have a warm shower that morning, did not open up a fridge and simply take a meal out to eat and they did not just get to turn on the television when they wanted to catch a favorite show.  Remember this experience so that you can be thoughtful of others in the world who live inconveniently ALL the time.  Also, remember to not just think about them but to help them in some way, whether by giving them your time or help with money.  Think AND act.  Not everyone is as fortunate to live as well as our family usually does and having understanding as well as empathy for others is a great trait to have.

7.  I hope you remember that life circumstance can get a little tricky sometimes but that staying positive as much as possible through these situations makes the experience more bearable and even kind of fun.  But also make sure you take these situations seriously.  Plan well, and be prepared for tough situations so that you weather the storm safely.  Remember, people died in this storm so staying positive is important but being prepared and smart during these times is important too.

8. I hope you remember how our home became a welcoming place where all our neighbors knew they could come to charge their cell phones and laptops, or could come to cook a warm meal if they wanted to.  Plus they all knew they could store some of their freezer items so they did not loose all their food, and that they could just come to get out of the dark, enjoy a glass of wine and a nice conversation and simply not be alone.  Opening your home up is not always convenient and can be a messy, chaotic process at times but the satisfaction you'll feel knowing you helped others who needed you will out-way all the extra dishes that needed cleaning or the little extra messes that got left on the floors due to the extra "traffic".

9.  I hope you remember that the world does not stop spinning when things go "off kilter" a little bit and that when things get tough, they usually improve with time.  Hold on for the ride and enjoy it 'cause each tough time often evolves into a pretty cool life experience in the end.

10.  I hope you remember that your parents reached out to our next-door neighbor who had not always been so kind to us in the past.  We hope you see that this is what you do in serious situations.  The "olive branch" may or may not be accepted by those you reach out to after past conflict but you'll walk away knowing, either way, that you did what you felt was right and that you treated them as you would want to be treated.  That is a powerful experience to feel and makes you learn to swallow your pride and ego and be a better citizen and do the right thing.  You'll be better off for it.

I love you girls and I am so proud of how you all have stepped up and helped when you could to make this disruptive and kind of crazy post-hurricane experience less chaotic and actually a whole lot of fun.  You are going to go through many crazy, strange and uncontrollable times like this in your life and I hope you continue to carry yourselves through these times with a smile on your face, a helping hand reaching out to others.  Lastly, I hope you have strong memories of this time and that those memories remind you that if you made it through then, you can make it through in the future.

All my love to my girlie girls Always, Mommy


  1. What a sweet post, and what a wonderful gift for your daughters :)

    Dagmar ~ Dagmar's momsesne

  2. I can't believe #10. I raised you better than that.

  3. @meg and dagmar - THanks
    @Hay - It was just the right thing to do my love!

  4. Hello! I'm following you from the Follow Me Back Tuesday hop. Would love for you to stop by and follow back, whenever you get the chance! Hope you have a good rest of the week! (:

    Amber @ Beautifully BellaFaith

  5. this is fabulous.
    thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. This is beautiful thank you so much for including us in this lovely posy=t. I am a new follower from the hop. Hope youo can come by and so the same...Thanks

  7. We went through Katrina in Mississippi and noticed something that you brought up--disasters let us be the people who we're probably really supposed to be--kind, thoughtful, helpful, caring, etc. It is the magical part of an otherwise horrible thing.

  8. Nice job my dear! I didn't get a chance to read this until today since I hate reading on my Android. You're a good mom!

    The Husband

  9. You have a beautiful family and what wonderful advice given to your daughters. Thankful you are all doing ok after the storm. Thanks for stopping by simple-homemaking.