Last Friday, I completely lost it. Not the yelling-like-a-maniac-over-spilled-milk lost it, but the collapse-on-the-floor-and-cry kind of lost it.
It started out with a simple plan to go to the store to pick up some chocolate for an at-home date with my favorite man. He’s been facing some crazy deadlines at work so we haven’t had a lot of time together lately, and I wanted to make the weekend count–to have some real quality time together. So, I got the kids bundled, grabbed the diaper bag, found the keys, got everyone buckled in, and turned on the car.
Except it didn’t turn on. I didn’t even get a click or a flashing light. Nothing. Completely dead battery.
And I crumbled. I crumbled because it was the end of a long week. I crumbled because I hadn’t gotten enough sleep since my toddler has recently decided it’s fun to wake up several times a night. I crumbled because I really wanted to be able to do something nice for husband, and I was failing. I crumbled because I knew it was my own fault the battery was dead since I had let the boys play in the car and didn’t double check that all the lights were off. I crumbled because if we didn’t go to the store, I had to think of some other way to occupy the boys for the next hour…which may as well have been eternity on a Friday afternoon. I crumbled because in that moment, I wanted someone to come dashing in and take over. But there wasn’t anyone else there.
After taking some aggression out on the steering wheel and telling the kids they were not allowed to play in the car anymore, I unbuckled them, brought everyone back inside, and just collapsed onto the bench by the door.
“Mom, what can we do?” Little Man asked.
“Just go play with…something,” I replied, too harshly. And then softening, “Mommy needs a minute.”
The boys were worried; I could tell. And I felt bad. I knew that it wasn’t really that big a deal if we didn’t go get the chocolate. My husband would understand, the car would be easy to fix once he got home, and the simple little problem didn’t exactly qualify as Shakespearean tragedy. But, at the time, it felt like a big deal. It was the straw that broke the mom’s back. I was exhausted and didn’t want to be “mom” for a little while.
I sat there with my eyes closed while I listened to my boys driving cars around in the family room, trying to regain my composure and willing myself to be calm. Because I am the mom. And what do we moms do in situations like this? We get over it, because there are little people depending on us.
I could tell myself that, but I was still NOT over it. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t fix this problem.
And in that moment, I realized, I don’t have to fix it. I’m not alone. I have a great neighbor next door who practically has the contents of an entire Home Depot store in his garage. I knew he was home, and I knew he would be willing to help. And so, as hard as it is for me to impose on other people…I went and knocked on his door.
In 20 minutes, he had my car up and running again.
As I finally turned the car on successfully, the hazard lights started flashing, still going from when my boys had pushed the button the previous day. No wonder the car had died. As I reached to turn them off, I thought about the purpose of that button: to signal to others that you are in distress.
So often, we try to do everything ourselves, and we run ourselves ragged trying to be the CEOs of our homes. But, sometimes, it’s good to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Not just to accept help, but to ask for it when we need it. We are in each other’s lives for a reason.
So, if you need to, remember that it’s okay to push the hazard light button. You don’t have to solve every problem and be everything to everyone. Ask for help. In my experience people are more than willing to jump in and get the car rolling again.
Just be sure to turn off the lights when your emergency is done.
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