Wednesday had been a great day at the Fun House. My parents came over to spend the day with the kids and allow me some rest. Mom helped with lunch, laundry and even got me started on dinner…and at 9 months pregnant, I will accept any and all help! Joel called around 6:15 and said he was headed home, which was perfect as I was just finishing up dinner (the first time I’d semi-cooked all week). I was so excited that he’d be able to eat with us and postponed the kids a few extra minutes with pretzels to allow him the time home for our dinner together.
At 6:30, Joel called and said he’d gotten a flat tire on the way home. Bummer! Fortunately, he wasn’t far from home, and he did think he’d be able to change it, but he would be home a little later than expected. Sad times! So I sat the kids down and began to feed them a mouth-watering pork chop with mashed potatoes and all the trimmings.
At 6:45, Joel called to say that his car had all the things he needed to change a flat except for a tire iron…could I help him out? I explained that I’d just sat the kids down to feed them and would need a few minutes to finish them off before loading them up. He was content to wait and seemed certain that my car would have the tools that he needed in the back to finish the job. After bribing them to eat quickly, I grabbed all the supplies that I thought were necessary…drinks for everyone, snacks for the kids and a flashlight….after all, it would be dark in an hour. After I changed Seth’s diaper and Ella and I made it through the bathroom, we were on our way to rescue Daddy around 7.
Joel explained his coordinates and we easily found him safely tucked off a side road through a large, wooded park. There was plenty of room for me to pull my vehicle near his, roll down the windows in my Suburban, settle the kids with their drinks and snacks and turn on a movie for them to watch. Of course, I completely turned off my car to save the small amount of gas I had left. After all, how long could this take?
By 7:15, we’d located the tire iron in the back of my car and like monkeys working a puzzle, finally figured out how to assemble the four pieces that it was broken down into. I’m not wanting to take anything away from Joel at this point….he can change a flat tire. But he was exhausted, had been working long hours all week (this was his first time to see the kids in a few days) and was planning to work a few hours at home, after dinner, to prepare for a BIG presentation at work the day following.
Back to it- the hubcap had to come off the tire. Joel worked and worked and worked to get that danged thing off and it wouldn’t budge. (It is a “luxury vehicle” and apparently has a little lock on it, to which we couldn’t find the key nor pry it open with a tire iron.) At 7:30, my patience was wearing thin as daylight was fading, mosquitos were getting thick and I HAD to go to the bathroom….after all, it had been almost an hour since my last trip and I AM 9 months pregnant. I threw my frustrated hat in and said I was calling someone. After we argued for a minute as to who I was actually going to call and then which one of us would be quicker at finding a wrecker service, Joel was on the phone with several different companies trying to get the fastest guy to the scene….and the best deal? This took some time….well, longer than I had in me patience. The kids were fussy, momma was fussy and it was now dark at 7:45.
I HAD to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t wait another minute…and Joel said the help wasn’t coming for about another hour. You know, I’ve had two children….about to have my third. I grew up having gone camping and hec, I was even in 4H for a couple of years. Roughing it in the woods wasn’t something I was excited about, however I knew it could be done. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Without much delay, I tromped out a few feet from the car (we were in complete privacy and complete darkness) and proceeded to take care of things. While I was in the middle of things…you know…my left hand lit up light it was on fire. Oh yes, you guessed it. I was stuck, taking care of business, with tall, unmowed grass grazing areas I never thought would be grazed and my hand nestled in a bed of fire ants. All I could do was finish the job as quickly as possible….after all, I couldn’t lift up my hand and risk falling over….or worse….falling IN IT! Maybe if I wasn’t carrying an extra 30 pounds of girth around my middle, but the position I was in was hard enough to maintain for even 30 seconds. Moments later, I heard Ella call out from the car, “Look! Mommy’s going potty in the grass! That’s FUNNY!!!!” and proceeded to laugh hysterically. If she was older than four, I might have curtly told her to “SHUT UP!” at that point, but what kind of an example would I be? I bit my tongue while ants bit my hand, finished the job and then got the hec out of dodge.
