The kids have off from school this Thursday and Friday for the Jewish holidays. I have a long white paper due on Friday. My husband, wanting to help out, brought Little Girl with him to work. There’s an emergency childcare option right in his office. Big Girl went to hang out with Grandma. (Or as Little Girl likes to call her, “Your mommy, Mommy.”)
The day went fairly well, according to my husband, aside from the tiny hiccup of Little Girl freaking out after lunch. She liked leaving the childcare and hanging out in Daddy’s office, so she cried when he brought her back. She cried so hard, she vomited. Sigh. Still, they made it through the day.
Okay, so 5:30 I get a 911 email. “Call me right now.” Heart pounding, I called my husband, who informed me that he was standing in Penn Station, which had been shut down completely. There was no train service, the place was a zoo, and he didn’t know what to do. Seems lightning struck a switch, knocking out all service west of Jamaica Station. Crap.
I stay calm at first. He’s going to bring her to get a pretzel, he says. I’m at the gym. Big Girl had an activity at 5:15 until 6:15, so I was wasting time until I had to pick her up. I hit Twitter, getting updates and Twitpics telling and showing the craziness — too many people, too little air conditioning, absolutely no train service — going on in the city. Okay, pick up Big Girl at 6:15. Come outside to the car. Now it’s been almost an hour with no word from my husband. I tried to call, but he’s not picking up his phone, and there are no more emails or texts. I decide to go to Trader Joe’s. There’s no way I can do anything productive. The clock ticks to 7 p.m. By this time, I am going insane. Still no service out of Penn, and no communication from my husband. I’m thinking the worst. She’s run off. The heat has gotten to them. A riot has broken out. They tried to take the subway and got stuck on the train. A million what ifs are running through my brain. I vacillate between praying and cursing. My baby, my crazy, “it’s-fun-to-hide” baby is stuck in a too-full, cordoned-off Penn Station with my husband, who has a bad back and no stroller.
Finally, at 7:37 I get an email: “At Jamaica. Phone dying. We’ll get home safe.” ACK! Are you kidding me??? Another 20 minutes passes and I get this: “On train to Babylon. In a seat. I’m dead tired.” And finally, the terror starts to subside and I start to relax a little bit.
I shouldn’t have worried so much. When they actually got home at 9:05, the little one was no worse for wear aside from the fact that she was dressed like a boy. My husband didn’t have a change of clothing for her, so the people at the center dressed her in some random spare clothing. My husband, however, said he felt like he had spent six hours at the gym. He looks terrible, too. Shell-shocked. It was stressful, he says, trying to remain calm and happy on the outside when inside he was terrified for her safety. (And I was right to worry. He tells me that he had to fight with her to hold his hand. He finally gave up and carried her most of the time.)
After getting a quick bite to eat and something to drink, they were both asleep within 20 minutes. And me? I’m still feeling the effects of all that adrenaline. I have a headache. My jaw hurts from clenching it. My neck hurts. I’m exhausted. I wish I wasn’t wired to go from zero to 100 in a split second. I wish I could have assumed the best and known in my heart that they would arrive home soon with another Little One story to tell. (I mean, really, how often does lightning strike and take down an entire mass transit system??? Only when my kid is in the city.) I could blame it on a bad childhood or the fact that my father died in Penn Station. Or even that my brain synapses are wired for stress. I’m tired of making excuses, though. Being a worrier is really, really draining. Anyone have any ideas?