You know the expression, “Man plans, and God laughs”? I think God’s done a LOT of laughing regarding my tendency to try & control circumstances that simply can’t be controlled. My typical reaction to unexpected or stressful situations is to quickly compile a mental list of all the reasons that THIS particular event is ruining my life, along with 348 other reasons.
My reaction: I’d huff. I’d cry. I’d mentally complain about the injustice of the situation, whatever it may be. This toddler shot of #4 pretty much nails it:
This is one of those qualities about myself that I’ve become far more aware of since I had kids, because let’s face it, with kids, you are constantly facing the unexpected. As of late I’ve really been trying to adjust my perspective in order to not, for lack of a better term, BUG OUT when things don’t go according to plan (or don’t go well at all).
Me: “This positive, prayerful mindset is REALLY working for me!”
Life: “Haha…oh, really? WATCH THIS!”
This morning was one of those mornings where we had a very tight schedule to stick to; #1 had her monthly orthodontist visit at 9;20am, so in order to make it, we had to haul booty out the door and off to school. After dropping the school crew, we hiked over to the office, making it there with five minutes to spare, which never happens. #Winning.
Now since the orthodontist’s office is on a very busy main road with no parking, I park in a *public* lot adjacent to the office’s strip.
(*private lot. PRIVATE. I know that, NOW.*)
For virtually every appointment, #1 goes in herself for a quick check while I wait in the parked car with #6. But this morning, I decided to go in with her, because- good mom moment, right?
We were only in the office for twenty minutes. #1, #6 and I stroll out, talking cheerfully, only to get to the parking lot and find the car is…. NOT…THERE.
I can’t quite describe the exact emotion that is experienced when you see that your car is gone. Just gone.
Denial: “If I just keep looking, I’ll find it. Um.. nope. Still no.”
Confusion: “But… it was right there.. no, seriously.”
Outrage: “Who would dare steal a MINIVAN?? Animals!”
Indecision: “Uhh.. do I call the police? The Captain? A taxi? What happens now??”
Disgust: “Crap. All those strollers, gone. The cars seats, GONE.”
Panic: “S^%t. I’m the adult in charge here.”
#1 was momentarily befuddled- “did you LOSE it?” but then her confusion gave way to giggles of hilarity, which is VERY disconcerting when you’re trying to mentally sort out why someone would want to steal a mom-mobile when there are far more sweet rides to choose from in the lot.
So I called The Captain.
Me: “I just got out of #1’s appointment, and the car is gone. I think it was stolen.”
The Captain: “Gone? Not where you left it?”
THEN I spotted the sign.
You know- the “don’t park here EVER, EVER, EVER because if you do, someone will tow your car and you’ll have no car and be stuck with a bored toddler in a parking lot that thankfully has a dumpster to eat out of, which is good because toddlers get hungry and you’re never leaving this parking lot, EVER.” sign.
..or it may have said, “Private Parking- Tow Away Zone.” Whatever.
I called the number of the tow truck company that was listed on the sign; a very friendly man assured me that yes, my car was towed by them, and he’d be happy to return it to me, for a cost of $135. Cash.
And the tow truck driver would return within ten minutes, so time was fleeting to find a place to get cash.
Here was the defining moment.
My typical reaction to such a situation would have been despair. Living paycheck to paycheck as we do, $135 may as well have been $1350- it’s money we can’t afford to lose in such a foolish way. I would have been angry at myself, angry at the irony of the moment- the ONE time I didn’t stay in the car?!, etc.
But I didn’t react that way.
In a moment that could have been disastrous, I kept my calm. I quickly prayed through it, and realized- it was what it was. There was no use groaning about the money, because it was done. There was no purpose in bemoaning the fact that we were momentarily stranded in a parking lot.
I was able to see the moments of grace in the unfortunate.
- I was thankful that there was a grocery store ATM mere feet away, where I was able to retrieve the money.
- I was grateful that it only took 10 minutes for the tow truck driver to return with my car, considering that #6’s enthusiasm for parking lot sight-seeing was quickly evaporating.
- I was grateful that instead of complaining and allowing my negative attitude to be contagious, #1 and I were actually able to laugh it off, and ended up in hysterical laughter at the odd turn of events.
- I was grateful that God showed me that I AM capable of handling adverse circumstances without losing my hope or perspective.
And most importantly, I was grateful that I was able to see how essential it was in the moment to model the right attitude for my kids. Because the reality is, crappy moments come at us from unexpected corners at any given time. We can’t necessarily prevent them, but we can muddle through them with the right mindset and provide a good example to our kids on how to handle life’s curveballs with grace, strength, and even humor.
Less on learned: priceless
(well, $140. Because driver didn’t have change)
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