Calm Before the Storm, Hurricane on the Way

 Dear Son,*

While I trust you will be absolutely fine in your college dorm room these next few days with a hurricane heading toward shore, I cannot help but worry. You may be 22 years old but my instinct to protect you and your sister will remain undiminished throughout my life. Today it is the calm before the storm and we are prepared here at home. Unlike every other storm, this is the first time you have not been with us when the forecast has turned grim. A large swath of the eastern part of the country is in harm’s way and that includes you, dear.  So, just in case you have not already thought of these things, please humor me – you are good at it – and keep reading:10 ways college students can get prepared for a storm

Today, take care of whatever might be impossible tomorrow if you lose power.

Here are a few basics:

  1. Flashlight: see if you can find the one we sent you with freshman year (look in the bin under your bed) and get some fresh batteries.
  2. Fill up your car and try to park it away from trees.
  3. Cash – don’t run out.
  4. Charge your phone and computer and keep them charged.
  5. Water – pick up a case.
  6. Comfort food and protein bars that don’t require cooking.
  7. Change of clothing  – pack a small bag and have it ready with basics and any meds in case you need to leave quickly.
  8. Waterproof jacket – try to find it now.
  9. Emails and texts from school – pay close attention to the communication from your school and, if they say it is time to go to the gym or dining hall for safety, GO!
  10. Check on any friends whose housing situations might be more vulnerable than yours. It’s at times like this that we need to be there for each other.

I know you hate me hovering and find it insulting to your maturity/manhood for me to tell you what to do. (I get that and hated my parents fretting about me, too.)  Just in case you have the TV on ESPN rather than the Weather Channel, let me pass on something that I heard the radio weatherman announce this morning:  “In his 33 years on the job he had never seen anything like this storm.” Strong statement.  Seems all the sophisticated computer models can only do so much to predict how Mother Nature will really show herself this time.

In addition to your absence from our family’s safe nest, it is the uncertainty of this storm that has me on edge.  During all these years of being your mom I have, admittedly, worried too much about silly things, but this is not one of those.  Motherhood and worry walk hand in hand like twin sisters and that will never change. Sorry.

Look on the bright side: maybe the storm will be only bad enough for school to be cancelled and you can catch up on your sleep and school work.  Your sister would love a “snow day”  and as long as everyone’s safe, I would, too.

Take care (you know I mean it this time!)


*Note: This was the letter I wrote to my son on the eve of Hurricane Sandy, October, 2012. Check updates from the National Hurricane Center for Hurricane Joaquin. Now might be the very best time to help your college student takes steps to be prepared. 



  1. says

    I’m on the CT shoreline and am braced for the worst! Luckily I’m not direct waterfront, but none-the-less have trees very close to my house. I’m hoping your son is safe and in constant contact with you once this baby hits. John Travolta certainly isn’t singing Sandy in this household this weekend!

    • says

      Thanks – hope all is well with you and your house. We will fret about our trees, too, once the wind starts blowing. Thanks for all positive thoughts!

  2. Jennifer Comet Wagner says

    I know exactly how you feel. When I was in college in Buffalo there was a giant blizzard coming in. My friend and I left our dorm room to visit friends living off campus a few blocks away. By the time we left to return the blizzard was so bad we barely made it back. We were walking but we couldn’t see a thing. No sane person would have gone out that day.

    I’m so glad that for this storm I don’t have to worry about this because I know that my sons wouldn’t use any better judgement than I used.

    • says

      It is amazing that we all survived college thinking back to some of our own “naive” moves. A bit on pins and needles.

  3. says

    Sending thoughts of safeness and calm to your children — and everyone else’s who lie in Sandy’s path.

    I loved reading your loving letter :-)

  4. Susan says

    Loved this ! Just left our oldest after Parent’s Weekend to return home without him with a pit in my stomach. Despite a 6 hour difference we are both in the “cone”. I am forwarding this link to him so that he sees I’m not the only crazy mom out there!

    • says

      They should all know that we moms all worry about them and share similar advice. Good luck to you both!

  5. says

    I hope that you and your family are all safe !
    Take care.

    • says

      The good news is that our son’s college cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday and he walked in the door right about at dinner time. So happy to have him here!

    • says

      Thanks, Sharon. Classes for both kids were cancelled for tomorrow and our son was close enough to come home. Yea!

  6. says

    I think I worry about my boys more now that they are out of the house. At least they are far away from the storm while we are in hunker-down mode.
    Hoping they’ll send me chocolate and other necessities!

  7. says

    Boy I can really relate to this — my daughter’s college is right in the path of Sandy. I’m trying not to get too worried, too. I feel just this way, too: “During all these years of being your mom I have, admittedly, worried too much about silly things, but this is not one of those. Motherhood and worry walk hand in hand like twin sisters and that will never change. Sorry.”

    Hang in there; me too!

    • says

      Did your daughter’s college cancel classes? Our son’s did, fortunately, so he is safe and sound with us….for the time being. Hope all is well with your daughter.

      • says

        They canceled classes but it’s too far for her to get home — at least she’s safe and sound, hunkered down in a dorm!

  8. says

    Oh, my! I just sent almost the same text to my sons!! I wish they were here at home, with me and the big pot of soup…..! Good luck to all of you!

  9. LL says

    My kids, who are thankfully not in Sandy’s path, actually called home to check on us and make sure that we will have our phones charged in case they need to call us. They insisted that we check in with them to let them know we’re ok. I can’t imagine what worry warts they will be once they become mothers. I’ve either taught them well, or did them a terrible disservice!

    • says

      Ha – I vote taught them well. Good to know that our family members want to keep tabs on us and I’m glad your daughters are doing the same with you. School cancelled for both kids and our son showed up just in time for dinner. Yea!

      • Anonymous says

        Enjoy the time like you would an old fashioned snow day. Must be nice to all be snuggled up together under the same roof.

  10. says

    Yeah, I’ve got one too, he teaches back east and is stuck on the west coast til thurs, but he’s safe. hope yours is too.

  11. Marian says

    In college our younger son was on the west coast of Florida while we braced for a hurricaine. He called and asked if he could bring friends to the safety of our house which is inland and farther north in the state. How thrilled we were to have such a pro-active focus and concern for himself and others. While we waited and waited for their arrival the other parents called to confirm the air of safety that they had been sold.
    Rather than continue to our house, someone offered a beach house on the east coast as a safe harbor. Unfortunately that location was also in the path of the hurricaine. College kids. Go to a parents’ place or to a beach house? Fortunately they bonded in their ‘experience’ of survival that we would have deprived them. Endurance is a good thing for parents to pray for. Once past some escapades, their own life experience are ones we would have just as soon prevented. But they are on their own. Our son is now a first-responder to disaster as a fireman-paramedic. Could we have given him courage? I think not.
    It had to be forged.
    Bless you all and your families as the force of nature will impact you.

    • says

      Marian, you make a great point that life experiences (that we might not have totally agreed with at the time) can sometimes be among the most formative. Thanks for all good wishes!

  12. Kristin Wheeler (Mama Luvs Books) says

    What a sweet post/letter to your son! I’m sure you worry about your kids at any age!!! Thoughts out to your family that everyone is okay! We are in RI and I am just waiting for the power to go out any second!

    • says

      Couldn’t agree more with you – we worry about our kids at every age….my 85 year old mom in Texas is worrying about us up here in NY as we speak. Hope you ride it in in RI without much trouble.

  13. says

    Oh, I hope everyone is safe! I don’t even want to think about when my kids are not with me during a storm. I remember the first time I was not with my parents. Honestly, we threw a hurricane party and had a ball because we were young and stupid! I’m sure that your son will be smart and stay safe! I hope you do as well!

    • says

      Young and stupid – those were the days!!! Our son decided to come home and arrived last night after his school cancelled classes today and tomorrow. Thank goodness!

  14. says

    We have Sandy headed this way too. What a lovely letter, thanks for sharing.. I can only imagine what that would be like for the first time. We have our son here and we plan on hanging out in the basement until it passes. Hope all will be safe!

  15. angela says

    Oh gosh! I would be an absolute wreck if my child were in the path of that storm. I pray everyone stays safe and sound.

    • says

      Thanks – he came home yesterday afternoon after his school cancelled classes so we are hunkered down together….as a family.

  16. says

    You and your kids (and all others out east) have been on my mind all day. Wishing the best for you all, and that all the stories to share afterward are good ones about having successfully braved the storm.

  17. says

    It’s my daughter’s sophomore year at school and we have talked more in the past 3 days than in those 2 years! Seems she was just as worried about us as we were about her….