Today we left our babies...
Pause for dramatic effect.
No but in all seriousness, it has felt very dramatic for me. Earlier today my cousin and her lovely family came to a dock near us and picked up our 2 year old and our 3 month old to spend the weekend safely away from us, while Martin and I stay on the boat during hurricane force winds. We first saw this storm system brewing about a little over a week ago...
We were in Moorea, and life was good. Cooks Bay in Moorea is a beautiful anchorage, and we've met beautiful people there. But a couple weeks ago we noticed that there were storm cells forming that may become dangerous for our peaceful little corner.
We watched the first closely, it looked like it may not last very long and wouldn't become too strong - maybe 40 knots of wind max? With our new Rocna anchor deployed, we were confident that we could handle anchor watch with the babies on board.
It went fairly smooth, we were lucky that the storm actually mellowed out compared to what was initially forecasted. Unfortunately, the second system grew stronger to the point where we began to worry. Then four or so days ago we woke up to the forecast showing hurricane force winds coming straight down the bay at us from the North; 50-60 knots easy. I felt a little sick to my stomach, Martin too I imagine. We talked about it and realized that, what is already a scary forecast would be exponentially more stressful with the babies on board. I've never sat through a storm on anchor, and we've never sat through a storm in this boat on anchor yet. All our storm experiences have been out to sea or docked; both very different from each other and from what we were going to experience on anchor soon.
I couldn't really think straight for a little bit...my mind felt a bit overwhelmed so I checked out for probably a day. Note to self, don't check out mentally when dealing with time-sensitive situations.
Finally, 3 days ago I shot out the "will anyone help us" message to a few family members. Weather was coming, possibly really bad weather, and I would feel so much better dealing with keeping our home safe if I could know that our kids were safe on land.
I can hear what my mind expects some family here to say, "why don't you all just come stay at our house for the storm?" ...The boat is our home, and we love it. We can't abandon it to fend for itself during a storm, that would be incredibly irresponsible, and we'd worry about our home the whole time - everything we own, everything to our names.
So I thought if there were someone kind and gracious enough to agree to keep our boys for two to three days, this would be the best scenario.
God is good, and my cousin in Tahiti agreed to take them for the weekend. She's actually never met them, so she agreed to take on two babies she'd never met for several days, while also being pregnant and having a family of her own.
Grateful is an understatement, and honestly I felt ashamed and guilty to have even asked in the first place. But this isn't about me, this was for the wellbeing of our kids.
Fast forward to yesterday, the day before the storm was forecasted to hit, Martin and I hustled the boat back across the channel over to Phaeton Bay in Taravao, Tahiti - what will probably be the most protected anchorage in the line of fire.
This was actually our first sail with both boys, alone, just Martin and I. It actually went really well aside from some stressful moments at the get-go when JR couldn't figure out how to work his tablet. The boys actually spent the majority of the seven hour motorsail in their car seats. The storm wasn't here yet, but it's normal to have lots of smaller systems come through before the big one. So it was already gusty on the ocean and rainy, and Maritn and I were learning what our groove was sailing the boat just the two of us with the boys.
They did so amazingly well. It was almost comparable to a road trip. They were strapped into their car seats when we pulled anchor and left. Both were fed in their seats and JR had his shows to watch until he fell asleep, while KT fell asleep shortly after his bottle. Midway through the sail they woke up, and it was nice enough for me to let JR out of his seat to walk around, and I had time to hold KT and cuddle him. Then it got a little sporty again, so back in their seats they went, and they stayed there until about two hours out when we decided to drop sails and motor the rest of the way. With the autopilot on, I was able to focus on the boys. They could be out of the seats free to go about like normal...mostly relative to JR. It was actually a really cool feeling to be underway as just our family unit, and it made me really excited for the adventures to come.
We got here to our new anchorage in the early afternoon, among 4 other boats who arrived around the same time, and maybe 5 more boats after us as the afternoon progressed. This must be the anchorage of refuge. We anchored well, and enjoyed the evening together. The calm before the storm...
Expecting that we would start feeling the storm surges starting tonight, we contacted my cousin and she came by to get the boys this morning.
JR is such a good kid. He didn't seem very excited to go this time, bundled up in his rain jacket standing by the truck while we got KT's car seat settled in her truck. But he was a big 2 year old, and he understood that he was leaving. I felt so many mommy emotions; sadness, guilt, shame, worry...GAH, I'm tearing up just typing this out right now! But this was necessary.
I kissed my babies goodbye and let my cousin take them to a safe home while I stayed behind with our boat. Martin and I were staying back to take care of our floating home.
"Am I a bad mom?"
"Would this all be avoided if we lived a normal life in a house? Is that what I need to do for them?"
"Will they feel abandoned?"
Mom guilt is no freakin joke, and the anxiety from pending weather probably doesn't help. But I'm grateful to have this family to care for them when we can't, and grateful to have some friends and family that have been reassuring voices - trying to help me muffle the nagging thoughts that don't help anything.
We made the right call...
It will only be for three days...
Our babies will be safe...
Our home will be safe...
It's times like these when it can be quite difficult for me, for us. But whenever I place myself in a different life in my head, it doesn't bring me the same joy I get from our current life. There can be so much stress, but so much joy too.
And I'm sure most mamas will tell me that, no matter how you live or what you live in, you'll always worry about your kids.
So here we are. It is 2000 on Thursday, Jan 13, and gusts have already started on the northern side of the island, the exposed side. We wait in an eerie stillness, just an occasional gust to get our hearts pumping.
It'll be a long 48 hours, but we are ready, we are confident in each other, and our hearts are at peace knowing our little loves will be okay no matter what happens.