Reflections After The Storm

Charlotte McMullen Elementary School

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“Come outside and see it,” said my five-year-old, flinging open the front door. “It's wonderful, Mommy!”

Wonderful, according to my exuberant child, could mean a lot of things, including her latest fascination: creepy crawlers in the yard. But the expression on her face and excitement in her voice seemed to promise something sensational was beyond my walls. Or at least that’s what I hoped; I longed for a little joy.

I'm often teased about how much I baby her; something I won't deny because it's true.  But over thirteen years of parenting experience provides significant hindsight. I'm aware of how my previous dismissals like, “Not now. I’m busy,” have prevented me from creating memories with her older siblings.  Where once I wished time would miraculously speed up or for more silence in our home, now I realize life is a one-time opportunity.

Upon further reflection of life’s fleeting nature…

It was impossible to resist my daughter's invitation to see something wonderful outside. It’s as if every ounce of her was pulling me from my dimly lit hiding place into the daylight. My instincts said, “For the love of everything, please go and see what you’re missing!”

“Look!” she said pointing to the sky. “Two rainbows!”

Photo by Charlotte McMullen

The something wonderful was breathtaking. I retrieved my camera and as I snapped pictures, the rainbow’s vibrant colors began to fade. When only blue-grey sky remained, I turned, looked up, and halted. In the not so far off distance, loomed expansive, broodingly beautiful storm clouds.

Photo by Charlotte McMullen

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the two elements; the contrast of light and dark, so close in the same instance. The ominous clouds cast a foreboding shadow on the landscape; they were a frighteningly large reminder of Mother Nature’s power. And in the opposite side of the sky, the alluring aftermath of the passing turmoil signified a calmer time. Each side was magnificent in its own way.

Upon further reflection the sky I saw that day is a lot like my life.

I have a lot to be grateful for—a hard working spouse and beautiful, healthy children—so it seemed incomprehensible when I said: “I'm not happy.” But I felt like I was alone, like I was failing at the most basic tasks, and like the world would be better off if I was gone. The soft-spoken, repetitive lies of self-doubt and sadness are powerful in silent solitude. I sought outside help, and I’m doing better. If I was still completely stuck, I'd never be able to write this. It was difficult to do anything when I felt like I cared about nothing.

Please be kind to others and yourself, and do not be quick to judge. You may only see calm rainbows in someone’s life, but remember a strong storm may be looming nearby. Dark times are terrifying, but after you’ve weathered the storm, you’re able to appreciate subtler moments you might have otherwise overlooked. Grace this world with your presence and embrace your journey. All of life contributes to your beautiful spirit.

About the Author

Charlotte McMullen

Charlotte lives in Pennsylvania with her farmer husband and their five daughters. She writes about her salty sweet life at .

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