Blizzard 2010: Prepared to be a father

This week, after a history-making snow storm, I have a renewed perspective on being prepared as a dad.

But let’s backup a few years, to when my wife and I learned she was pregnant with our first son.

At the time, I had a much older friend and confidant, his kids had all grown, with whom I shared the news.

As we talked about it, I admitted that although I was nervous and the future was uncertain, I was ready.

“You’re never ready,” he said. “It’s really a question of whether or not you’re prepared.

He was making a comparison between comfort and survival and considering my marriage, career, and support network of friends and family, I indeed felt both ready and prepared to be a father.

But when it comes down to it, and many will argue about this, preparation is more a state of mind than anything else.

I’ve always considered myself an optimist, but only because in any situation, I immediately consider the absolute worse that can happen, and develop a plan for it.

It’s something I’ve done since I was a kid. I remember being six years old, laying in bed, and rehearsing my escape plan for if a meteor hit the house and destroyed it. In great detail, I’d build the scenario, play it out in my head, and go through each step until everyone in the house and I were outside and safe. Night after night.

As I got older, the scenarios evolved. “What if?” I’d wonder.

One day it would be a shady guy who pulls a gun in the store. The next day, a baby falling into the river. Each scenario more original and detailed than the last.

But the goal was always the same: Save the day.

This week, it was a record snow storm.

The blizzard came in two waves a few days apart. The first wave crippled the roadways, left tens of thousand of homes without power, forced countless stores to close. During a day-long lull after wave one, and in the calm before wave two, people went into a stock-up-on-everything frenzy.

We couldn’t even buy a gallon of milk.

Seriously. The shelves were picked clean. It was surreal.

I broke my snow shovel against the first wave, and nobody had any left. None. It was a last ditch effort to check Target, on the far side of town. They didn’t have any either.

But they had milk, when no one else did.

I bought two.

I spent the next morning with Google Maps showing every hardware store in a 25 mile radius, from the big box places to the locally owned.

Between sips of my morning coffee, like an eager telemarketer, I went down the list.

Many, if not most, were closed. And when I did get someone on the line, it went like this pretty much every time:

Me: “Mornin’ … prob’ly a shot in the dark, but do you folks still have any snow shovels?”

Them: “Nope, all sold out, might be getting more next week”

Me: “Well, by next week my car will be trapped inside an igloo – but thanks anyway.”

I found one finally at a local shop, but I had to wait in line  – twice – to get it. I waited in the line that had formed on the sidewalk outside of the hardware store, where they were unloading the shovels from a truck, and I waited again inside to pay.

I bought two.

It felt like a bank run, for shovels. I felt like I should get three. Everyone else was. But I restrained myself.

During the storm, we lost power.

Now, call me crazy but I love it when the power goes out. It throws the usual routine out of whack. In short, it’s a mini adventure with an element of unpredictability.

So what if I’m adrenaline challenged, I find it exciting. It helps me imagine, if only in a glimpse, what it must have like in days of old. When life was was hard and going to work meant going to work.

I imagine a time when being prepared was a built-in part of every day life, for everyone.

When people were communities, not segments.

A time before cars, before TV, radio and before the light bulb.

Before we became veal patties.

But there we were, last week, without power.

We had candles, we had flash lights and batteries, and we had blankets. We had a full fridge and cupboards.

Taken to the extremes, I knew I had a hatchet, I had plentiful woods nearby and I was prepared to melt snow and process it for drinking if I had to. I had even started to consider a few ways to prepare squirrel. (I could lure them so easily using nothing but their own greed!)

And most importantly, we had each other.

The heat was out – but the house stayed comfortable. We skipped the boys’ baths (which we never do) because there was no point risking them getting sick. They had toy flashlights that made fine nite-lite substitutes.

And once they were in bed, in their fleece jammies and double blankets, my wife and I snuggled up under candle light, with some red wine and string cheese, and loaded a Netflix movie into the laptop.

And then the power came back on.

The next day was like any other, only with a blanket of snow and coating of ice.

And in the light of the early hours, despite the available radio, TV or toys, my boys instead spent the morning enjoying nothing more than each other’s company, their collective imagination, and a single book.

Although it wasn’t a survival manual, it was a book about heros. And that’s a start.


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One Response to “Blizzard 2010: Prepared to be a father”

  1. Kelly K. Says:

    I would have let you borrow our shovel.

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