Today wasn't an easy day. I mean, if we're being honest (and that's what this is) it hasn't been an easy TIME. Being back in California has its positives (I'm looking at you, friends) but it's also been a huge stress. We miss Texas - almost everything about it, actually - but especially the life we built there, our community, the great activities for our family and the cost of living. I feel like I'm supposed to stop there and it's not polite to talk about money, or politics, or religion, but UGH. It's expensive to live here. Really expensive. And if we're being really REALLY honest, we're struggling. Dogs getting cancer and roofs needing to be replaced and relocating is expensive. State income taxes are no joke. Having four kids isn't the cheapest choice. We're managing and we'll get by, but it's stressful.
Personally, I'm struggling because I feel useless. Like I am not contributing to my family. And before you tell me I am contributing, I know what I give my family is priceless. But my time and attention and love doesn't pay the crazy high power bills or the dance tuition. And so today I found myself struggling - trying to find ways to cut corners, save money, and avoid pulling my kids from one of the things they look forward to every Monday.
So with that stress, tied up in knots in my belly, I drove to go wait for Finn. The girls screamed and cried for thirty minutes straight. The knots got bigger and my head felt like I was going to explode. But I didn't, instead I signed up to do surveys as a way to "get extra money fast" and after completing the preliminary questions, I discovered I didn't qualify for any of those. When Finn got in the car, the girls woke up and started screaming. We drove to Zoe's school. I tried to park - a lady honked and yelled at me. I tried to park again, but couldn't do it because there wasn't enough space. I drove to another spot, and the same thing happened. My brain felt so fried and I was so stressed, I couldn't complete a simple task I have done hundreds of times. I pulled up near a lady getting out of her car that she had parked exactly in between where two vehicles could fit and asked her if she would make room for me to park too. I smiled and waved and was kind as I asked this favor of her - she rolled her eyes, backed up a foot and held her hands up, signaling that's all she could do. And so I started to drive on with the girls yelling behind me and I considered driving 3/4 of my kids home and walking to pick up Zoe.
But then a lady stepped out of her car and waved me down. She crossed the street in front of me and said she'd seen me and she would help me. She smiled and waved her arm as she picked up a cone for me to park. And I nearly hit a vehicle driving by me, but this woman, this kind person said "You're OK. Just back in." And I did. I finally parked. And she smiled and I thanked her. And then I burst into tears.
I think I was overwhelmed by how I struggled with such an easy task. Everything felt like crap. I was letting my family down. I was letting my kids down. I should have gotten a degree. I should have done something more and had a career. I should be able to park a minivan!
And I was overwhelmed by this persons act of kindness. She didn't know me. I'd never seen her in my life, but she saw me struggling and she got out of her car to come help me.
"Oh! Don't cry! It's OK!"
So I cried more. Like, ugly, ridiculous cry.
And she waved at me to stop and walked around to my window and said, "I'm a nurse. I can't let you not get a hug right now."
And she reached in my window and hugged me and told me everything was going to be OK. Everyone has their bad days. You're going to be OK.
"Let go and let God."
And I nodded and thanked her and tried to focus on breathing as she smiled and went back to her car.
In the backseat, Charlotte asked me if I was OK. Molly said, "Its OK, mama. You're OK." Finn pushed his way to the front and put his hand on my shoulder and kept it there in silence as we waited for his sister to come out. I focused on breathing. I let Finn explain to Zoe what happened. I accepted their help when they offered to watch their sisters while I took a shower and relaxed. I let people take care of me.
I don't like to let on that I'm stressed or worried. I try to be as positive as I can, but today it was all too much. Today I broke and I had to rely on the kindness of a stranger and my kids to help me move forward. And I wasn't going to even mention it. But for one thing, I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of and that hiding how I'm feeling is a ticket to me feeling worse. And I know that it might be confusing if people ask me how I'm doing and I act uncomfortable answering.
But I also wanted to share because that lady was my angel today. And Finn. And Zoe. I needed them and they were there. It's easy to look the other way and not get involved, but they didn't. They got me through a rough patch. So I want to challenge all of us to do the same. If you see someone needs an act of kindness, give it to them. You don't know what kind of an impact you are making.