It was on this exact day in history when I realized that I needed to make a change. That the working-outside-the-home thing and I were not a good fit. That my poor already-meager brainpower reserves were overextended to the breaking point, making each and every venture into the outside world fraught with danger and the potential to snowball into a comedy of errors, or at least a story that could only be told with at least a dozen "...AND THEN!" transitions into the next circle of absent-minded hell. That being required to walk out the door remembering my keys AND my lunch AND the daycare bag AND the work I'd brought home the night before AND my shoes AND where I'd parked the car AND the baby, omg the baby was just too much. Something had to give.
Five years and a whole extra kid-and-a-half later, this remains probably one of the most self-aware things I have ever realized about myself. Five years later, and it still holds true that the simple decision to "get out of my pajamas" is usually the exact point where my day goes completely haywire.
For the record, I am only required to Leave The House once a week, other than the weekends, but that doesn't count because Jason is there so he can supervise. I mean, so it's a team effort. Yes. That. On Thursdays, however, I alone am responsible for getting everybody up and fed and dressed and out the door for Noah's weekly OT appointment.
Yesterday, AS YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE BEEN AWARE, was a Thursday. So up and out we went, and I was feeling pretty good, considering I'd managed to shower and dry my hair AND find one whole hat for one whole child, so I only had to remember to repeatedly yank up one coat hood over one head, while muttering old-lady threats about colds and catching death.
In fact, the only snafu was when I remembered that I'd never brought in my travel mug from my car, so I needed to run out and grab it and wash it out really quick so I could take my coffee with us. (NOTE: In my lifetime, I have personally purchased a good four dozen high-quality travel mugs, every single one of which is sitting in a desk drawer or under a car seat somewhere belong to my husband, so the travel mug featured in this story is my very last mug, a cheap promotional one that Tracey and I received when Mamapop won Best Pop Culture Blog from The Baltimore Sun. Tracey said I could keep our major award, which was very nice of her, except that it leaks all the time.)
ANYWAY. BUT THEN! I retrieved the mug from the car, only to realize there was a very gross, very frozen chunk of last Thursday's coffee still in the bottom. We were already running late, the car was already running (in a very FORESHADOWINGLY-like manner, by the way) and the kids were already buckled into their seats and there I was, waiting for some warm-ish water to flow from the sink faucet in the kitchen so I could melt a week-old expired coffee ice cube or at least break it out with a knife handle or something.
After a few desperate minutes, I put the mug in the microwave -- expressly disobeying the printed instructions on the bottom -- but then changed my mind after 10 seconds because you know, it would be SO LIKE ME to have to call Jason and tell him that I blew up the microwave for just this exact precise reason.
Finally, I had a nice, cleanish cup of new coffee and we were back in the car. Which is when I noticed that the gas light was on.
Just like it had been on last Thursday, when I had consciously decided to NOT get gas, because 1) the gas light comes on in my car almost laughably early, like with more than 30 miles to go (according to some display thing on the GPS screen that I can check to more accurately gauge my gas-tank recklessness), and 2) as long as I made it home and then never left the house again, odds were good that Jason would drive the car next and would stop for gas.
But we were all terribly sick last weekend, so nobody drove it anywhere, so I was now stuck knowing that I'd already cashed in my free early-gas-light trip and was probably close to fumes at this point. But we were late! Because...well, I'd spent all that time trying to melt that thing out of my travel mug.
We made it to OT on time, though I knew there was NO WAY we would make it home without filling up. But no matter, there were about three gas stations super-close to the therapist's office...I could stop and still get Noah home for a quick sandwich and catching the school bus in plenty of time.
Except...for some reason, instead of just -- I DON'T KNOW -- driving to one of the actual gas stations that I was already familiar with, I decided to head towards the one that the GPS said was the closest. Huh! I thought. I had no idea there was a Shell station right there! That's really convenient, actually!
And it really would have been convenient, if it existed. Which it didn't. It was an office building. So I changed course and headed towards ANOTHER gas station, right around the time the stupid computer screen thing started yelling at me like, SERIOUSLY, YOU HAVE NO GAS, WHY DON'T YOU STOP AT A GAS STATION. YOU WERE LIKE, FIVE FEET FROM ONE A MINUTE AGO, MORON.
Oh, and did I mention it was snowing? Because it was snowing. What started as flurries around the time we arrived for OT was now a full-on snow "event," as the local weather people like to call it anytime we start seeing ACCUMULATION! Of UP TO TWO INCHES! YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE IN YOUR CARS! YOU ARE PROBABLY ALSO ON FIRE!
