Thunderstorms, Pavlov’s Dogs, and One Sleepless Night

(A Tale of Motherhood)

Last night, there was a thunderstorm in Tiny Town. Actually there was this random long series of storms and not-storms, with lightning and thunder rumbles, then quiet, then more lightning and thunder rumbles, then quiet. Then a huge crash that sent me flying out of bed to check on my daughter. She was fine. My heart was pounding.

It’s been probably 12 years since my oldest started being afraid of storms, and since then I’ve always had a kid afraid of them– till this year. G doesn’t love them, exactly, but she also doesn’t cry and freak out anymore. It doesn’t matter. I have been trained, like Pavlov’s dogs, and now I am wide awake with the first rumble, every nerve tense, waiting to be hauled out of bed by a crying child.

I guess maybe this is a picture of motherhood in general, really. They need us for every little thing and then suddenly they don’t and they can’t understand why we are checking in on them when they’re taller than we are and it’s storming at night, or wanting to know why we insist on knowing where they’re going when they leave the house. They will never understand that it’s because just yesterday– I’m quite sure of it– they couldn’t even burp without our help.

This morning at 2:20 or so the storm started, and our bedroom window was open. The curtains were blowing all over the place, and the rain was pouring, and the thunder and lightning rumbled and flashed in an almost continual rhythm– not loud, but constant.

Suddenly– “MOM!” I rolled over just in time to see my daughter’s form silhouetted in our doorway, lit from behind by a particularly bright flash. Art and I both jumped and I may have yelped.


When next I saw my child, after I had recovered my composure and could breathe again, she was curled up in her bed, back to the door– to me– with her quilt over her head, ignoring my middle-of-the-night super patient mommy voice asking her what she needed. After a couple of attempts, I pulled the blanket back from her face and asked if she needed something. She opened one eye and squinted at me accusingly. “Why did you yell at me?” Her feelings were hurt.

I lovingly (of course– it was 2:30 in the morning after all!) explained that it’s not fair to be mad at people for their startled responses when you sneak up on them in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm and scare them half to death. I asked if she needed something and she said not really, she just was kind of scared of the storm and thought I should know.

Of course.

I had just dozed back off– about an hour later– when the aforementioned huge clap of thunder shot me out of bed like a clown out of a cannon.

Another hour– 4:24– and I had just entered a lovely dream sequence when I heard my angel’s voice again. “Mom!” I stumbled down the hallway.

“Yes, sweetie?”

“I can’t sleep.”

Me neither.

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