Nfld. & Labrador

Mother's Day for Fort Mac moms: Coping with disaster instead of celebrating

Mothers who would normally be treated to homemade cards and breakfast in bed in their Fort McMurray homes on Mother’s Day will be celebrating the holiday much differently this year.

Moms with connections to Newfoundland ‘hold kids that much more closer’ after fleeing disaster

Andrea Reardon, originally from St. John’s, with her three-year-old daughter Quinn. (A Thousand Words Photography.)

Mothers who would normally be treated to homemade cards and breakfast in bed in their Fort McMurray homes on Mother's Day will be celebrating the holiday much differently this year.

Evacuee mothers have a lot to worry about — their financial future and the possibility of not having a house or a job to go back to. But their number one priority, now more than ever, is to be a strong and supportive mom.

Maternal instinct

When Andrea Reardon, originally from St. John's, realized flames were close enough to force her flee, her maternal instinct kicked in.

"You just don't think about yourself or your own stuff, you think about them and you need to keep them safe," said Reardon.

"I was pretty much telling them, 'I need you to be calm for mom, I need you to listen… we're going to pack some things and we're going to go somewhere safe.'"

Andrea Reardon, originally from St. John’s, with her boyfriend Ben van Driesum and their children Aaron, 6, and Quinn 3. (A Thousand Words Photography.)

The panicked escape from a burning city has changed Andrea Reardon as a person and as a parent.

"You take your safety for granted a lot of times," said Reardon.

"I'm not going to turn into 'a bubble wrap mom' because I want my kids to be able to experience things but I'm definitely going to be a little more wary about things."

Reardon's main concern is the interruption to her children's routine and education, and hopes to bring a sense of normalcy back into their lives soon.

Andrea Reardon, originally from St. John’s, with her son Aaron. (A Thousand Words Photography.)

'Holding them that much closer'

Jennifer Morris, originally from Deer Lake, had to wait hours after the evacuation notice was ordered to leave town because she had trouble locating the school bus that her nine-year-old son Jesse Snook was on.

"It was really hard, but we're all together now and closer than ever," said Morris.

" [I'm] just holding them that much more closer. Watching their every move. Especially where I didn't know if I could have my hands on him before we left town."

Jennifer Morris, with her two children and her mother-in-law Florence Snook at Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton preparing to register with the Red Cross. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

Although she's still on duty as a mother in crisis, Morris is excited for Mother's Day because she'll be reunited with her own mother, who she hasn't seen since the evacuation.

'I really appreciate my mom and I love her a lot'

Nine-year-old Jesse Snook, Jennifer Morris' oldest son, credits his mom with keeping the family calm during the evacuation.

"I was a little stressed out and she told me not to worry and when we got to this place here, we were all calm," Snook said.

Jennifer Morris and her oldest son in Edmonton. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

"She took care of me and my little brother and my dad a lot. I really appreciate my mom and I love her a lot."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caroline Hillier is the producer of the St. John's Morning Show.

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