Some days, as a mom of little kids, it seems like all the cards are stacked against you. In those times, it can be extremely difficult to practice gratitude. It is kind of hard to be grateful when you are cleaning up your third potty accident of the day, and you are already ten minutes late for dance class because your five-year-old can only find one tap shoe, and your dog just threw up on the carpet. But if we can stop complaining about all the (sometimes literal) crap we have to deal with, and look at our lives through a lens of gratitude, it can change everything. I saw that very clearly today.
The last couple of weeks have been extremely tough, physically and emotionally. I had a full week of being miserably sick that included 48 hours straight of a 102+ fever, 2 ER visits, and a spinal tap. By the way, that turned out not to be meningitis as feared, but some sort of mystery virus that eventually cleared up with broad spectrum antibiotics.
In addition to the mini-plague that my girls probably brought home as a gift from their first month of Kindergarten, I have also been dealing with all the emotions that come with having a friend and fellow mom who is in hospice and on the final steps of her cancer journey.
Back to today. I had a good start. My husband took the kids to school so I actually got up and did some yoga after my morning tea. Then I namaste’d myself and stood up to check the time. I found that my phone was locked in a black screen with the spinning wheel of death. By the time I got to the office it had still not started up. I decided it was time to make a Genius bar appointment. All the ones close to my home/office did not have openings until Saturday so I grudgingly took an appointment in Plano.
I should mention here that my plan was to take my phone to the store to get it repaired and then head to my friend’s house to sit with her awhile. She doesn’t live close to me, but the phone appointment was headed in her direction. I was hoping to get it fixed quickly, swing by for a visit, and get back in time to pick up the girls from school.
While driving, I was definitely not on my phone–I was distracted. I think a lot when I’m driving, and I was probably not thinking about where I was going as much as I should have been. But I was just kind of driving along, and went through an intersection. All of the sudden a car hit mine hard and pushed me into a median. It was so fast that I legitimately did not know what happened
I tried to take stock of the situation. Car is stopped, I’m not hurt, no airbag went off. Then, I started to spiral…I’m in the middle of an intersection, what do I do? Is the car drive-able? I don’t have a phone- how am I going to call anyone for help? What if my friend dies today and I never made it to see her because I crashed my car into this median just trying to fix my stupid phone?!? I was definitely crying at this point, heading toward hysterical, and most likely within range of a panic attack.
But then a uniform approached me. He was the nicest police officer I have ever met. He asked if I was hurt and I stammered, “no,” but started crying even harder. I for real don’t know how he did it, but somehow he calmed me down and then helped us get the cars into the parking lot. He asked me what happened and I told him the truth, “I don’t know,” and then started sobbing again.
The dude was for real not phased by my tears. He just coached me through breathing (should have thought of that- I am a Yogi and all) and then asked which way I was going. After a bit of back and forth with the other driver, he helped me realize what went wrong. The lane I was in is a turn only lane between 11am-2pm but not on the other hours. I saw the straight or turn marking (like where you can do either) and went straight. What I did not notice was the other sign that said that it was turn only at certain times of the day.
I would like to publicly state that I believe that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. That said, the accident was technically my fault. The other guy was merging because I should have been turning but I went straight and hence the boom.
Officer PatientUnderstandingandImmuneToMyHysterics explained that we were in Dallas and he was Richardson PD so he couldn’t help with an official report. He said that both of us had valid ID’s and insurance and suggested we could just figure out the rest from here. After a brief chat with the other driver we agreed and I said goodbye to mystery officer. I was so shaken that I never even asked his name, but he was truly a hero to me.
Then I took a deep breath (breathe in what you want to manifest, breathe out negativity) and walked over to face the other driver. And he was awesome.
This guy was totally un-phased by the whole thing. He said he works right across the street and that the intersection is always a mess. When I apologized he said, “Hey, that’s why it’s called an accident!”
I did remember to get his name…Aaron. Aaron casually remarks, “you have something leaking out from your car.” As I go back to panic mode… Is it Gas? Brake fluid? Is something about to blow up?! He calmly leans down, touches the wet spot, smells his hand and explains, “Just windshield wiper fluid.”
Aaron’s calm demeanor settles me down a bit and then I realize…I still don’t have a phone. I have to ask Aaron if I can borrow his to call my husband (thank God I have his number memorized!) And he is like sure, oh and by the way pop your hood and I’ll see if there is any damage to the engine or radiator. Um…O.K.
Long story long, eventually I reach my husband and he comes to help. We get a tow for Aaron’s car and mine is able to drive the 3 minutes to an auto-body repair shop. Which is owned by the company my husband works for, so that works out well.
Then I drive to the Apple store close to my kids’ school. I decide just to wait in the long line with no appointment because I am not sure I can make it until Saturday with no phone. After about 15 minutes in line, a really nice woman tells me that it will be three and a half hours if I put my name on the list. Then she takes my phone, looks at it and does some sort of magic and the phone restarts and works perfectly! I thank her and walk out of there with time to grab a grilled cheese and tomato soup from Highland Park Soda Fountain before I have to dash off to school pickup.
On the way to their school, I start to think about the day. I think of how horrible it was–broken phone, car accident, missed visit with a dying friend. And then I stop. I realize that if I really look at the day I have A LOT to be grateful for.
I feel gratitude for the most awesome police officer. For Aaron and his kindness towards me. For my husband, who rather than getting mad or frustrated, had been nothing but loving and supportive. Gratitude for my husband’s job, which will hopefully get us a discount on what I am sure will be a hefty repair bill.
I am grateful that no one was hurt. That the kids weren’t in the car. That I am still here and healthy and able to hug my kiddos tight when I pick them up.
Awash in gratitude, I realize that my phone got fixed with minimum hassle and no expense. That I had time for a meal of comfort food eaten all by myself!
By changing the way I looked at the day, I went to pick up my kids excited to see them. Ready to give them all the snuggles they wanted. Actually wanting to get down on the floor and play with them.
Then my husband called and said he had to work late. At the end of a hard day this would usually be extremely frustrating for me. But I flipped my gratitude switch and remembered to be thankful he has a good job that he likes. I decided to be grateful for the extra girl time. We put on all of their play jewelry and had a massive “fancy” dance party. As we were jumping on the beds (well, they were, I probably would have broken something- either the bed or myself) to “Fight Song,” I had a flash. One of those rare moments of understanding when you realize how precious your time with your kids is. When you almost see outside of yourself and note that this will be something you will always remember.
At the end of today, which could have been horrible, I find myself not thinking of the crash, or the phone drama, or even of the tragedy that is playing out for a friend of mine. Instead I revel in the gratitude that I am feeling for the beauty that is in my life. That I got to share in the abandon and joy that is present in a pair of 5 year-olds rocking out to a song they love. That we are all (mostly) healthy, and safe, and all our needs are met.
And I am grateful that I have a tomorrow. I don’t know what new challenges that will bring, but if I can just remind myself to practice gratitude, I think I’ll make it through just fine.