The beginning of this post was drafted in a Culver’s dining room, which is where we sat for about 1 1/2 hours on Wednesday afternoon. It certainly wasn’t because their service took that long or that I couldn’t stop gorging myself on their butter burgers. It wasn’t because we didn’t have anything better to do on a Wednesday afternoon, when in fact, as of late my to-do list is just never ending. It’s definitely not one of my more frequented spots in town, we rarely even eat fast food and I can’t remember the last time I ordered a burger. No, the reason lies in the fact that I seem to be in a bit of a downward rut, stuck in a sticky place in Mom life and having a streak of really bad, rotten and lousy, seemingly good for nothing days.
Life is difficult. I’m going to start there because I feel like very few people will argue with that statement. It’s not that anything truly awful has happened to us in recent history. We’re healthy, financially secure and business is good. Hubs is settling into his new job, Gretta is doing well in school and winter is almost over. But I still feel at a loss some days, between toddler tantrums, misbehaving dogs, the stepping on toys, finding your favorite vintage dresses covered in kitty stickers, the “accidents” on the rug, the crying and whining and the constant chorus of “no’s”, the battles to get out the door in the morning and into bed at night – it all wears on a person after a while. Making me, myself guilty of being the biggest whiner in the entire scenario.
Tuesday was an especially trying day in Momland. It’s naturally an extra busy day of the week and the trials really added up. By midafternoon the struggle was winning, I went to bed early and was determined to make Wednesday a better day. Life had another idea though.
It all started when I dropped my Aldi quarter. Anyone who frequents Aldi will understand the importance of the quarter and how it is almost impossible to complete your grocery trip without one, especially with a toddler and preschooler in tow. I probably should have given up and gone home when it slipped into the abyss between my Jeep seats, never to be seen again. But I pressed onward, determined to grab the essentials. Because it’s only almost impossible. Gretta carried the bananas and bread, I juggled keeping track of Willa June while balancing the chicken, eggs, milk, Goldfish crackers and a few other items on a box top. It was tricky but we survived. Onward to our next stop.
I visit our local Lowes store almost as much as the grocery store. I knew exactly where I was headed and needed just one thing. It was meant to be a very quick stop. But after I found my needed hardware, I decided to go look at some antique brass baskets and since I was in that aisle anyway, I thought I might as well pick up the totes that I need for my studio storage, I’ll save myself a trip at a later date. To the checkout. I quickly paid, and gather my things. But before I walked out the door, I wanted to dig out my keys. My keys. Where are my keys? I emptied my purse. I emptied my pockets. I retraced my steps. I searched the parking lot. I looked in the girls coats and hoods. I looked shelves and on the floor. I re-emptied my purse. All to no avail. Eventually there were 3 other gracious Lowe’s employees assisting my with my scavenger hunt. Despite the extra sets of eyes, my keys were just gone. And the extra set were a 15 minute DRIVE away and my husband was working over an hour away. Things were not looking good.
This brings us to Culver’s, the nearest restaurant as it was already past lunch time at this point. Trying to explain that we’re walking across the busy road and through the maze of sidewalks and strip malls to a 5 year old was an interesting conversation. She didn’t like it at first, but I explained that God gave us all strong and healthy legs and that little walk wasn’t going to hurt us. As God’s child, I’m sure he get’s tired of my grumbling, whining and not taking care of my “things”. And here’s what this day taught me:
It would have been really easy to be bitter and angry during this time. It was cold out. For some reason I had only worn an oversized sweater and opted to not put on a coat. Willa had to be carried the entire walk because I do not trust her, or the drivers on the busy road, to stay walking and driving in the appropriate places and to also stop where they should. My arms hurt. And I wasn’t sure how long it would be before we were able to be home and warm again.
But guess what, we have a warm house that I knew, without doubt, that we would return to. I have two little girls that I am lucky enough to be able to hold. We had the money the buy lunch, even if it wasn’t the healthiest option or what I had originally planned on doing for the day. We later passed an elderly man pushing a grocery cart, hunched over and also using a cane and it looked so challenging. I was reminded again to be thankful that we had the health and ability to use our legs. The girls were both in a really good mood during the entire ordeal, singing and happily telling everyone that “we can’t go home because we don’t have any keys.”
I had a friend growing up whose mom always told her to wear clean underwear, because you never know when you might be in a car accident and end up in the hospital. While that’s not the only reason I think one should wear clean underwear, and if I were in a car accident that might not be the first thing on my mind – we often joked that not only do we wear clean underwear daily, but also ones that match our outfits because you just never know who might end up seeing them.
I overthink every situation. I’m usually overdressed, have extra snacks, never leave the house without the girls in matching undies, pants, coats, shoes, hats, pink hairbows – the package is always complete, whether we’re just running to Meijer real quick or headed to a fancy party. Wednesday was the ONE DAY probably all year that I didn’t properly comb Willa’s hair and was too lazy to dig out a hairbow. I was too tired to make Gretta put on her warm snow boots after preschool, because the ground was dry and it wasn’t snowing – it seemed a little unnecessary. I also did not have an extra set of mittens in the car. All of those things would have been nice and warm and convenient. And much of it is for vanity’s sake, but it’s like running into your ex while wearing sweatpants and without makeup on and you sort of want to hide in the corner so he doesn’t see you. There’s a reason that I take the time to pack snacks and do what I do. Instead I felt like we were on display for over 4 hours. Keep a coat and hats and mittens in your car (even though in this case I couldn’t have gotten to them because my car was locked, and my keys were missing). I will continue to always be prepared, reminding myself of the lessons of this day and no longer feeling foolish for what might seem like crazy, ocd tendancies.
I am that person who is entirely guilty of making fun of those who wear pajamas in public and often find myself wondering if people bothered to look in a mirror before they left the house. But if you read point 2, then you know that we weren’t exactly looking our prime, especially with our red noses and the wind whipping us about. It’s a little thing, but I really think I need to stop judging people. I don’t know what their day held, what trials are going on in their lives and where their priorities for the day lie.
Grace /grās/ noun
Doesn’t that sound like something we could all use – both definitions?
I’m not trying to make the mundane if life sound funny or more important than it is. I know there are people out there will real struggles – hunger, poverty, infertility, job loss – the list could go on for hours. And I often feel guilty when I find myself grumpy, in a bad mood or claiming to have had a “bad day” just because a series of unfortunate and less than pleasant events took place, which really makes me feel even worse. Just extend grace and find gratitude, regardless of the situation.
Photography: Hetler Photography
For those of you hoping that I’ll finish my story. The happy ending is the lessons I learned. The end of the story is that after 4 1/2 hours my husband was able to come and pick us up (we killed some time walking around Meijer after our extended Culver’s visit – they share a parking lot, thank goodness!) He dropped us off at home, went back to work and the dog went outside and rolled in some poop. So instead of unloading groceries and catching up on missed emails for the day, I gave the dog a bath. It’s two days later now and my keys are still gone.