I underestimated myself (and my boys)

I am not alone in the nightmare. All one had to do was look out his/her car window to see others experiencing the same misery. We were all stuck.

Due to a snow and ice storm and a mass exodus to reach home before the roads turned treacherous, the roads were filled and full fast: highways, interstates, side streets, back roads, etc.

My story is not the worst; but, it is my story, and I want to share it with you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Tuesday January 28th, the school notified all parents that the school was closing early due to the weather. My husband, working from home, got in his car and started the 15-mile journey to pick up the boys (ages 9 and 7).

Within 10 minutes of leaving the house, he called me and he suggested I go ahead and leave work, because the roads were quite icy. Less than 5 minutes later, he called me again to say he was stuck in traffic. He clarified by saying traffic was literally not moving, and I needed to get the boys.*

I left work, and I made it to the school very easily. The roads were slick, but the cars were moving and the number of cars was not excessive.

The boys got into my car at 1:45 PM, and we headed for home.

Less than 2 miles from the school, it was clear we would not be getting home in the typical 30-minute time-frame, as it was already 2:30. The boys were wondering when we were going to get home, and one asked, “We’ll be home by 4pm, right?”

We weren’t.

The next 2 miles took 3hrs to travel. The snow and sleet continued, as the roads became more treacherous and the traffic volume increased.

At one point, I decided to get in the left lane and turn – just because the lane was open, and I needed to move. I wasn’t sure how I would get home by turning left, but I wanted to move. After 4hrs of not moving, I HAD to move.

Initially, turning left seemed the right choice. I was able to drive an entire mile within minutes. Then we were stopped again. And, we remained stopped or merely crawling for several more hours.

Long story short… We left the school at 1:45 PM, and we pulled into our driveway at 11:01 PM.

To know me – the real me – is to know my ugly side: my freak-out moments where the anger is intense and composure does not exist. Being stuck in a car for hours on end, with my boys, in a snow/ice storm is a recipe to awaken my ugly side.

Well, you know what? I underestimated myself. I underestimated my boys. We made it through this recipe of destruction without a scratch – both literally and metaphorically.

I could not be more proud of my boys. These two kids were beyond resilient. They don’t have iPhones, iPads, or tablets of any type to keep them occupied in the car. All we have in our car is a radio and – at least on that day – school bags.

During the 9hr ordeal, we had our moments of frustration. I did lose it once or twice, and the boys lost it once or twice. Thankfully, the two not in the midst of a meltdown helped to bring the other one out of it. And surprisingly, we laughed many times. More surprisingly, the boys and I have reflected back on getting stuck, and we’ve chuckled about the good times.

Good times in a nightmare? Yeah. Actually, we had some good times – okay, good moments may be a better choice of words.

Every time I stop and think about the ordeal, I end up shaking my head and tearing-up a bit. I cannot believe the boys were so good. But mostly, I cannot believe I managed my ugly side. Truly.

What kept us together? What kept us sane? How on earth did I – Lenore – get through this without breaking something, slamming something, or yelling to the point of glass shattering? My friends – no doubt – wondered the same thing.

At the risk of causing atheists and agnostics to roll their eyes and yawn,… I give full credit to my faith and God.

We spent most of the drive listening to one certain radio station – a Christian pop-station that plays the top 20 Christian pop songs over and over again, without breaks. Though I would have preferred to stick with talk-radio during this “event”, it was nice to hear good music and feel encouragement through the airwaves.

The first time we heard “Overcomer” while stuck in the car, I laughed. I told the boys this was the perfect song for our – um – adventure. I told the boys that no matter how miserable we were feeling, we would overcome this situation.

Song after song left us feeling hopeful, as our day turned into night. And when we finally made it home, rather than heading for bed, the boys ran outside to play in the snow with Dad.

We all finally crashed warm in our beds a little after midnight. It was a very long day and trying day. But mostly, it was a day we overcame with flying colors.

* Rob did not get home until close to 8pm, after leaving the house at 1:10pm to pick up the boys. Remember, he didn’t even make it to the school. He got stuck having traveled only 5 miles from the house.

The song that motivated us throughout our journey: “Overcomer” by Mandisa.

17 thoughts on “I underestimated myself (and my boys)

  1. YOU BEAT ME! You bested my time in my little snow/ice/drive home adventure 3 years ago! I am utterly amazed!

    I left work at 3:30, couldn’t get on the interstate, made the wrong choice of roads to take me home, ended up sitting at a stop light for 2 hours straight – I swear, nothing moved in either direction for 2 hours), turned left when I shouldn’t have and ended up on the more-treacherous back streets (all in an attempt to get into the P.F. Chang’s parking lot and sit sipping Chinese tea until traffic cleared – obviously not meant to be), finally made it 20 minutes from my house when nature couldn’t be forestalled any longer, found out that there was an impasse on the road ahead, turned around and made it to the interstate where semis were at a 40-mph crawl, and FINALLY made it home at 8:30 p.m. What was usually a 45 minute drive turned into a 5-hour one!

