The morning kicked off as usual- me chasing two giggling girls around the house with a hairbrush, getting a few swipes of their bedhead in before Little Girl inevitably slams Baby Girl into a wall trying to knock a coveted toy loose from her grip, which spurs Baby Girl to retaliate by quietly approaching Little Girl from behind, grabbing her ponytail until Little Girl's nose hits the ceiling and she drops said toy, then Baby Girl sweeps in, snatches the toy and disappears. Livin' the dream.
|A stolen moment while the girls go in opposite directions. [Lumi Creative Studio]|
My dad turned 70 years old today and we're all still recovering from the birthday party my siblings, mom, husband, and I threw for him this past Sunday. 70. SEVENTY. Wow. What a milestone. It was pretty humbling trying to plan a 70th birthday party. Of course I wanted to use it as an excuse to delve even deeper into my Pinterest addiction and over-plan the food and decorations. But I knew that wouldn't make the party fun for him. And if there's ever a time to put my compulsions aside and really focus on the birthday recipient, this was it. Never has a man been more generous in all his years than my dad with his children (and even children not his own). Luckily, he was easily pleased with friends, family, some famous fried chicken and fireworks.
|One of three cakes!|
|One Bad Mother artillery shells. It was bad!|
Following a trip across town to buy some things off Craigslist (for the girls' birthday party that is definitely going to be doused in Pinterest), I headed back to my neck of the woods when I got a text from a worried friend. As is common in spring, severe thunderstorms had blown into the metroplex. Only this time, they brought baseball-sized hail and multiple tornadoes with them. I was still an hour from home but heard one of the tornadoes had touched down in the city where my husband is a fireman and was headed towards our home.
I was terrified of what could happen to my husband while he was working (as if a normal day isn't stressful enough) and frightened that I wouldn't make it to pick up my other daughter from school in time before they put it in lockdown. If you think I sound paranoid, consider my only recurring nightmares about tornadoes. I am haunted by numerous vivid nightmares of the freight-train sounds, the dirt piercing my eyes and coating my nose and mouth, the force weakening me to collapse, the feeling of complete debilitation and vulnerability when I know I won't make it thirty feet to my children before the tornado, and its strength pulling me into its funnel. For all you dream analyzers, sometimes I survive it or observe it from a distance, but the few times I was swept into it are hard to forget. Here is a little timeline of our afternoon:
12:01pm- Tornado on the ground in Arlington. View footage here.
1:40- I heard about the storms and called my parents to ask them to pick up Little Girl.
1:45- Husband gets moved to other district to cover for a fellow fireman whose home in Arlington was just hit by the tornado and had to leave work.
2:00- Tornado on the ground in my husband's now district two miles from the station, of course.
2:25- Baby Girl and I met Little Girl and my parents at their house, across town from our home. Whew. We waited with blankets in the bathtub for the Tornado Warning to expire while the sirens blared.
3:30- Tornado on the ground 10 miles SW from our neighborhood.
3:45- Rotation center is now 4 miles from our home. Luckily, it never got any closer.
It lifted off the ground right before our neighborhood and touched down again 6 miles northeast of our house. Eerie. Heart-breaking. Amazingly, no deaths have been reported despite as many as seventeen tornadoes in the area.
In the midst of all this, it was surprising how little I cared for all the pretty clothes, jewelry, TVs, decorations, furniture, etc. in the brand-new home we just spent a year of our lives perfecting. I was just so grateful my children were protected and I was hopeful my husband was safe too. Again, your relationships are your only true belongings.
During these few hours I received phone calls and texts from family and friends checking on us. At 3 o'clock I saw a call from a number I didn't recognize and answered it immediately thinking something had happened to my husband's phone and he was borrowing someone else's to check in with me. It wasn't my husband. It was my biological father. Biological father. Those two words are indicative of so much more, aren't they? Long, complicated story short, my mom and biological father divorced after 15+ years of marriage when I was a baby, then my mom and my biological father's brother fell in love and got married a few years later, and have been married 27+ years. So yes, my step-father is my uncle and his daughter, my cousin, is my half-sister, etc. But to me, he's my dad and she's my sister. (Are you keeping up? It's ok if you're not. Read it again.)
I've seen my biological father (my dad's brother) less times in my life than I have fingers. He has always used the excuse that it was too painful to be around my mom and dad when visiting me as a child. By the time I had the means to go visit him, I was too hurt, abandoned, bruised, and bitter to follow through. I've struggled with forgiving him for choosing to miss my entire life for as long as I can remember.
He never calls unless he has a bone to pick with my parents, wants to turn down the invitation to walk me down the aisle with his brother at my first wedding, wants to check on my brother who was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, wants to let his wife call me a "b" repeatedly on my answering machine, and now wants to check on our safety in the tornadoes. Phone calls with him are always awkward and stinging, but I try to remain hopeful and kind. Forgiving him is the hardest thing in the world for me. I'm still trying. After all, your relationships are your only true belongings.
Needless to say, we never made it to the library or the gym today. My nerves are shot and I poured a cocktail as soon as my daughters' heads hit the pillow. Between my dad turning 70, tornadoes threatening lives and homes, and a wound that will never heal, I had quite a day. Those three events gave me clarity and made me realize that the to-do list can wait. Trifecta. So tonight I ate cookies with my girls while we watched Turtle Tales and giggled some more. Trifecta. And my husband came home safe and sound, but exhausted, the following morning. I always forget that in addition to downed power lines and the usual car wrecks and fires, these kind of storms can trigger labor in pregnant women. He must have had an interesting day, to say the least.
Here are some pictures of the damage five miles from our home taken the morning after:
|Local businesses demolished.|
|I had to crop out deceased livestock mistakenly captured on camera.|
|Twisted ladder in a tree.|
|New utility poles already going up!|
|A bad picture of some tall grass flattened in a swirled pattern next to our house. Ominous.|
Here are some of WFAA's incredible photos from the storms:
Thank God we are all safe, our home was spared, and we're still able to enjoy things like our girls playing in the backseat and greeting my husband with the tightest of hugs when he comes home in the morning.