The Littlest and I had ourselves quite an adventure this past Friday morning. In what was going to be the time and space of a normal morning, anticipating the coming weekend, and moving through the bustle of our routines, I was again stretched, reminded to breathe and thankful for my blessings, especially the blessing of community.
Three days a week, our mornings can be a little hectic. The Eldest attends school at our church, a program run by a friend of ours and staffed by familiar faces. It is because we adore these folks and the loving work of Jesus that happens here that I make the sometimes forty minute drive, side by side business professionals commuting to work. Though with the change from Daylight Savings, the Little Ones have been rising earlier, and our movements through getting dressed, teeth brushed, bellies full, bags packed and ready to go have been flowing together with less haste.
Friday mornings are an especially nice time for the Littlest and I. After walking The Eldest to his classroom and giving enthusiastic hugs and kisses, she challenges me to chase her up the ramp as we slowly make our way back to the car. Here there is no hustle: we have some time to pass before we share our music class together. This class has been a sweet time, just the two of us together. She glows with the undivided attention, and I am eager to lavish it on her. Today was our last class of the session, made more sad by the fact that the program is closing at the end of 2011.
After chatting with some friends on our way out, I casually plunked the Littlest into her car seat, buckled her in, and gave no thought at all as I tossed my keys, as I so often do, onto the drivers seat before closing her door. It was less than a breath later as I tugged on the handle of my door, a moment of clarity falling sharply: locked. All of the doors: locked. While I had been carelessly sharing details of my upcoming weekend with a friend, the Littlest had been entertaining herself with the buttons on my key fob: locked. There she was, on one side of the door, smiling wide at me from her seat; here was I, on the other. My keys set mocking me on my seat.
I didn’t panic, yet. There were two women chatting in the parking lot. I approached them with my situation, and both hugely sympathetic, offered themselves to me. With these moms smiling and giggling at my Littlest, I went in search of help. My cell phone and wallet were among the other important things also inside my car. Inside the church, I found the sexton, another familiar face, and he preached the love of Christ to me in his actions for the next 45 minutes while he lay aside his other tasks and patiently tried to break into my car. It was as I was trotting back to my car (my 32-weeks-pregnant-body trying not to pee my pants) that I quietly let some tears slide down my cheeks. By the time I returned to my car, I was buttressed by the encouraging, and normalizing, words of these two moms, who until this morning were complete strangers to me.
The Littlest chirped cheerfully to herself in the car. She could reach her books and was content waving to me every few minutes. The weather was temperate: 40 degrees and overcast, alleviating much of my fear for her inside the car. It became clear that my car needed a professional to get into it; the moms stayed by the Littlest so that I could run into the school office to find the right phone numbers and make the right calls. All along the way, I was met with the blessings of unknown community, offering a kind smile or a similar story.
AAA came 30 minutes after I had called. He was here for less than one minute, using his professional tools and experience to make light work of our predicament. The sexton, though he knew that more knowledgeable help was coming, never gave up on me. Saying he never was one to quit a job, he wiggled his slim jim with such patience and vigor that I felt so sure that any moment he would pop the door open. The two moms laid aside their morning plans to make sure that we were safe and OK. The door opened, I unbuckled the Littlest from her seat, where she had been safe and contained the whole time, and we paraded through the school, making sure that all who had helped us along the way knew that we were rescued and fine.
I was back in my car, keys in the ignition, cell phone and coffee in hand, debriefing the morning, with the dawning realization that we had missed our last music class. A dear friend, knowing what I needed more than I did, after a quick text or two, invited the Littlest and I to interrupt her plans, a working coffee, and join her for a hug and comfort.
Throughout this whole thing we were all fine: the Littlest was fine inside the car, I was fine rising to the challenge of doing what was necessary. But what was more than fine was the blessing that I received: the blessing of familiar faces, and of strangers. The blessing of moms who’ve been there, and moms who haven’t. The blessings of care, and love, and community. The blessing of seeing others step up to help a panicked pregnant mom in need. My needs were small this morning, really. But they were real, and they were answered in real ways.
It’s experiences like this one that I need to cause me to confront the borders of my own little world. It’s easy to operate as the one-woman-show I think I am. But I’m not. It’s easy to carry on, not noticing those who I share life with, however small of a piece it may be. I need these adventures to teach me to roll with the punches, to continue to breath when sometimes it seems hard, to see with real eyes what is around me, and be thankful for it all. Sometimes it just takes being locked out.