Friday. It was a long week and it’s finally Friday! With my daughter back at school and the house to myself, I was set to do laundry, relax a little and enjoy the quiet time. Or so I thought. As is the case more often than not, my plans don’t end up going the way I’d like.
I was finishing loading pictures from my iPhone to my computer when I got a call. I didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail (because that’s a good way to utilize caller ID and make good use of my time!). I listened to the voicemail. It was a recording from the school district about a bomb threat at my daughter’s school. I listened again because I wasn’t sure I got the message right. I was correct though, and security was evacuating the school. In my mind, the police and school would discover it was a prank and school would be back in session. But, that was not to be the case immediately.
I must interject that my daughter is 17 and we haven’t been getting along well lately. Her trying to spread her wings. Me still trying to maintain some semblance of control by giving her rules and guidelines that she doesn’t like or abide by. Often she doesn’t respond to my text messages or answer the phone. Still, I took the chance and texted her to make sure she was ok, as she has troubles with anxiety. She texted me that she was ok. That the students were walking to the middle school a short distance away. Within seconds of her text I got another call from the same number as before, so I answered. The message stated that school was being dismissed for the day. We could pick our children up from the middle school. Their backpacks and belongings stayed behind at the high school for now.
Having just started to be productive, I was frustrated to have to leave the house. That feeling changed as I neared the school and saw the line of cars and parents. The police directing traffic. Fear took hold of me.
As I parked my car and started the long walk down to the school, I became very anxious and I wanted to cry. I was upset. I kept telling myself I was being silly. Everything was ok because my daughter and all the school was safe. But my mind decided it wasn’t ok. Adrenaline kicked in and as I approached the building, I felt as if it weren’t even real. I told myself again to stop with the drama and get a grip! Still, I wanted to see my daughter and hug her tight. And have a good cry.
The scene was calm but starting to get more frantic as parents arrived to get their kids, who were inside the middle school. The district security wasn’t sure how to handle the dismissal of students. At first the parents waited in a line behind the building. Then it was decided we should to go to the front of the school to stand as more of a crowd. Then it was back to the line as before!
As I walked back the back of the building to get in line again, I saw my daughter’s bright pink sweatshirt and her beautiful blond ponytail. She was walking beside her boyfriend. They didn’t see me, as they walked around the back of the school buses, and back down to the high school parking lot. I watched her with relief in my heart and a smile on my face.
She looked extra beautiful to me. Her hair seemed extra bright even in the cloudiness of the day, and her step seemed livelier than usual. Her smile was infectious, as I was close enough to see her facial expressions. I knew as her mom, it wasn’t “cool” to chase after her or bother her. I knew I should stay back, knowing that she was safe.
I wonder if she knows I watched her walk almost all the way down the hill because I could? I wonder if she knows that my heart melted all over again for her? That special mom-love that we have for our children took over. The relief I felt when she called and said that she was going to lunch with her boyfriend. I wonder if she knew I wanted to cry from the anxiety and the wonderful relief I felt when I saw her? If she knew that I wanted to tweet to the world that she was safe?
As I started back up to my car, (having taken a few photos because that’s the beauty of smartphones) I felt a rush of shame come over me. When I feel vulnerable, Satan tries to make me feel foolish about my emotions. I didn’t stop him as I felt like a fool for getting worried and upset. For being so dramatic! I’m not comfortable with these heavy feelings. That’s when I turn to humor and try to laugh instead of feel the weight of the sadness of the world’s troubles. I was alone among strangers, however, and I actually had nothing funny to say anyways (except for the irony of my daughter finally getting back to school only to be dismissed one hour later!).
I’m trying to be more kind to myself about my emotions. More understanding that sometimes life sucks ( I use that word because to me it fits). God gave us emotions and while they shouldn’t run our life, emotions are a big part of it. Especially if you’re super sensitive like me. Serious, deep emotions are scary and I don’t always want to be a part of them. But I’m here. I felt the emotions, and I accepted the feelings for several reasons.
1) At the time I was picking my daughter up, no one was yet aware if it was a legitimate threat or a prank. As I write this, it’s my assumption that it was a prank but I still don’t know as nothing has been reported for awhile. My mind didn’t know so my fear kicked in, followed by an adrenaline rush that made me want to cry.
3) It occurred to me that I’d seen similar situations unfold on TV. I live in the Denver area and remember Columbine and other school tragedies. My mind was remembering those scenes as I watched the students walk to the parking lot, and as I saw the crowd of parents. Past situations had told me that these were bad signs. So I reacted in such a way.
2) I have PTSD so I often operate with a certain level of anxiety already present.
4) I’m a mom! My girls are very much a part of me.
I’m home now with Owen the dog on my lap (remember I nicknamed him “Therapy” because he helps me feel better?!) and my daughter is in the room with us. The light drizzle that made it so cold earlier has now changed to snow. The laundry is going and I’ve settled down. Life is okay again. Rare are the bits of time in my life where, if even for only a few moments, life is almost perfect. That’s how I feel right now. Peaceful. Safe. Blessed