Weathering the Storm—by Jamie Levine

This has been one stressful week. Last Monday, I was feeling sleep-deprived and overwhelmed by grad school and student teaching—but that was nothing compared to the stress I’ve been bearing since then. And keep in mind that my family and I are some of the more fortunate survivors of Hurricane Sandy: We are all safe and healthy, and my house is dry and undamaged. We simply had no power for six days, and tolerated a cold house, no hot water, no stove, no lights, and none of the amenities we usually take for granted. In addition (or as a result), I suffered from a four-day-long migraine that was the worst I’ve ever experienced. And through it all, I did my best to be super-mom and keep my daughter constantly happy and entertained.

Jayda had a pretty great week. Though she did miss being in school (my kid is pretty passionate about kindergarten and her teacher), she didn’t miss it like I did. It was tough caring for her 24 hours a day all week. While I was stressing about gas lines and impending sub-zero nights, and hearing stories of my less fortunate friends’ loss of homes and desperate plights, I determinedly hid my concerns from my daughter and tried to turn the week into an “adventure” for her. Thus, Jayda spent her days playing with friends (often in dark, cold houses), trick-or-treating at the mall (and having what Jayda exclaimed was the “best Halloween ever!”), taking hot showers at different houses every day, overloading on cookies and carbs when healthier fare was difficult to find, and playing board games by candlelight. Freezing nights felt warmer when I let Jayda sleep with me, so every night was a treat for my kid who is always begging me to let her sleep in my bed. Hearing Jayda’s laughter and seeing her smile got me through the horrors of the week—and made it impossible for me to break down because Jayda was always with me.

However, I did make sure the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy wasn’t all fun and games for Jayda. After she spent a morning whining in the car that she was “sooooo bored” and wanted to go home while I attempted to wait in a gas line, I lost my temper and explained to my kid that if we didn’t get gas, we’d be stuck in the house for a week and wouldn’t be able to see anyone or do anything. That scared her; the next day, Jayda offered to walk to a friend’s house because she didn’t want us to “run out of gas.” When I told Jayda that some of our friends didn’t even have houses anymore, she was shocked. Later, when Jayda won a bet we’d made about when our power would return, my mother asked her if she’d like to donate part of her winnings (about a dollar) to people worse off than we were, and my daughter immediately agreed. And when our power returned, she insisted I invite these friends over for “hot showers and some television” and even offered to share her toys (with the stipulation that “they can’t take any of them home! They can just play with them in my house.”).

I’m hoping my daughter has learned a little humility from this trying experience; I certainly have. While I couldn’t help feeling miserable and stressed out of my mind this past week, I did feel grateful, too. We didn’t come out of this hurricane unscathed—but we did come out alive and well—which is better than some. And I came out realizing what was important—and who was important—namely, my amazing friends who were always there to help us out with a hot shower, a hot meal, and a much-needed play date.