Written by: Kira Montuori
Last Thursday I took a quick trip to my hometown of Chicago. I was a little run-down having just wrapped up an event. As I was loading up my nine-year-old, Milana and three-year-old, Theo, I felt a sore throat coming on so I slammed a Vitamin C drink in attempts to back it off.
Of my four kids, my Theo is our hardest and represents the dreaded plight of many three year olds – dramatically impatient, frighteningly impulsive, easily agitated, annoyingly loud, and embarrassingly aggressive. And this is when he’s at 100%.
Traveling 8+ hours in a car isn’t easy for most kids so for my Theo you can imagine the fun. By the time we got to my mom’s and settled in, he didn’t get to bed until 10:15. He woke the next morning at 5:45am. Why he hates me I don’t know. And despite waking up that early Friday and even earlier on Saturday (5:36!!!), he behaved fairly well for grandma (figures) while I was working.
With accumulated sleepiness front and center, we headed back home on Sunday. I knew the stage was set for something special (and by special I mean hell on wheels). The trip would require all of the tolerance, restraint and head down, plow-ahead I could muster especially since the punk sore throat had progressed into a full on fat man sitting on my heavy chest and a smoker’s hacking cough.
The first six hours were hard, but manageable… and then he fell asleep. I was like, “YES!” and then 15 minutes later he woke up and I was like, “Nooooooo!” The next hour was kind of a blur. There was lots of yelling and tears (from all parties). There was begging and pleading (again, all parties). And there was throwing of many of things (one sole slinger). After a futile 20 minute attempt to soothe him with the holding of my hand (and the contorting of my body to do so), I sat up to find… my gas tank light on. Well, crap.
The call to my husband went like this. “Hey babe, I need you to be on alert. My gas light is on. I’ve passed Chillicothe and the sign says 16 miles till Hamilton. I don’t know when the light went on so not sure if I’m going to make it.”
His response: “How’d that happen?”
Oh I don’t know!!!! For 45 minutes, I’ve been dodging potato chips, water bottles, headphones, crayon cases and 100 other things. I’ve been engaged in failed negotiations for more minutes than seems right for someone with a graduate degree. And all of the holding it together that has brought me thus far is gone with the gas. So I’m not sure how THIS happened but I’m pretty sure I know why people drive off bridges!
“OK honey. Call me if you don’t make it.” (He’s wise to say as little as possible to crazy.)
So as I’m white knuckling the wheel and willing all my weary will to Hamilton, Theo is frantically trying (yelling) to get my attention, “Why are you not answering me?”
“BECAUSE MOMMY IS BUSY IN PRAYER.”
And HIS mercy came through. We made it to Hamilton and all the way home (I may or may not have had my headphones on for the remaining 90 minutes.)
After a long shower, I texted my best friend to see if she wanted to get a late massage at her favorite Asian (but no funny business) massage place. My husband was fully against it “Kira, you need to rest. You’re sick. You’re tired. You just got back from combat.”
But here’s the thing: I needed that massage. And I needed to see my friend. The time, the laughing till I cried is what filled my empty tank back up…it was my super unleaded.
Sometimes as women, we put a lot of other needs before our own. It’s what makes us the most amazing. :) But it is also what makes us the most vulnerable to the internal empty tank light and the rise in fumes of self-pity, resentment and lots of really un-useful things.
For me it was friend time and a massage. It’s probably different for all of us but we all need to find our fill-ups and the things that help keep our crazy trains (vans) on the track. And intentionally make time for them…even if it’s 9:00 at night sometimes. Because being a woman, a mom, a wife, a home owner, a driver to anywhere with children in the car and an alive human being is hard. But a little happy can go a long way.
Find what it is for you and fill that tank too!
Hugs and LOVE, Kira
Kira is a Kansas City wife, mom of four, storyteller + author of the blog www.middlemoments.com