The Washington Monument, Earthquakes, and Me!

After three years of being closed, the Washington Monument has finally reopened and tourist everywhere can cheer “Hooray!”  and “Let me take a selfie!”  The earthquake that hit the DC metro almost three years ago shook up the monument enough that renovations were needed to fix the cracks.  However, the timing of this reopening couldn’t be more perfect  since my reading in Listen to Your Mother was inspired by my poor parenting skills during that earthquake. Since the videos from Listen to Your Mother Washington DC won’t be available until July (big sad face), here is what I read during this amazing show where I was honored to be in the presence of some of the most fantastic women I have ever met! So until the videos are ready, enjoy my parenting fail as Emergency Mom



Emergency Mom

We’ve all seen the stories of mothers that react in times of peril and can perform super human feats when their children need them the most. Like the petite mother that morphs into the Incredible Hulk and lifts up her Honda Odyssey to free her toddler that is trapped underneath, or the woman who truly becomes faster than a speeding bullet and  can outrun a wild animal ready to pounce on her child. When I see stories like this I often think, “Man, I really hope a lion never chases one of my kids,” because the truth is, I suck in emergencies.

It’s good to know what your strengths are. Mine: Beverly Hills 90210 trivia, playing for hours at the playground with my kids, and drinking wine.

It’s also good to know what you suck at. For me: housekeeping, self-control around chocolate, and emergencies.

When you have two kids under two years old, you sort of go into survival mode, and one key factor of surviving is getting the kids to nap at the same time. At first I thought this was an urban legend maintained by exhausted mothers hoping for some rest of their own. Since sleep is essential for things like playing Candy Land 300 times a day and nursing your baby 300 times a day, I held out hope that I too would enjoy two children on the same nap schedule. After months of thwarted efforts by the tiny humans in my care, the napping Gods smiled down upon me and one day a beautiful thing happened, a miracle even: my infant and my toddler were sleeping soundly AT THE SAME TIME!


When I heard their soft snores and the sounds of their white noise machines playing in unison, I danced down the hall to my bedroom and performed what can only be described as a perfect swan dive into my bed. It was time for Mamma to nap!

LTYM collage

As soon as my weary head hit that pillow, I knew something wasn’t right. Is that ceiling fan swinging back and forth? Was I delusional from lack of sleep? Was this it? Had I really dropped my basket?

When a picture frame slid off the wall and crashed on the floor, I realized I wasn’t losing my mind. This was an EARTHQUAKE!

Are you kidding me? An earthquake? I’m originally from Pittsburgh; what the hell do I know about earthquakes? Snow that starts on Halloween and ends on Easter, yes. The world shaking around you, no.

Jumping out of bed, I scrambled to scoop both sleeping kids out of their beds, but I tripped and fell over my dog who was planning her own escape. Wait, aren’t dogs supposed to be man’s best friend and warn their masters of impending disasters? “Traitor,” I yelled as she fled to safer ground and left me in her dust.

Within seconds, I had rushed into two small bedrooms, one pink and one blue, and scooped up two sleeping, now awake and puzzled, children. While performing my best balancing act with one child on each hip, I started to pace the hall because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do next. What did we learn in elementary school during disaster drills? Is it earthquake stand in a doorway or is it earthquake head for the basement. Doorway, basement, doorway, basement?

Instead of deciding, I just ran in circles crying with both kids staring wide-eyed at their frazzled and sobbing mother.

And then as quickly as it had started, it was done. There was no need for the basement or the doorway, the earthquake was over,

With my babies still clutched to my sides, I dropped to the floor and all three of us wept and wept. I cried because I was terrified and shaken that I wasn’t able to jump into action when my kids needed to me to. I cried because I love my kids more than life itself and if one hair on their heads had been harmed because I couldn’t do my job as their mamma, I would die a thousand deaths. And I cried because I was so tired and a God dam earthquake hit the DC metro during naptime.

When we were all cried out, I carried my son and daughter downstairs. I plopped them in front of the TV. I stood in front of the pantry and ate half a jar of peanut butter right out of the container. I Goggled “what do you do in an earthquake” (the answer was doorway), and then I started to gain a little perspective. We all made it out of our first earthquake unscathed (except the beloved nap). And while my follow through could use a little work, my first instincts were right—to protect my kids.


So Mother Nature, give it your best shot and try it again.


But between mother to mother, can you not do it during naptime?