    This experience so completely freaked me out that if I even hear the word “snowflake” I head home immediately. I do not pass go, I do not collect my $200. I’m so glad you and your boys had each other and made it home safely. I spent my 5 hours on the phone with all of my wonderful and patient long-distance friends, who thankfully put up with my cursing, griping, and complaining all the way home. 🙂

    1. Funny. In a P.F. Chang’s parking lot, I made the decision to just drive – regardless of how long it took, however many turns/trackbacks it required, I was just going to drive. This came to me as I was watching the same line of traffic remain still – literally – for over 20 minutes. I went the other way – again ran into a wall of traffic, but it was creeping, at least.

      1. You even made it into the parking lot??! Now I hate you. (just kidding 🙂 ) What I wouldn’t have given to have a warm place to spend the traffic jam – OUTside of my car! Ah, well. We both made it home and that’s what counts.

        Thanks for your kind words on my post re. my sister. Lately I’ve been looking at lots of pictures of her laughing. She LOVED to laugh (almost as much as I do – only she didn’t have the cynical, sarcastic bent so prominent in me). I miss her laugh.

  2. I can’t even imagine being stuck that long! Good job keeping your cool throughout the ordeal. Did you have any food? So glad you were all safe.

    I find that saying a silent prayer and relying on God is the only thing left to do in these situations, the older I get the more I try to release my fears and have faith things will work out eventually.

    1. The boys had just eaten lunch prior to me picking them up from school, and they have large lunches. I had water in the car, but honestly – the food and water was not our main concern.
      The songs really helped us stay calm and keep things in perspective. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the inner-strength the three of us had was due to faith.

  3. Good post. To me, the event is still unbelievable. You are a survivor, Lenore, and are teaching your boys to be the same. Thankfully, Rob is a survivor, too (I refer to a very dark period of time for you). You four make a totally awesome team. But I digress – good post!

    1. Thanks, Carol. Funny you mentioned Survivor. Sam was anxious when she was stuck, and Leslie said it was good practice for the game Survivor. Leslie was talking Sam through the anxiety by describing the sleeping arrangements on Survivor, eating worms, having bugs everywhere, etc. We certain made it home safe and sound – but if I had to eat a worm to make it happen… I’m not sure I would. (smile)

  4. What a harrowing time you all had!! I can’t imagine how my son would have done in the same situation. Kudos to you and to your boys! Those icy roads are no joke.

    I remember once driving in the Green Mountains in Vermont, when the rainy roads I was driving on, suddenly became sheet ice. I discovered this because out of nowhere there were cars off both sides of the road, in the snow banks. And it was about 7 miles to the next exit. I can’t tell you how many accidents and wrecks I passed, and police cars and ambulances passed me, but I drove about 2 mph all the way to the exit- where they had salted the heck out of the roads, and they were very passable.

    So glad you all made it home safe and sound.

  5. That is a great song. The power of music soothes the savage beast–or so I’ve heard. 😉 Did the guys have plans for 4:00?

  6. Omg Lenore, no words for such a horrendous ordeal. Thank God that you and the boys and your hubby are together again … safe and sound.

    Don’t know how we got disconnected, just glad to see your post back in my e-mail box.
    blessings ~ maxi

  7. I bet you slept well that night under a comfy blanket after such a trying day and still getting in some good ole snow time. Thank goodness for Dads who don’t mind the important stuff like snow duty. You mentioned your radio that kept you company, but I don’t see any mention of a cell phone. I bet Rob was worried about you and you were worried about him. Goodness gracious what happened in Atlanta? Rick followed an ole GTE buddy from Houston now at VZ Atlanta who spent the night on a highway!
    I remember the mass exodus out of Houston with Ike coming. We spent hours in the car just wanting to get to the farm. Finally, miles out of Houston we took a right on Kickapoo Rd. that got us to other back roads that got us to the farm. I still smile at Kickapoo Rd. every time we pass it.

  8. Wow — what a story. I think I would have lost it too sitting unmoving for that long. How good to find the resilience that you weren’t sure that you had! I feel uplifted. 🙂

  9. Wow. I’m glad this had a happy ending. You know, as I read it, I was thinking of all the things our ancestors had to put up with before we had things like electric stoves, fridges, microwaves, cars, radios…You know, back in the early part of last century when they had to deal with blizzards and ice storms from the back of a horse or in a wagon? I think what you three did was just what they did. You pulled together to survive. You each understood that the only thing you had control over was how you dealt with the lousy hand you were holding.Fighting that would have been wasted energy and in an emergency, energy can mean life or death. Well done all of you, including Rob! (And think of how many times the story will be told in the years to come!)

That was my thought on the matter. Your comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s