I have recently come to the conclusion it is decidedly better to hit the wall sooner rather than later. Not with your SUV mind you. If you’ll remember, that was a guard rail and a minivan. No, I’m talking about reaching your breaking point. The end of your rope. The last straw. And any other idiom that fits in there. Rock bottom may apply.
With the Shuker-mobile out of commission, the insurance company was kind enough to pay for a rental car. Not really kind, it was in our policy. It is amazing how little I cared what my insurance policy said until I needed it. What it says is $30/day for a rental while my car is in the shop getting fixed. Here’s the thing: I paid $30 in 1998 for a rental car that I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It was a Ford Fiesta and I think it had the same motor as a golf cart.
In 1998 I did not have three kids in car seats. So obviously I was going to need more than what insurance covers. I didn’t want to get that much more because I have to pay for this thing until June 10th when my ride will allegedly be its old self. So Mike at the car rental place offered me a “mid-sized SUV” by way of a Jeep Compass. By “mid-sized SUV” what he meant was a station wagon. Technically all three car seats fit in a row. One had to be sort of tilted, but I could get them all in and shut the doors.
And here is where the wall/bottom of rock comes in. One of my most satisfying days as a parent thus far was when my two older children could be told to get in the car and put their seatbelts on and they actually did it. It was like a little mommy miracle. Three car seats in a row does not allow room even for the tiniest hands to fasten seatbelts. Rather, it requires a production of car seat manipulation and leaning on my part. My miracle was revoked.
If that were the worst of it, perhaps I could have suffered through, but no. Close proximity means touching. Children touching each other never ends well when they are trapped in a motor vehicle. Inevitably at least one of them spent the car ride crying and/or retaliating. Then, whenever we arrived at our destination, they could no longer get out on their own either and had to wait for me to free them. This would result in a crescendo of intolerance that had us all screaming. Every trip. Anywhere we went. Oh, hell no.
So I called the rental place and said, “Mike, this Jeep Compass just isn’t working out for me, buddy. I think it is negatively affecting my relationship with my children.” And let me tell you, I had my battle gear on. I happen to have a little experience with trying to get people to take cars back, but that is another story. So when he said, “Ok, I’ve got a Dodge Journey that has a third row of seats, do you think that would work?” I was ready for him. I said, “It might. How much more would that be?” Gotcha now, Mike. “Same price.” Aha! “I’ll be there in five minutes.”
Yup, it took a phone call to save my sanity. Had I made that same phone call three days earlier it would have also saved my weekend and probably the few years of my life that were shaved off in that time. And, Mike didn’t even mind that the inside of the Jeep Compass was full of hay. (I took the kids strawberry picking and the concept of wiping shoes before getting into the car is something they have yet to master.)
I’m not sure why it took this particular incident to bring me to the sooner v. later epiphany, but it did. The thing is, I’ve hit my share of walls. A couple of careers, some interpersonal battles and what have you and without fail those walls had some pretty telling writing on them. And I’m not talking fine print. I think people in general have a harder time cutting losses than hanging on to the bitter end and I’m no exception. At least, I wasn’t…
Changing the flow of things takes effort. This isn’t just me talking either, it’s the first law of motion. (Oh yeah, we’re discussing physics here people. This blog isn’t for sissies.) Sometimes it seems so much easier just to ride the wave down the circling toilet bowl than to alter your course once you realize where you are headed. Yet, time and again once I’ve actually made the necessary changes it has been a relief and I’ve invariably asked myself why I didn’t do it sooner. Life lesson learned: Jump ship the minute you’ve jumped the shark. (That’s right, it’s sea-themed idiom day. Welcome aboard.)
In related news, I got my new jockey today, cover and all. It holds on like a champ; not a single nose dive onto the bathroom floor. This one is a real professional. So I’m back in the saddle with project 10,000 steps. So far I’ve gone 2,933 steps since the mail ran. In my defense, I needed a nap. Game on tomorrow, though. Overweight, here I come.
I like to throw things.