The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Don’t Tell Mom

on September 3, 2012

“Don’t tell Mom!” Have you ever stopped to wonder how many times your children have said that in their life time?  How many times you’ve said it in yours?  “Don’t tell mom!”  Usually because we don’t tell Mom because we don’t want to get in trouble. We don’t want Mom to get mad at us. Our kids were notorious at that.  They figured if they banded together they could outnumber and therefore outsmart us. Fortunately for us they weren’t very good at hiding things and we weren’t as dumb as they thought.  Sometimes we don’t tell Mom because we don’t want to let Mom down.   We don’t want her to be disappointed. We don’t want her to lecture us.  That usually happens as we get a little older.  Then comes the time in our lives when we don’t want to tell Mom because we don’t want her to be worried. We don’t want her to lose sleep over our situation. I’ve done that. Hundreds of times. What we don’t understand is that Mom knows a lot more than we give her credit for. She always has known more than we thought she did she just doesn’t tell us.  We had one of those times at our home this past week.

Last Wednesday I got a text from our oldest son asking for prayer.  There were fires burning around the area he lives. A lightning storm had passed through the panhandle of our state the night before producing little or no rain but lots of lightning.  Lightening that hit the badly drought infested ground and sparked the over dried grasses into fires.  He assured me they were miles away from the town in which he lives but asked that we would pray for the area and the people out fighting those fires.  He informed me that he was headed out that evening to help evacuate some animals from ranches that were in the path of the fire.  “Don’t worry Mom.  I’m not going close to the fire. This is just precautionary.” “Be careful!” I told him knowing that he was probably going closer to the fire than his mom would prefer.

Thursday morning we awoke to the news that the college he attends had cancelled classes until after the Labor Day break and were telling all the students who planned to leave for the weekend to go ahead and do so as soon as possible.  The fire was still several miles south of their town and campus but they were just being cautious.  Our son, who doesn’t live on campus, was scheduled to work through the weekend.  He hadn’t been planning to come home so he stayed.  When I talked to him that afternoon he told me that ash was falling thick enough in town that it looked like it was snowing.  Biting back my desire to tell him that breathing in that stuff is not good for you I asked him what he was doing with the extra time off from class.  He slipped and informed me that he’d spent a good portion of the previous night helping to dig fire trenches.  “You did what?” I asked. “Don’t you have to be trained to help do that?!”  He laughed, “How much training do you need to dig a hole where they tell you to dig?  Don’t worry Mom. I wasn’t close to the fire. We were digging where they thought it might come later.”   “Okay.” I said not sure I was buying all of that story, “Just stay safe.”   “I will Mom. Don’t worry.” Right. Don’t worry.

Friday while sitting at a football game I texted him to see how things were going.  We hadn’t heard much news about the fires at our end of the state.  “I’ll call you when I get off of work” the reply came.  Uh oh.  That didn’t sound good.  I texted my husband to see if he’d heard anything.  He had.  You see he’d been receiving the “Don’t tell Mom but….” texts.  Apparently our son had been doing a little more than just digging holes and evacuating animals miles away from the fire.  He’d been delivering tanks of water to the firefighters to use and bottles of water for them to drink.  He’d been pretty close to where they were burning.  Don’t tell Mom. That afternoon they had sent all volunteers away from the area who were not certified to fight fires because the fire was not acting the way they anticipated it should.  It was getting dangerous and unpredictable.  That scared him a little. Would have scared Mom too so that’s why we didn’t want to tell her. Dads understand that kind of stuff better.  Dads were once 21-year-olds with trucks and hormones who get a rush out of doing that sort of thing. Moms weren’t.  Dads are, however, smart enough to understand that Moms already know you aren’t telling them everything and it’s much better to just let them know what is going on rather than let them imagine what could be going on.  That’s what my husband did. He’s pretty good about letting Mom know what we aren’t telling her but what she already suspects. He brought me up to speed.  Apparently we also didn’t want Mom to know that it had also been reported that the fire had jumped the highway and was headed to town.  They were contemplating evacuations within the next 24 hours. Because I knew that his father was in contact with him I watched the rest of the game in relative peace and waited for his phone call.  When it finally came he reassured me that the fire had not jumped the highway and they were not evacuating town.  He had his stuff packed just in case and had a plan in place with his friend to leave if and when they did start calling for evacuations.  Until then he intended to keep working and wait it out. “Don’t worry Mom. I’m fine.”  Because he sounded fine and had a plan in place I slept in relative peace that night.

Saturday morning I checked in via text again.  He reported that they had begun to get some spotty rain showers and that they were gaining on containing the fire.  The threat of evacuations was now low.  They believed the worst had passed.  Good news! He was still fine and things were beginning to turn around. Of course I knew that he would still be looking for ways to help which could mean he was heading back down to the fire zone.  I just didn’t ask.  You see I know our son.  This is the kid who, as a senior in high school, hopped into his pick-up to help hall and bag sand when the river overflowed and threatened businesses in our town.    His truck squeaked for quite a while after that, messed up from the weight of the sand he hauled and then helped shovel into bags. He spent hours helping out using his pride and joy pick-up and his muscles to help out our community in a time of need.  There were no accolades, no recognition dinner for those who helped, no glory for him in helping out. Most people didn’t even know he was there.  There was only the satisfaction in his knowing that he was able to help others in a time of need.  That’s just the way he is. It’s the way God wired him. He just wants to help because he cares about people. He cares about the community in which he lives. Sure part of his motivation is the rush of being near the action (I guess that is a “guy” thing) but the thing that makes him stay and work hard and long is his heart.  He cares.  He wants to make a positive difference. He’s a servant and I’m so very proud of him.

Looking back over the events of the past few days I realize that I might as well get used to this sort of thing.  Our son is at that college studying to be a police officer. A first responder.  He intends to spend his life in service of others: going into situations where most people are fleeing.  Bringing safety and comfort to those in need. Doing the exact thing that he is wired to do.  I would have picked a much “safer” job for him.  One that pays better and involves less risk. I don’t get to pick for him though.  He gets to pick.  I wonder how many more times in his life he’s going to tell his father “Don’t tell Mom, but…..”  He doesn’t want me to worry. He wants to take care of  and protect me too. I love his heart. I love the fine young man he has become.  He is one of the greatest blessings of my life.    I would like to tell him, however, that he doesn’t need to be so careful around me.  I’m stronger than he thinks I am. I trust him and I trust the God whom he serves.  Besides….

Mom already knows.

Scenes from the recent fires in the Nebraska Panhandle:

Photo credit: The Chadron Record

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4 responses to “Don’t Tell Mom

  1. momshieb says:

    You must be so incredibly proud of him, when you aren’t worried to death about him! It sounds like you really understand his need to help, as well as his need to shelter you!
    I wish him all the best, and many thanks for what he is willing to do for others. For you, I wish peace, understanding a little bit of a blind eye!

    • wedelmom says:

      Thank you! We’ll take those sweet wishes. We are incredibly proud of him. He’s turned out to be a pretty good kid despite being the first “experimental” child with the less than perfect parents.
      We’ll get the balance of telling Mom enough that she doesn’t start imagining things and leaving out the gory details that will give her heart palpitations. 😉

  2. wow!! What a fine young man you have there!!! Great story!

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