what i learned from the floods

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

this is usually a little stream that runs through our town
Colorado is flooded.  And it's teaching me something about human nature.  

If you watch the news, you have seen the destruction.  Eight dead, hundreds missing.  In my community, the water system has been compromised, and as streets wash away I'm boiling water for drinking and cooking.  We did not have to evacuate, thankfully, but water drained into the basement, and fans and de-humidifiers have been running for days to try to save the carpet.

For eight days it rained - a steady, all-day downpour punctuated by occasional thunder and lightning.  The kind of rain that keeps you from leaving the house until you must, that traps

children indoors and makes parents crazy.  My neighbors tell me they've never seen anything like it.  The weather channel says this happens once in a thousand years.

But I'm from the Deep South, and a millennial flood here looks like an average September there.  For a few days, my husband and I kept asking one another, "What's the big deal?  Why is the rain causing so much destruction?"  It felt normal to us.  Twice a year, at least, we would have weeks on end of steady, unending rain in the South.  I couldn't comprehend how something so common in one area could take numerous lives in another.  How is that possible?

Colorado has a different terrain.

It is rockier, drier.  The ground is not accustomed to absorbing much water at once, so it floods easily.  The mountains do not absorb rain well either, and as the waters run down they pick up momentum, flooding streams and rivers.  Colorado's land has a different function and capacity than land in the Deep South.  It is meant to survive different things. 

People are the same way.

When I lived in the South, I would look around at friends and acquaintances who lived in the same culture as me, immersed in the same beliefs and expectations.  Yet they were wholly at ease, while I could barely get through the day.  "What's wrong with me?" I would think.  "Why can't I be happy here, like they are?"

There was nothing wrong with me.  We simply have different terrains.  

Since we've moved a few people have mentioned that as they watch our story unfold, they wonder why they can't just pick up and move the same way.  They want to be able to take a risk that big, but it's just not in them.

We have different capacities, and were made for different purposes.

I apply the same logic to working mothers.  I love staying at home, and have chosen this lifestyle intentionally.  However, one of the reasons I don't work is because I know I can't manage that many responsibilities at once.  I'm a terrible multi-tasker, and even part-time work can overwhelm me if I'm not careful.  While I genuinely love and believe in my choices, I've often wondered why I can't balance work and home life the same way other mothers can.

Because we're made of different soil.  We were built to withstand different things.

Colorado is decimated by the same rains that feed the Deep South.  But like the land, we're all built of different stuff.  One is not weaker than the other.  We're just made for different things.


  1. Wow, reading this is a bit of a 'lightbulb' moment for me :)
    So true, yet another reason why comparison is never helpful.
    Hope your carpet dries out v soon !

  2. I love this metaphor. I have wondered the same. I try to imagine my life without ever publishing or making it as a writer, and I ache. I wonder why I can't be happy as "just" a wife and mother, doing the little things with love. Other people could be brilliant in my life and I just feel like the odd girl out so often.

    I have a different terrain. Wow.

    Thanks, Steph.

  3. Beautiful.

    What I love so much about this chapter of your life is that your family chose YOUR FAMILY over everything else in life.
    How often does that happen anymore?
    You guys said (from what I understand...) "so many things aren't working for us right now...let's try something new, together"
    How many times are families struggling, but too committed to their careers or mortgages or relatives or schools or locations or friends that they end up divorced instead of that being the ONE thing that deserved the most loyalty?



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