“Think there’s something wrong with our car. There’s a dark yellow cartoon that keeps popping up on the dashboard. Lookin’ like a car with squigglies around it. Am I okay to keep driving today?”
“That just means the car is swerving,” explained Kevin.
“Oh, aight then. Not sure what it’s telling me to do because I’mma keep swervin’ in this slurpee snow globe.”
A couple days ago, we had another snowstorm. I should have kept an accurate count as to what number storm this is in the past two months or even in 2014 thus far. Could these frequent snowstorms be attributed to the polar vortex?
We got more than 8 inches here in NYC and it brought us a gorgeous winter wonderland. Soft, fluffy snow and trees with powder-white branches, encased in an icy shell, looking nearly edible. A party planner would drool over this backdrop.
Snowbanks are so high by the curb that I have to lift my boys over them while I am forced to step knee-deep right into them. A groundskeeper in our co-op asked me, “Aren’t you cold?” and I realized I hadn’t even zipped up my jacket as there was too much carrying of gear and bundling up of the little ones, plus random Micah artwork I was holding.
The aftermath of the winter wonderland is hitting us hard today. We had more snow AND freezing rain overnight AGAIN so the streets are even slushier and that cartoon on my dashboard is showing up more frequently.
“YOU SWERVIN’, LADY.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
People are annoyed by this mess yet I’m starting to wonder if I’ve Turned.
This October will mark my 9th year living in NYC. Though I was raised in LA and schooled in both LA and the Bay Area, I have never had the experience of being a married woman or a mama in Cali. I’m curious what ajummamahood in my home state would be like.
Would I strangely miss all this weather drama if we were to relocate to sunny SoCal? Could I have Turned so much that everyday temps in the 70s could possibly…bore me? The many months of brutal cold and humid summers are vexing, no doubt, but I wonder if this has become my New Normal so much so that I would twitch in a land where I don’t have to check the weather updates constantly? I’m sure a part of me would actually miss Mother Nature’s mood swings.
This week has been an unexpected move towards deliberate gratitude. It had become too easy to audibly groan with the slush and lack of sun all around – being forced to stay home and surrounded by drudgery – but strangely, I’ve also experienced unexpected pick-me-ups in the midst of these bad weather days.
For instance, I’ve been getting so blessed with good parking, better than in good weather. I rolled up to Bible Study at a friend’s place and was able to park in a spot that someone had JUST dug his car out of, leaving a perfectly cleared spot for my car, like a small coffin in the snow. It was too good to be true. I asked around, “Is this a legit parking spot!? Or is there a fire hydrant hidden away in the snowbank?” The other dude digging his car out of the snow said, “Nope, you’re good! You can park there.”
This has been happening a lot this week. Parking blessings. A BIG DEAL in these parts. Truly unexpected.
Last night, Micah and I were returning from Long Island when I got distracted for one second. (I’m driving more than usual during this slushy mess for some reason). I rely 100% on GPS so I actually have no clue where I am without the GPS lady’s voice directing me. Either she didn’t direct me early enough, I just didn’t hear her over Micah’s Music for Aardvarks CD, or I ended up looking at the map that goes along with the GPS voice and I missed the highway I was supposed to continue on.
I found myself driving on an unfamiliar part of the highway and noticed a tollbooth and a beautifully lit bridge coming up.
I called Kevin on speakerphone. “Yeahhh, so I’m on this beautiful bridge. It has a gross name: Throgs Neck Bridge. No possible U-turn before a tollbooth right?”
“What?! Jihee-yah, how did you end up over there? No possible U-turn.”
“Well, we not gonna be home for a good long while then. Wish me luck.”
Micah chimes in, “Mommy, we lost? You don’t know where we going?”
Siighhhhh….”I’m so sorry, Micah. Mommy made a mistake and yes, we are lost but we will get home soon. We are going to turn off your music so Mommy can CONCENTRATE and listen to the GPS better, OK?”
“OK, Mommy. Watch the road!”
There on that bridge, I wanted to practice mindfulness and a deliberate gratitude. “Mindfulness” and “gratitude” have been such buzzwords in recent years that I may have rebelled against them at times, but they are so necessary in my life right now, especially to combat the word that I keep meditating on unhealthily instead: DRUDGERY.
The drudgery of picking up the toys and shoes and winter hats and wiping down chairs and picking up dropped sippy cups leaking milk onto the rug and playmats. Begging the kids to eat, now Ellis, too, since he doesn’t feast the way he used to. Repeating myself constantly.
Gratitude hasn’t been coming to me all that naturally, the way it used to my very first year of mamahood where even the drudgery was connected to the awe and wonder of having my first baby. Lately, I’d been feeling like so much was a dang bother, like simply leaving the house with kids, making sure they aren’t overheating or exposed to the elements. And our brief trips out, mostly for school dropoff or pickup, consisted mostly of rushing back in with our winter gear to avoid the chill of the polar vortex or the slush and slip n slide of snowstorm #7.
My NATURAL inclination was to beat myself into a bloody pulp for getting lost driving a route I’ve done a few times now (though never in the dark).
“What the hell is wrong with you? How you gonna get lost, even with the GPS and now you have to spend money going thru a tollbooth you have no business being anywhere near! Oh wait, you need to make a U-turn right past that tollbooth at the next exit so that means you gotta pay again? Way to go, blowing $15 on toll after saying we must save more money this year!”
But a small miracle occurred in my inner dialogue. I didn’t follow the same mental route I usually take. (Perhaps to match the usual route I didn’t take going home?).
I opened the window a smidge to get some fresh air up into my nostrils, thanked Micah for being so helpful and patient (and even encouraging), tried to enjoy the spontaneous excursion via bridge and got us home after about a 40 minute delay.
As we drove to our parking spot, Micah cheered, “Mommy! This is our home! We not lost any more.”
When I walked in the door, Kevin looked apprehensively at me. He knows how badly I beat myself up when I make mistakes. Something I definitely need to work on as it has wreaked havoc on me for years now.
He was surprised when I smiled and said, “Yeah, so I’m not gonna throw a fit. Totally was gonna go that route but I am so tired and thankfully, we only got lost. No accident. And hey, you know I love a beautiful bridge. Maybe not worth $15 for a drive-by but oh well, memories.”
“I still dunno how you ended up on that highway but hey, stuff happens.” I could tell he wants to crack up about my clumsy navigating even with the Godsend of an iPhone GPS but he wouldn’t dare just in case I decided to beat myself up after all.
“And if it makes you feel ANY better, we do have an EZ Pass so we’re going to be charged less than that. Wow, I have to say I’m proud of you for being able to let it go. We all make mistakes.”
Huh, EZ Pass. I like the sound of that for beyond saving money at tollbooths. Next time I sweat the small stuff, I’m going to give myself an “EZ Pass” out of it, as long as I learn my lesson and do better the next time I’m in a similar situation. Such a small step but it was progress for someone who self-flagellates like it’s her job. It was amazing to not go down the same treacherous path and salvage what remained of the evening. Thankful for the bad weather to make me check myself.
Progress, Not Perfection.