Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm sorry and Thank you

Dear guy driving the black Suburban who I ticked off with my reckless and panicked driving today during the tornado,

I'm sorry I honked at you.  A lot.  And zoomed around and cut in front of you.  But you were going 15 miles an hour on the exit ramp during a tornado.  My sick daughter was strapped in her car seat in the backseat, my idiot dog was howling at the sirens in the passenger seat, my mommy heart was a-poundin' and I was a little out of my mind.   Go ahead and tell your friends about the crazy woman (you'll probably use not as nice of a word) who nearly caused a car accident because she was freaking out during what turned out to be minor storms today.  I know you will and I'm okay with it.  You'll probably leave out the part about how you gave me the finger and then pulled up next to me, rolled down your window and said, "What's your problem!"  And you maybe didn't hear me as I blubbered, "I'm sorry! I'm trying to get my baby to a safe place!" You probably think I'm a complete nut case and rightly so.  My brain function definitely feels at about 40% these days.  I guess what I'm saying bad.

Embarrassed woman who clearly needs a lesson in keeping her cool during emergency situations

By way of explanation (or maybe confession), it wasn't like I was out driving and got caught in the storm.  I chose to leave my house when the sirens went off and drive to my parents' house.  We don't have a basement, and visions of Joplin's wreckage were dancing in my head.  So I decided it would be safer to be at my parents' house with a basement than in my house with only a flimsy bathroom for protection.  However, what I was actually deciding was that it would be safer to be in my car than in a secured building.  Not my most shining moment.

Let's just say I have a history of making bad, emotionally-driven decisions when it comes to weather.  The plus side to these bad decisions is that they've made for some good sermon material for my dad.  For example, I may or may not have willingly driven into a blizzard in college in an effort to get home to see Eric (we were dating long-distance).  When I say willingly, I mean willingly.  Have you ever seen those interstate maps online that show road conditions?  You know, blue for wet, green for clear, white for snowy?  I'm not kidding when I say that the day of this particular adventure I-35 through Iowa was marked red with black X's on it.  As in "no one in their right mind should attempt to drive on these treacherous roads."  Well, I wasn't in my right mind.  I was in love.  And where does love get you?  It got me stranded in the ditch in the Middle of Nowhere, Iowa after spinning out and almost hitting a semi.  (Also it gets you a really awesome husband and daughter and a really great life in general, but that's kind of irrelevant to the story.)

Here's where the sermon material comes in.  My dad was at work when he received my sheepish call that I was stranded.  So he did what any good dad would do.  He said a prayer asking the Lord to send angels to protect me and began making plans to risk his own life to drive up and get me and my unwilling accomplice - my roommate Lindsey who tried to talk me out of the trip, but failed and ended up coming with me because she didn't have the heart to let me make it by myself.  (Yeah, she's just that kind of friend.) As he printed out a map to where Linds and I were stranded (Dudley's Corner, wave "hi" to it next time you drive north on I-35!) on the church's shared printer, a co-worker saw it and asked, "Who's going to Latimer?"  When my dad said told her that maybe he was, she said, "My parents live in Latimer!"  Turns out my angels were named Jeanie and Maynerd Agena.  Within an hour Linds and I found ourselves on the Agena's couch watching Oprah and eating pizza.  True story.  You can't make this stuff up, people.

The only thing I remember saying when my car was spinning out of control in the snow storm was "Jesus!  Oh Jesus!" and "I'm sorry Lindsey!" Funnily enough, I think I said, "Oh Jesus! Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ! Oh please!" about a hundred times in the ten minute drive today.  I guess I at least know that in a life or death situation, my instinct is call out to Jesus!  And two for two, he's been faithful!  We (me, Lila and Francy-pants) made it safely to my parents' house where I got a loving lecture about staying indoors during tornados.  It was vaguely similar to the "don't drive in snow storms" lecture which evidently fell on deaf ears.
Lila and her Pop: post tornado excitement
As soon as we were safe and I had come to my senses, I began seriously questioning my fitness as a mother.  Ever since the moment they placed Lila in my arms, I knew she was a priceless treasure.  And it didn't take long before I was questioning my worthiness to be responsible for such a valuable little being.  I remember saying to Eric as we drove Lila home from the hospital (very, very slowly with me in the back seat, hovering over her little body that seemed way too small for the car seat), "Why did they let us take her home?  We don't know what we're doing!"  Sometimes I wonder how in the world I'm qualified to be her mom - especially when I make moronic decisions like getting in the car to "race" a tornado.  I have to remind myself that I'm not qualified.  No parent ever is.  So I try to remember to pray what some of my parents' friends prayed over their kids, "Lord, fill in the gaps."

Lila's only 17 months old and I already have so many stories of the Lord filling in the gaps.  Like the time I found a quarter-sized piece of rubber in 7-month-old Lila's mouth as I was buckling her in the car after a trip to Office Max.  She had picked it up without me noticing it and had been chewing on it for at least 10 minutes.  If I hadn't noticed it then, she could have choked on it as I drove home and I may not have even known.  Or the time that I drove home from lunch with a friend without buckling Lila into her car seat.  I had had her unbuckled in her car seat snapped in the stroller and I simply transferred her seat from the stroller to the car and forgot to buckle her.  I didn't realize it until I went to get her out of the car at home.  Or the time I had a migraine and I lay down on the couch and closed my eyes and fell asleep before I knew it - only to wake up to my daughter teetering precariously from the piece of furniture she had scaled in my lag in supervision.  I could go on and on.

Tonight as I rocked my Baby Girl, my prayers were simply full of "thank yous."

Dear wonderful, powerful, kind Heavenly Father,

Thank you.  Thank you for filling in the gaps.  Thank you for sparing me the consequences of so many stupid, unwise, reckless decisions.  Thank you for protecting us - both from dangers we can see and dangers we can't see.  Thank you. 

Lila's Mommy who needs all the help she can get

Lila Josephine the day we came home from the hospital


Anonymous said...

love it! absolutely love it! i think there is alot of stories out there about people who did not thnk or act so clearly yesterday! so, at least you are not alone kels!
love , mommy

Katy said...

You are definetly not alone, we all do not think clearly at times when it comes to protecting our babes! I am sure the guy has forgiven you or at least has already forgotten about you. I love your latest two stories. Love the mommy for sale!! LOL!

Annabelle said...

You are such a good mamma Kelsey. :)

annaelyse said...

this is beautiful kels. i love your heart, my dear. and you know. you're doing a GREAT job!!!! you really are!!

Caley and Patrick said...

I remember you coming into Heartland on Lila's first Christmas eve in quite a snow blizzard. I was so shocked and impressed to see you there. After all, you were a brand new mommy. I saw this look in your eyes and didn't know quite what it was...Now as I look back I know exactly what it was: exhaustion mixed with "why did they let us take her home?", mixed with "Why did we leave our house?", mixed with exhaustion... I know this now because I have been there (minus the snow storm). You are a great mommy, not just because you do things well, which you do, but because you recognize the gaps God fills and tell him thanks...