So there was a crazy amount of traffic, as the lines on the road were already more or less covered up, and as you know, when the lines on the road get covered up, everybody forgets where the lines ever even were to begin with.
So I'm driving, all white-knuckled and over-caffeinated, with both kids in the car, and I can't even figure out which thing on the dashboard to freak out more over: the now below-E gas tank indicator or the clock, which says I have all of 15 minutes to get Noah home in time to catch the bus.
But I make it to the gas station. I pull up to the pump and reach into the diaper bag for my wallet.
No wallet, all of 10 cents in the coin tray, no secret $5 bill or credit card in the glove compartment, zero gas. Oh, and a cell phone with a red battery-charge indicator and yes, I have a car charger for my phone but no, I had no idea where it was at the moment.
I did the only thing I could think to do. I drove away from the gas station, back towards the snow-covered highway.
See? Brain. Thinking. Not good at it. Obviously I'd hit max capacity for problem solving sometime that morning, probably during the thing with the mold-flecked coffee ice cube.
I called Jason and told him to like, omg, pray or something. He -- in a typical lack of faith and/or confidence in my coping skills -- ordered me to get the fuck to a gas station and wait for him there. I mewed sadly about the bus! The bus! I have to get Noah home for the bus!
"Yes, which you will most certainly NOT be able to do while stranded on the side of the highway."
(Right around this time, I drove directly by my old office building. Or more like...coasted, as I tried to use the snow to my advantage instead of the gas pedal. I'm beginning to think that general business park area has it in for me, for real.)
10 minutes later, Jason called back. He was still looking for my wallet. I told him to look in my black purse, which I'd carried last week to a BlogHer Meet-Up in Bethesda, which NOW that I think about it, was the other last time I left the house by myself. (I drove Jason's car. So he could have the carseats in case of an emergency. Also, because I knew my car needed gas.) He said he already checked that bag, and it wasn't there.
So. To recap. Things Amy Was Currently Freaking Out About:
1) No gas. Still sitting in traffic trying to get somewhere close to Gas Station Number Three, AKA the one every single driver in the area seemed to be flocking to, because OH MY GOD SNOW SNOW SNOW PANIC ALSO I NEED BREAD.
2) The bus. Even though that was pretty much a done-and-missed deal by now and I was going to have to drive Noah directly to school, I was upset because I didn't call the bus depot ahead of time to tell them Noah wouldn't be on the bus like I'm supposed to and what if I get in trouble for that? Or the bus skids on the ice right outside our house and everybody dies and it was ALL MY FAULT because I DIDN'T CALL, or maybe the bus driver will just be generally kind of MAD AT ME from now on?
3) My wallet. Where the hell was it? Did I lose it? Drop it? Get pick-pocketed? What happens if I got into a fender bender or something without my license right now because the road is slippery and you know, there are all these IDIOTS out there who don't know how to drive in the snow? I may be an idiot who spends 15 minutes melting coffee backwash from promotional travel mugs before driving her children miles and miles away in the snow with no gas and no wallet, but AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I know how to drive in inclement weather. Kind of. Pretty much.
4) Phone battery. Seriously, where the fuck did my car charger go? Ohhhh, that's right, last week I met HeatherB for lunch and she texted to say she desperately needed an iPhone charger and all I could find in the house was the plug part but not the cable part so I yanked the cable from the car charger and then I guess I took the whole inside the house or something and see? All my problems in life stem from unsupervised outings.
5) Starvation. We were almost out of the only snack option I had on hand: A bag of cheese-pretzel sandwich things that I desperately needed to believe was counting as a nutritious, pre-school-day lunch for Noah.
I made it to the gas station. We sat there for awhile until Jason showed up with a credit card and I racked up the single-most-expensive fill-up in my entire car-owning life. I drove Noah directly to school and got there before his bus, because the snow delayed everything by a million billion minutes or so, and when he got back home I fed him the entire contents of our pantry, because the poor kid was starving and I am mother of the fucking year.
My wallet was totally in my black purse. Jason said, "Oh, THAT black purse." I have not yet asked him which black purse he thought I was talking about, because the only other black purse I own is a crystal-encrusted black satin evening clutch that is smaller than my actual wallet, and for the sake and safety of our family I need to keep on believing that that's NOT the purse he looked in, because ONE OF US HAS TO BE SMART, AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT.