It was a beautiful summer day. I packed a lunch and dressed our young children while my husband hooked the new boat up to our 4 wheel drive Bronco. We recently purchased a 14 foot outboard and I was worried that it was too small, but my husband assured me that we would be safe. The boat was seaworthy. We had brand new life jackets that the children would wear at all times, and he had gone over the rules with our 5 and 8 year olds. Life jackets stay on until you are on land again, never stand while the boat is moving, and always do what the captain tells you to do!
We live near one of the Great Lakes, but chose a nearby smaller one because the day was a bit windy and we wanted to get used to the boat before encountering any chance of rough water. The water sparkled as the sun bounced off its surface. We skimmed along the lake with the wind in our faces; our little ones squealing in delight.
Suddenly my husband slowed, and started turning the boat. “See those black clouds over there?” he pointed. “We need to get back to the dock; it looks like a thunderstorm is moving this way.”
The lake was long and narrow and the dock was at the other end. We headed back, the sky getting darker while the wind stirred the water into higher and higher waves. My husband made exactly the right moves, heading the boat into each wave, and we rode each one down and then straight up the next. The children became frightened, and so did I. They cried and I cried. Our captain continued driving the boat until we made it to the dock, then through clenched teeth ordered me to get the children into the truck. I did, and then waited for him to get in. He was by this time soaked from the rain and started the motor. I waited for him to say comforting things, but he drove home in silence that was deafening.
After the children were safely asleep in bed and the boat and truck were taken care of, I confronted my husband in tears. “Why are you angry with me?” I sobbed, “I was scared and you did not care!!!”
“Don’t you EVER do that again!” he stormed. “My job was to get us safely to shore, YOUR job was to keep the children calm.!”
My self pity went into high gear. I continued to cry and feel sorry for myself. Sometime later I understood. It did not matter how scared I was, my children needed me to be a calm face in the storm just like their Dad was. He knew that if I had not had a meltdown the children would have calmed down instead of becoming panicky.
I was a very young mother, and grew up after I got married and had children. This was a turning point in my life. I learned that my needs and feelings had to be private and not affect the face my children saw. When they got hurt, I swallowed my fear, kept them calm and took care of them. I realized that they were learning from me how to respond in situations, and my example was their teacher.