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Snowmageddon 2010 Part 1

"Snowmageddon 2010"

While we may not always get the record-breaking temperatures or significant snowfall like other states, winters in Baltimore can bring their own challenges. In the city there is the issue of public transportation delays, treacherous roadways and sidewalks, and limited on-street parking. Add on a weather report of impending snow and those challenges can create a pretty interesting chain of events.

February 2010 came with warnings of a series of potentially strong storm systems. That caused government offices, schools and airport closings. For most locals, that meant everyone needed to go to the grocery store and stock up on bread, milk and toilet paper. I did that. I even got movies for the girls. We love show, we were ready!

Snowmageddon came with 25" of snow, accompanied by Snowpocalypse and produced over 38" of snow during February 5-10, 2010. Top winds whipped up to 56 mph. Those intense winds caused blowing snow that formed the most picturesque vision and something we had never seen before: snow dunes. The blizzard-like conditions were impressive. Not to be outdone, was another new phenomenon, at least to us: Thundersnow. Our first experience with that was puzzling yet awesome.

Lonely water fountain covered by massive Snowmageddon 2010
Water fountain in Leakin Park, Baltimore, MD [Photo credit: Richard Harris @rix_view]

While power outages were widespread, our electricity stayed in tact. So we had our music, TV shows and most important, the Internet. Since schools were closed and no one could get to work, Robert and I had the perfect environment to talk on the phone and send pictures of the snow coverage.

Druid Lake park benches after Snowmageddon 2010
Druid Lake, Baltimore, MD [Photo credit: Richard Harris @rix_view]

It was one of the worst snowstorms on record for Baltimore, Maryland. News outlets reported round-the-clock. Every night we stayed up late, turned off the lights and stared outside watching the beautiful white puffy flakes. It's so quiet in the city when the snow falls. It was one of the most peaceful and beautiful events I can remember.

"Robert did the unexpected"

The girls and I woke up every morning to quickly gaze out of our bedroom widows to see how many more inches of snow fell. We would plan our breakfast and lazy-day activity. It was a choice between movies on the couch or in bed. Then I would call Robert and we would talk on the phone about the snow and how relaxing these days were. I didn't think it could get any better until Robert did the unexpected...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What's your snowstorm experience? Let us know in the comments.

The introduction

The day started with deep anticipation: would I see Robert today? Would he be equally anxious to see me? Or was this just a brief encounter at a gathering and nothing more?

After a typical Sunday of attending religious services, fixing lunch and running a few errands, it was finally time to get ready for the Skate Party. The girls were excited. It was always a fun time. Spending time with our friends and skating to good music was worth looking forward to.

My girls and I know that the fun time begins in the car en route to wherever we are going. That means one of them sits up front and is the D.D.J. (Designated Disk Jockey). We have a system: naturally I have first choice of the songs we listen to because I am the mom and the driver. Next in line of selection would the older child and third is the younger child. Inevitably, the younger finds a way to monopolize the songs we listen to. It's hilarious because she loves music like I do and when we hear our song, nothing else matters. Truthfully, this was a great distraction for me. All I had to do was drive and jam to my music.

"I was done"

A cool 25-minute-drive later we arrived at the Pasedena Roller Skating Center in Pasedena, MD. I paid the entrance fees and the girls took off to find their friends and enjoy a good time. I, however, proceeded a bit more cautiously ever aware of never wanting to appear desperate. And then it happened. Of all the people that were there, his was the first face I saw. I tried to play it cool but he smiled at me. I was done.

One of the first things Robert did was introduce me to his kids and I introduced him to mine. For him to do that right off the bat impressed me. Little did he know how important that one thing was. I wanted truth. Consistently Robert was truthful about his intentions and obligations. There was full reciprocation. His honesty allowed me to open up to him. While the kids were enjoying their Skate Party, Robert and I talked. When it was time to go home we both just lingered, savoring the moment until the final second when we had to leave.

Getting to know each other in a public setting

"would he want to stick around or run away"

As the days passed we talked on the phone. Robert was easy to listen to, easy to talk to. He made me feel comfortable. Soon we would need to have a very meaningful conversation. I needed him to know the things about me no one else knew, things that might affect or perhaps shatter his image of me. It was important for me to give him the choice to opt-out. I would want him to do the same. Those conversations were not brief. We needed to take our time with this. And that is what we did. It seemed like everyday when I came home from work after making sure the girls and parents were taken care of, I was back on the phone and we talked some more. I was enjoying getting to know Robert. But my fears consumed me at times. Would my mental illnesses and all of my responsibilities overshadow his feelings for me? I wondered would he want to stick around or run away...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What quality first impressed you about your mate? Let us know in the comments.

When we first met

When we first met it was at a gathering with mutual friends. Outside, it was a cold, snowy Friday night in January 2010. Inside, the music was right. It was clean fun and a good time hanging out with friends we love. With all that I was dealing with, I needed to let off some steam and dancing was the key. Song after song infused in me with more energy than I could imagine. It was therapeutic for me.

The Most Engaging Smile that make my heart melt
The Most Engaging Smile

"something special was happening"

Everyone was dancing, including Robert. What got me is that smile. Oh, he has the most engaging smile that makes my heart melt! There is a warmth behind his smile. I was intrigued by him. I admired his entire presence. He is dignified, the perfect gentleman. How is it possible that I felt safe just standing near him, someone I didn't know? We both felt it even though there were no words spoken. Something special was happening right before our eyes. That gathering was memorable. Then just as quickly as this mysterious meet occured, we parted and went separate ways.

