Trees in Valentine's Ice Storm 2021

Unexpected Valentines

Reflection by Amanda

I am done! So done! I thought to myself as I trudged through snow with bags in my arms trying to pack the last minute items in the car.

I had planned, prepped and pumped (bottles of milk) for weeks in order to get this one weekend: 24 hours ALONE -just me and L. First time since we have become a family of four. Our dates under Covid restrictions and with a baby had been lets just say minimalistic. Each one feeling less romantic or relaxing then the last.

More than even time with L, I was also soooo overdue for time to myself. L knew he would be sharing this 24 hour break with me, myself, and I needing some regrouping time of silence and rest.

It’s been a stressful post-holiday season. I have been learning to cram all my non-mom related work time into the 4-6 hours while Z was at preschool. All while still being on mom duty to G. Never getting a second completely to myself-even through the night! No matter how much I love my children, as an introvert who craves quiet, this is torture.

I was determined no snowstorm would hold me back from my long deserved R and R. Plus it said “wintery mix” at my in-laws house not a problem for us ex-upstate New Yorkers. L got off work early, I finished the packing–we were on the road before dark.

What normally takes us under two hours of easy freeway travel became three very long anxious hours navigating un-managed icy dark highway. L kept his focus on the road. I kept one eye on the other drivers around us and the other on the kids in the backseat. G wailed , uncomfortable with not seeing us or being held. Z tried to mask his brothers cries by blasting kids songs at the top of his lungs.

Finally, we made it to my in-laws. We had a late night pizza dinner, opened Valentines presents, got settled in for the night, and made plans for the next day. We all went to bed late.

The power went out at 11 pm. By 3 am I woke up suddenly listening: first there were groans and creaks, as the wind picked up in the trees, then rumbles and loud cracks followed by loud thuds. I tried to ignore it as branches and trees fell down outside, but the noises continued and got louder. Finally, I told L to move Z away from the windows. I got up with G and moved to the couches. The rest of the night was fit-ful at best, until the wind died down and the sun came up.

By morning, it was clear the damage of the storm: we had no cell service, no electricity, no phone lines, no internet: lights or running water. Fortunately my father in law went straight to work setting up his generator and camping stove, grabbing the large emergency water jug, and cranking up the stove heaters.

Without the internet or cell service, we could not reach the hotel we had planned to stay at. Phone lines were down. We discovered the route to the hotel was blocked anyway. We were stuck.

We entertained and played with the boys, as we considered our options. We waited things out: hoping and praying the power would return and we could still get time away. Plan A turned to B, C, D . . . . until we just gave up! In the end, we settled for a few hours to ourselves, in the in-laws basement– between rest time and dinner. No lights, no entertainment, (and did I mention no water? So no showers had happened either.)

At the end of our weekend away, as the ice thawed off the trees and dripped on the grass I heard a song. Z was listening to music on L’s phone. It was a kids’ version of a well known pop song. We all know the lines that came on: “you can’t always get what you want . . . ” I sighed- and thought you’ve got to be kidding me. “you can’t always get what you want . . . .” Yeah yea, I know! “you can’t always get what you want . . ” Then I nodded in acceptance of our reality and sang with Z “but if you try sometimes: you get what you need!

I wanted some “me time” and R and R. I deeply wanted to get time alone with my husband. But, you know what I needed? I needed to see something bigger was happening.

Over our unexpected Valentines weekend, admits very unforeseen circumstances, we didn’t just survive we got along–we got quality time together–we showed each other love. We played, we joked, we told stories, we sang songs, we read A LOT of kids books. Without showers or flushing toilets, we made our unplanned winter camping trip from home work! Without complaints, without whining (ok some from the kids), without arguments or negativity we all worked together–as a family–as a team– to make this weekend not only survival, but memorable.

So no I didn’t get anywhere close to what I wanted-but I got what I needed: perspective and understanding that my family’s love is stronger than I ever could have imagined.

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