I’m Lucky That I Can Bitch About Being Stuck Inside With My Kids After Hurricane Sandy

hurricane sandy

I am lucky. I want to start off by saying that because it is pretty much what I’ve been trying to teach my kids over the last few days. That we are lucky. This is a lesson that I try to impart to them all the time anyway, but it is also a lesson that tends to fall by the wayside, as we””like most people””take our luck for granted unless it goes away.

Here are the things that I have felt lucky for since Hurricane Sandy struck the city we live in just a few days ago:

  • I am lucky for a roof over my head.
  • I am lucky for having easy access to hot, clean water.
  • I am lucky that my lights never even flickered.
  • I am lucky that my cable and Internet never went out so that I could stay up-to-date about what was happening.
  • I am lucky that no trees or branches fell on me when I walked my dog in the winds of the storm.
  • I am lucky that we have food to eat.
  • I am lucky that I can work from home so that I don’t have to worry about loss of income or the security of my job.

It is most definitely in times of disaster, when the dividing line between you and someone who loses everything can be as arbitrary as what side of the street you live on, that it is important to take account of all of the amazing things you have. And to feel obligated to help out those who are less fortunate. So, yes, I wanted to start off by saying that, because it is all true.

Also true, though? I have been going crazy working at home every day with both of my kids underfoot. NYC schools have been cancelled for the entire week and for at least two of the days it was too dangerous to go outside with them. So now, I’m going a little bit (totally) crazy. Which is ironic, because one of the things that I like most about my job is its flexibility and the fact that, while it is a good idea for me to go to the office, I always have the option of working from home when necessary. But I guess working from home takes on a whole new meaning when home is not empty. When, instead, home is two energetic boys who are going a little bit stir crazy themselves.

The other part of the equation is that, for me, working from home really entails working. I’m not just checking my email once every couple of hours while taking long baths or playing board games with my kids or baking bread or all of the things that I wish I were doing. No, I’m actually working. Sitting at my computer and staying in touch with all of my other coworkers who are holed up in their apartments because there’s no public transportation in New York. Our office is also in a neighborhood that had waist-high flood waters lapping at the building’s facade.

But my coworkers, at least the ones who didn’t lose power, don’t have kids. So, for them, working from home might induce a little stir-craziness, but it won’t cause them to yell for COMPLETE SILENCE while I take an important phone call, you guys! Unless they have two particularly noisy cats? I don’t know.

That’s what I feel reduced to, though, and I pretty much hate it. I hate that I miss my kids like crazy when I’m working long, deadline-filled hours, but that when I’m around them, I just need to tell them to leave me alone. After three full work days at home””and, no, it doesn’t even sound like that long of a time, but it has felt really long””I shut my computer at four o’clock instead of at seven o’clock and told them we’d go outside for awhile. They were ecstatic. It was, after all, Halloween.

Of course, this year, in New York City, Halloween felt different. Where we live, kids still roamed the streets dressed up as any number of scary and funny things, but just short distances away, there were kids who couldn’t go to their homes, because they’d lost power or even lost the homes themselves. So, we went along the streets with some friends and had a wonderful time, collecting candy and laughing.

I mostly felt lucky. Lucky that I was able to walk behind my kids as they raced down the streets, lucky that we had a home to go back to, lucky that my biggest complaint is that my kids have been annoying me as I work from home.

As I walked home with my kids this past Halloween night, feeling more mentally ready to spend the next two days with them running underfoot as I tried to get through mountains of work, I felt incredibly fortunate. The last few days in NYC have been filled with the sounds of wind, water, and sirens, and I don’t want to add to that melancholic cacophony with the sounds of me yelling at my kids to be quiet.

Annoyed as I may be, I really can’t forget for a moment how lucky I am.

(photo: Guido Amrein, Switzerland/ Shutterstock)

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