"would he be able to deal with my health issues, my depression?" 

Passing the torch of responsibility to a loved one takes courage
Passing the torch

I wish I could explain how many thoughts and questions I had as I left that night: Who is he? Will we see each other again? Would he be able to deal with my health issues, my depression? Would I be able to pass the torch of responsibility to him? I'm clearly not being reasonable right now, that poor man, if he only knew what I was thinking he would run for the hills! I wish I could delete the what-ifs out of my mind. But I couldn't.

"would he be there?"

The kids had a Skate Party two days later. Robert has kids so would he be there?...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: Are there any what-if thoughts you struggle with? Let us know in the comments.

I was exhausted

I was dealing with a lot working full time as a single mom and a caretaker. My alarm clock seemed to ring earlier and earlier every morning. Sometimes the physical and mental fatigue was overwhelming. Moving my body took great effort only to feel like I was dragging heavy bricks with each step.

Every step takes great effort like bricks weighing you down
Dragging with each step

I kept thinking it would get easier. There were days when I was grasping for whatever motivation I could find. Having a mental or emotional illness greatly affected my natural ability to be productive and successful. Thankfully, there were rewards. After a grueling day I would come home around 5pm to be greeted with wonderful kisses and talks of the kid's day. My girls were so sweet and they took their academics seriously. But there was still homework that needed monitoring, chores that needed to be done, and errands to run. My life was busy.

"the stability they deserved"

I was a proactive mom, always on top of what my girls were doing. I wanted them to have the best foundation possible. Ours wasn't a life of luxury, but we were blessed with good morals and standards that we treasured. Spending quality time together was a pleasure regardless of how tired I was. Sometimes while the girls talked about their day we would all just laugh about whatever little incidents occurred in school or on my job. The three of us could be so silly together. I would joke with them that I was the best mother they ever had. Knowing I was there for them and that they were loved was the stability they deserved to have. No matter what mode of depression I was going through, those precious moments always made me feel better.

A single Mom surrounded by her two teenage daughters all happy and smiling
Tired Mom pushing through for her girls

After making sure the girls were fine, I'd proceed to check on the parents. Most of the time Dad was in full control taking care of Mom. Simply inquiring of their day and seeing if I needed to pick up prescriptions or make doctor's appointments was sufficient. I was on it. However, at some point in a parent-child relationship the roles shift a little. Responsibilities of taking care of them increase. That is a part of life. They're my parents and I love them. So I took a keen interest in making sure medications were being taken correctly, I asked pertinent questions at Doctor appointments, and I was always an advocate for their care. My goal was to make sure they felt respected and dignified. After all, I would want my girls to do the same for me.

My good friend once wrote an article asking, "What Kind of Person?". In it he says, "The big question was regarding people who go through life completely selfless, always at the ready to render support, understanding and loyalty while always taking the brunt and the blows during the lows and lofting and enjoying the highs. What kind of person does that? I only hope that when life turns full circle and I stand there having to peer into my deepest core, I will find at least a small piece of that person in me".

"things were about to change significantly"

Caretaking and parenting, while very fulfilling, was taking its toll. There wasn't a day that went by without my name or "Mommy" being called constantly. I struggled with depression that ranged from mild to severe. I truly felt that I could not keep doing this on my own. I really needed someone in my life who could jump in and help me maneuver through the difficult times. I had no idea that things were about to change significantly, for all of us...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: Are you an exhausted parent? What struggles do you have to deal with to keep going for your child(ren)? Let us know in the comments.

Single-parent life

"I am truly grateful"

It wasn't the way I expected my life to be. I was a 34-year-old single mom living with my parents and working full time. Dad, while silently dealing with his health and aging, was constantly taking care of Mom who more often than not was confined to her bed due to debilitating illnesses. I had two beautiful teenage girls. They were well-behaved, sweet girls. I love my babies, but some days it was difficult juggling responsibilities of being a single parent and adult daughter. Plus, I struggled with depression. While I like to think I was helping Dad and Mom, the truth is they were helping us. They provided guidance and balance. For that I am truly grateful.

Happy single mom with her two teenage daughters leaning on her as they smile for the camera
Me & the Girls
My parents instilled in me a love for creativity. As far as I can remember there was always some sort of project going on at home. Mom and Dad were sewing and consulting on best practice to complete each garment to perfection. Maybe Dad was in the basement woodworking, or even better, in the kitchen cooking a traditional Trinidadian meal. No one could bake bread like Dad. When they both got together to make Roti, curry chicken and potatoes, oh boy! Delicious every time. Sometimes Dad enjoyed tinkering with his computer or other electronic devices. So it was natural for me to be good at sewing, art, jewelry making, natural hairstyling, and cooking.

"I could not plan for what was ahead"

These things were not just enjoyable but also therapeutic for me. They helped me unwind physically and mentally especially on days when I was exhausted from work. I held a Class B CDL with P and S endorsements. I was not afraid to drive big vehicles. It was the waking up at 6 am that I dreaded. I bussed anywhere from 8 to 20 kids to and from school five days a week. Between my am and pm shifts I did have a break, which was great. That's when I would plan my next creative project. But some days I could not plan for what was ahead...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: Are you a single-parent? What is you support system like? Let us know in the comments.

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