  1. says

    This Listen To Your Mother sounds like a nice event. I so understand where you come from about earthquakes. We have had several strong ones over the last few years.

  2. says

    So glad to hear you and your family were ok after the earthquake. We don’t get earthquakes here in Ohio so I wouldn’t know what to do either.

  3. says

    Hoping I never need to experience that, or tornadoes or floods! I was thinking doorway but then I thought about the logistics… I have three kids.. I would be holding three kids, trying to keep my balance in a tiny doorway… Oh Mother Nature.. ARGH.. Glad it was short lived btw…

  4. says

    Perfect timing indeed. We had a little wiggle of an earthquake here in February. My hubby said I had too much to drink because I felt the couch move. Nope, it was an earth quake. And, I didn’t even think to go get my kids. I thought I did well in emergencies. Crap!

  5. says

    I have never felt an earthquake in my life. I wouldn’t know the first thing to do. We are in NH and honestly that’s not normal for us to have those.

  6. says

    Oh goodness I can’t even imagine the fear. You did exactly what I would of done and had a tear fest after. Glad you know now.
    Listen to your mother sounds like a totally fun event. Kuddo’s to you for being so strong and sharing :)

  7. says

    Something instinctual kicks in times like that. Your natural inclination was to protect your kids and that’s what you did! I’ve never seen a LTYM, but I should check it out!

  8. says

    I suck in emergencies too. We had a tornado a few years ago and I got everyone into the interior pantry under the stairs, but couldn’t hold onto all of the kids at once. I have thought about that so many times after it was over and have changed the emergency plan a little, so I guess it was a good learning experience. I definitely didn’t keep my cool at the time, though, lol.

  9. says

    Your stress eating the peanut butter would go very well with my stressing eating M&M’s right now. I know what to do during a tornado as I from the midwest but would have had no idea what to do during an earthquake. But I should as a few have been close to us.

  10. Pam says

    We have only had one earthquake where we lived. My daughter and I woke up- my husband and son slept right through it. We had no clue what to do for it either!

  11. says

    Oh my gosh that is so scary! We’ve only had minor, nothing earthquakes here and it barely happens. I think I would totally freak out if we had a real big one!

  12. says

    I lived in WV when the earthquake that you are talking about happened. I was talking to my real estate agent and could feel the quake all the way to WV! Nap time always gets interrupted doesn’t it!

  13. says

    I can’t imagine how scary that would have been on my own let alone worrying about two of my kids! Not only that but waking up mid-nap to an earthquake and not knowing what’s going on…I think under the circumstances you did well. At least next time you’ll now what to do!

  14. says

    I once had a kids sleeping and we had an earthquake. I didn’t realize it was an earthquake until a few minutes after it ended. So I never woke her up. I do not like earthquakes – Im from Florida, we know how to deal with hurrucanes :)

  15. says

    Wow! I have never gone through an earthquake and have desire to. As for hurricanes, i am a pro at this point being from Jamaica and Florida. I am so glad you all are alright.

  16. Dina says

    Wow that’s scary. I deal wth tornadoes all the time earthquakes no. It’s all what you get used to I guess.

  17. says

    I’m glad you were all ok. We’ve had several earthquakes here in California and my husband, who had never felt one, really panicked. It’s a scary thing. Glad you were all ok though.

  18. says

    That sounds completely terrifying! Earthquakes and other natural disasters are not common where I live and I am so thankful for that.

  19. says

    I have never been in a earthquake before either. That must have been terrifying! I wonder if I would be able to remember what to do in an emergency situation like that. Glad you were all safe!

  20. says

    Here in LA, I’ve gotten used to earthquakes. :(

    A few of my other blogging buddies were a part of the Listen to your mother show. It sounds like it’s an amazing experience.

  21. says

    This looks like a great event. Earthquakes YIKES even the mere talk of them gets me uptight. I live where we can expect a big one at any moment. unlike other weather issues these are unpredictable.

  22. says

    I remember that day. We were on vacation playing at a sandy lake in Vermont and my son was four. My chair started shaking and my son looked up at me with a “what was that” look. Being way up north we felt the earthquake on a much smaller scale but I remember feeling so inadequate because I didn’t really react. I didn’t even realize it was an earthquake until the person next to me shouted “we just had an earthquake”. I was much more aware that entire day though, just in case another one happened. Love your story of how you handled that day, you reacted bravely as any loving mother would.

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