We had a really awesome feature in our first home. It wasn't a four-car garage. It wasn't a master suite. No. It was two half-laundry rooms.
Wow! you say? Let me explain.
Because of electrical/plumbing/gas features of which I don't understand, our washing machine had to be in the basement and our dryer had to be in the garage. This meant lugging dirty clothes from the bedrooms down the dangerously narrow stairs; then lugging wet clothes up the stairs and into the unheated garage; then lugging dry clothes into the house to be folded and redistributed in bedrooms.
It was fun.
But this special home feature isn't the point of this post. So, on with the story.
One day my 18-month old toddled around the kitchen while I went downstairs to bring up the laundry. I carefully opened and closed the stair gate when I went down. I gathered the clothes, came up and headed to the garage to put them in the dryer. I shut the door behind me to keep little hands out of the dirty garage and loaded the dryer. Check.
But my stomach leaped into my throat when I tried the doorknob and realized I had locked it. I panicked. I tore through the garage but found our hide-a-key was no longer hidden. I let myself out of the garage and around to the front and back doors but they were both locked. I went back to the garage and opened the tiny cat door which we had never used. With all my contortionist maneuvers I could not reach the lock on the inside.
It was no use. I was locked out.
And my daughter was locked in.
She toddled over to me, squatted down, and tilted her cute little chubby cheeks to see through the tiny door. Now, there are two things you should know about our oldest daughter. First off she spoke full sentences at 18 months. I promise. (I'll tell you the second thing in a minute. You know, for suspense building and stuff.)
"Mommy come in!"
"Mommy come in!!!"
"Mommy! Come! In!!!!!"
But no matter how smart she was, I couldn't get her to understand what I meant by "Please turn that little line on the doorknob for Mommy."
She cried for a minute but then a toy distracted her and she left goof-ball Mommy peering through the cat door. I glanced across the kitchen and to my horror discovered two things. In my rush to get to the dryer I had accidentally left the stair gate open. And secondly, the "toy" that distracted her was the lit--and not entirely stable--Christmas tree.
That's when I started crying.
Oh yeah, the second thing I should tell you is that although our daughter could speak full sentences, she didn't walk until 16 months. So, her current walk was more of a drunken sailor act then a steady gait. And stairs had not yet even been tried. The narrow flight suddenly resembled a twelve foot drop onto iron spikes. I ran outside in my socks and to the front picture window. With tears streaming down my face I watched our baby with her new found independence and prayed she'd stay safe in the pit of danger I had left her in.
I glanced up and down the road and back into the window and made a choice. I took off running full speed to the neighbor's house. No one answered. I raced to the next house and pounded on the door. An interesting fellow and 15 cats greeted me and let me use his cell phone to call my husband. Of course he didn't answer.
I used the neighbor's phone book to look up Dan's office phone number and called the secretary. This entire thing probably only took minutes, but I felt like I was sitting on a ticking time bomb. The office lady said she'd get a hold of Dan in the field and let him know.
I raced home and to the window again to see our little girl playing with the balls on the Christmas tree. I envisioned it falling down on her, or shocking her, or something worse. I stood there crying as the longest half hour of my life slowly ticked by. There were so many times I considered running back and calling the police instead of waiting for Dan. But I was too afraid to leave her again.
And then finally the rumble of diesel engine came down the street and I prayed it was a work truck. It was. Dan unlocked the door and I rushed in to our baby--who had remained perfectly safe--and held her tight.
This was one of my scariest Mommy moments ever.
Now, if I look at it objectively, I realize that I would probably freak out a lot less if it were to happen these days. I was a very high strung and try-to-be-perfect first time mother. But still, even now, I wouldn't like to go through it again. I certainly wouldn't want my baby to.
But what is it that made the situation so terrifying? The fact that I was on the outside looking in and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
How often does that happen in life?
Some people face years of infertility. Others experience unemployment for extended periods of time. Sometimes depression makes you feel like there is nothing you can do to change your life.
And after you've done all that you can, the only thing left to do is Wait. It. Out.
And man isn't waiting hard? In these moments I would do well to remember Psalms 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."
What obstacle has left you feeling completely helpless? Or do you have your own terrifying Mommy moment to share?