Earlier today I was giving the car seat latch a piece of my mind; having a mini-meltdown because it would not install properly in the rental car. Thankfully I was alone out there. My feet were freezing as the snow had seeped through my boots and into my skin. No one saw me as I slammed the latch onto the hook again and again and again to no avail. The car seat install took about double the time it should have and of course I really appreciated that when I was standing out in the 26˚F air.
The car seat wasn’t the problem. It was merely the tipping point. This less-than-stellar moment was an accumulation of a number of events. Let’s take a look at how I got to the point of muttering angry words at a car seat. Saturday I was dealing on and off with a severe migraine. That afternoon I left my kids at a birthday party and headed out to help set up for a fundraiser. About a mile down the curved road, which had not been cleared, I hit a patch of ice. Despite the fact that I was driving only 25-30 mph and pumped the brakes, I ended up in the shallow ditch. I was uninjured and managed to drive out of the ditch and to a driveway. My tire was blown and the car had some obvious damage to the front passenger side. I called my mom. She and a family friend who was also at the party came to the rescue. He began changing my tires and let us take his vehicle to my fundraiser. Mom dropped me off. Then I compartmentalized so I could do my thing—help set up and then raise money.
The next day was Sunday. I’d suffered so badly with the migraine in the night I was awake from 2-5 am. The pain medicine finally helped my head some but had upset my stomach pretty badly. Mom took the girls to her church and I stayed home so I could attempt to sleep. Though I got in bed, my muscles ached and I was unable to sleep. Since resting proved fruitless I wished I’d gone to church instead but that’s the way it is with hindsight, right?
Then my three-year-old has had some cold symptoms for the last couple weeks but I don’t ever rush to the doctor for that. The last couple days she’d started exhibiting lack of appetite and grumpiness so I had begun suspecting possible ear infection. Last night before bed her cheeks were flushed and I checked her temp: 100˚F. Nothing too exciting, but confirmed my thoughts that I should take her in.
This morning we got up, got dressed, ate, and I scraped the car. We went to the chiropractor. We called the pediatrician and got an appointment. We went and when I gave the receptionist Aurora’s new insurance card for this year, it got declined. She called the company and they told her both my kids had been dropped as of December 31st. I was confused and stressed out—I had done all the things I was supposed to do and on time to re-enroll for coverage. These were new ID cards the company had sent me after I’d re-enrolled the kids, and to boot, they’d never sent me a termination letter. Hooray, one more thing to take care of later today—calling the insurance company… Thankfully our doctor’s office is wonderful so Aurora went ahead and saw the doctor. She was in rare form today and didn’t want to be touched or looked at. (Unsurprising for a sick three-year-old, but still, inconvenient).
We ran to the pharmacy for eardrops. Then we came home. The girls played in the snow, then we ate lunch. After that, Mom came over. I went outside to uninstall my car seats so I’d be able to put them in the rental car. Aurora’s came out like usual, no big deal. Abbi’s is forward facing now, though—just for the last month—and I could not get the back hook to release. Neither could Mom. We decided to leave it for the moment and ask the guy at the auto shop to give it a try. We dropped off my car and went to get the rental. Mom took the girls home. I went back to the auto shop to pick up the car seat. Sure enough with his upper body strength and his pocketknife, the man working there was able to get my car seat free for me.
So yeah, now I was finally back home and the dang car seats wouldn’t install. And in my mind in the list of “things that should be”, my husband should have been the one to change out my tires, and run me to the auto shop, and carry the 35 lb car seats, and do all the installing/uninstalling of them, and take the kids to church when I didn’t feel well, and so on and so forth. And my husband should be here to help me in general so that, in the moments when I’m not enough on my own and I can’t do it all because I’m just one person I wouldn’t feel any guilt needing him. There was no guilt asking Chris for help because that was part of commitment—part of the job description—part of the joy of it— part of what being a husband or wife is all about. Interdependence in marriage is a beautiful thing. We both had things to offer, ways that we could (and did) serve one another that made the other’s life easier.
It hurts me relying on others all the time. It hurts to feel like such a constant burden. But I remind myself I am just one person for crying out loud and I have many things that I just cannot do.
I feel like no one wants to hear about a widowed single mom who’s losing it over a car seat—they only want to see the widowed single mom in the moments when she’s the picture of grace. If I’m the young widow who is smiling, thin, great career, happy kids, then people can bear the thought of it, can’t they? “It’s not so bad, right? Look, she’s doing great!” Project to the world an image of Jackie Kennedy in a black Valentino suit—though as a human woman grieving her husband I imagine she had her ugly times. The reality is something no one wants to look at for too long. If we cannot tidy it up with a bow then it’s just too painful to face, isn’t it?
But many times, I’m not her. I’m not Jackie O in the slightest. Many times, I’m the woman who is losing it over one seemingly small thing because I’m trying to hold way too many things in the balance all the time. When you’re walking on a tight rope already and towing two preschoolers with you, it doesn’t take much to knock you over. Any bit of chaos can tip the scales from “making it work” to “oh my gosh—take deep breaths—don’t panic—how can this be figured out?”
I can look at this period in my life logically and say, “God can use this. God can use this to teach me, this can be for my benefit. I need to have some of this independence taken out of me; it is too much. I need to be humbled and I need to rely more on the Lord to meet my needs.” The truth of it remains that it is still a painful season to be in and I hate it. Yet I know God loves me passionately and I do believe with all my heart that He is good.
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6