“That’s it!” I announced. “I’m tired of being eaten alive by mosquitos and ants! I’m hot- we’re all hot! I’m not waiting another minute out here with you…you’ll have to do it by yourself. I’m going to the nearest gas station and am going to find a wrecker and will personally drive him over here to rescue your car. It’s 8:00- I’m out of here!” And with that, I waddled over to the driver’s seat, slammed myself shut in the Suburban, gruffed at the kids to hush and buckle up, then put the keys into my ignition and started…..nope. MY car was dead. No lights, no response- gone. “The movie must have run down the battery,” said Joel.
It didn’t take much convincing for Joel to drive his car next to mine- though he was literally driving on a flat rim- to jump my car. The only thing we did right that night was have a pair of jumper cables in the back of Joel’s car. As he was carefully trying to get the reds and the blacks lined up on the car batteries, Ella announced that she, too, had to go to the bathroom. REALLY? My kids didn’t even have shoes on…don’t judge me. I asked her in as many ways as I could if she really needed to go, or if she was just joking. But in her mind, it was urgent and it was NOW. So, I carried her out into the grass and while I proceed to bend over and hold her up (how many times do I have to remind you that I’m going to have a baby in a month or less?), Joel is yelling at me, “START THE CAR! EM, TRY IT! START THE CAR!”
“I guess I really don’t have to go!” said Ella with a giggle. I almost left her out in the field. Joel was standing next to a running motor, so he couldn’t hear a word I was yelling….all I could do was get back over there as quickly as possible….in the dark….with a shoe-less four year old…who just wanted “an experience.” As I made my way back to the car with Ella tucked under one arm, underwear still around her ankles, Joel finally heard me snap, “SHE HAD TO GO!”
Praise the Lord! My car started and I peeled out on him and everything else around 8:15 to get to the nearest gas station, because I didn’t even have enough gas to get home. On my way home, I noticed a high pitched beeping sound in the front cabin of my car that wasn’t there before it was being charged. “Lord, I know I’ve got a bad attitude, but please don’t blow us up!” I prayed. I got gas and the beeping continued while the car was turned off. I felt a little more secure because at this point, at least me and the kids were in civilization under the lights of the gas pump. To my relief, the car started again, it didn’t blow up, and the kids and I made it home by 9 pm. After a quick bath and no books, I got them in bed and I was laying on the couch at 9:15, on my left side, guzzling water, and counting contractions. Joel got home around 9:30 and I was so mad I couldn’t even speak….and I was still having contractions. I did manage to tell him about the beeping sound, to which he inspected and said it was the jazzy movie system that he and my brother had rigged a few months ago. All it needed was to be unplugged for a while then plugged back in. He said the sound was gone and the problem was solved. I let it go.
We sucked down dinner together shortly thereafter, exchanged our apologies for things said and attitudes poor. Joel went to work in the office while I lay back down on the couch, still contracting. I was awake through midnight, having contractions every 7-8 minutes and praying desperately to not have our baby born under such circumstances. Sleep came and went throughout the night; contractions were irregular, but there nonetheless. Joel was planning to leave that morning around 6. I heard him get up and get dressed, so I assumed he was gone.
At 7, I woke up and to my surprise, I hadn’t given birth overnight and Joel was still home. “My spare tire is now flat,” he said calmly, taking into consideration my delicate state. He’d been up working longer than I was contracting, and looked worn out himself, but it was the day of the big presentation! He had to get to work! We devised a plan that would allow me to drop Ella off at preschool, then come exchange spots with him while he’d wait at Discount Tire for Seth and I to bring him the Suburban to take to work. He left without breakfast to get in line at the tire place and I got myself and the kids ready for the day. At 8:40, we walked out the door, fed, polished and ready for a new day! I buckled them into their seats and popped in to start the car. AND IT WAS DEAD AGAIN. I can’t make this up….and I’m not even done with the story….we’ve just made a cake here people, hold out for the icing!
The beeping sound was back. THAT DANGED MOVIE SYSTEM! I frantically called Joel and he was actually leaving the tire store as they’d repaired things more quickly than expected. He came right back home and quickly jumped the Suburban while I angrily disassembled every wire that I could find that was associated with that media system. He agreed to take the Suburban in so I could take his “reliable” car to and from Ella’s school that day, and after transferring the car seats over and a quick look over from me to make sure his shirt wasn’t dirty, Joel headed off to work at 9:30.
The kids and I loaded the car and were on our way again, just moments behind him. I realized that Ella would be about 30 minutes late to school, but I was determined to get her there. After all, the worst was behind us! I bowed my head in the car and just prayed out loud with the kids before we left the driveway…asking the Lord to protect us from any more car trouble or disaster…and to help us have a better attitude when tough things come our way.
Now for the icing.
Minutes later, I pulled out of our neighborhood and saw a traffic cop flagging me down in the middle of my lane and pointing me into a shopping strip. Wait a minute. No, just wait a second here. Am I? Am I getting pulled over? I’M GETTING PULLED OVER! Before I could even stop the car or pull out my license and registration, I was sobbing. Not just tears, not a cry for sympathy, SOBS were gushing out of me so much that I couldn’t even get a word out as I rolled down the window. I remember the conversation with the VERY KIND officer to sound something like this:
Officer: Ma’am?….. Oh ma’am! Oh gosh! I’m so sorry…are you okay here? Wow..hi kids! How’s everyone this morning? Oh ma’am! I’m sorry….It’s going to be okay…just what’s going on for you this morning ma’am?
Me: I…have had….the wors….the worst day and ni..ni..night…of my life! (handing him my stuff)
Officer: Well what’s going on? (looking at my licence) Ma’am? Just calm down and it’s going to be okay…okay? Tell me what’s going on this morning.
Ella: Why are you crying mommy?
Me: (to Ella) Mommy’s just tired. (to the officer) My husband…got a flat last night! (sobs) Then my car died….(sobs)…and I am 9 months pregnant! (heavy sobs) And I was up…all night….thinking I was in labor….and…this morning….his car had another flat. And my car died again….and….and…(sobbing so badly at this point that I couldn’t even talk or breathe. I was pretty much just sitting in my chair with snot and tears running down my face, jerking where I was supposed to be breathing.)
Officer: Oh ma’am! You don’t have to say anything more…I understand car problems. (I’m sobbing hysterically still) One week my transmission went out in my motorcycle and the next week it went out in my truck. (to the kids) Y’all doing good this morning, kids? (to me) It just has to get better from here, ma’am.
Me: I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry… I know I was sp..sp..speeding. I s..s..see you here everything morning. And I’m a very caref-f-f-f-ul person. I just…was late…and I…I can’t take driver’s training…I, I, I’m about to have a baby!
Ella: Mommy, are you going to cry when Kyle is born? (ok, that was out of left field…???)
Me: I don’t know honey, mommy is just tired and hungry…it’s okay..it’s okay….I’m okay. Mommy is okay.
Officer: Ma’am, I’m so sorry. I’m not going to give you a ticket, I promise. It’s going to be okay. One thing I’ve learned from this job is not to make a pregnant woman angry!
Me: I promise I’m not crying to try to manipulate you! I never act like this when I get pulled over! (sobs) I’m not angry….I was sp…sp…speeding!!!!
Officer: This is just a formality, I promise. You’ll be just fine.. just take a deep breath and after you get those kids to school, you just go back to bed ma’am…get you something to eat.
After a few more exchanges and once I calmed down, he sent me on my way and I honestly think he felt worse for pulling me over than I did about speeding! Several times on the way to school, Ella asked if I was going too fast or if I was obeying the policeman. We had a great talk and object lesson about how I deserved consequences, but the officer showed mommy grace, etc. It was all I could do to pull myself together when I just wanted to cry for a full hour or MORE, but I couldn’t send my little lady into school with a hysterical mother. How is that a good start to anyone’s day?
Once we arrived at school, I walked her in to find an empty room. We hung up her backpack and I caught the eye of another teacher across the hall to ask where her class might be. After she told me they were in Chapel and that it was too difficult to find from where we were…..because it was on the opposite side of the church…she’d have to walk us….I felt like I was going to faint. I was exhausted, I was hungry, I was carrying a 30-pound Seth, and I had no gusto whatsoever to walk clear across the church. Slow, quiet sobs started to seep from the back of my throat. The teacher looked at me and I told her that I was just pulled over and that we’d had car trouble all night and morning….tears started streaming. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll just walk her over myself. You go home and rest!”
And that’s exactly what I did. And I’m still pregnant. And it could have been a whole lot worse. The Lord is so good- I can laugh about it all now, still amazed that all happened over the course of about 12 hours. My ant bites and our mosquito bites are quickly healing, the baby excitement has once again calmed down. God’s promises are true:
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning!” Psalm 30:5