Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: On the outside looking in

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?


Kasey @ Mormon Mommy Writers said...

I have many terrifying Mommy moments. Once, I looked out the window to see my toddler wandering down the middle of the street. Her dad had gone out for a run and I thought I had locked the screen door, but I hadn't. She just wanted to find daddy.

Last week after church my toddler decided that instead of waiting for me to open her door, she would run around the back of the van to the other side. In the parking space right next to ours on that side a giant truck was backing up. I ran after her and scooped her out of the way just before the tire rolled right over where she'd been standing.

Another time I pushed the button to close the automatic door on the minivan. My daughter got caught on something and the door was closing on her and I couldn't turn it off in time- she was screaming, I was screaming, and it was then that we learned that the door has a sensor that won't let it close if something is in the way, thank goodness.

The worst was when I got home one day and found my preschooler standing in our driveway crying. I had come home about 5 minutes late and my friend who had picked him up from preschool had forgotten to make sure he got in okay- she had just dropped him and left without realizing I wasn't home yet. That was a whole experience in forgiveness for me, let me tell you.

Why must being a mom be so terrifying?? Thanks for this post- I can only imagine how awful that must have been for you, but it also does make for a good metaphor on life. :-)

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

This actually made me break out in a sweat.

You're a great mommy and had every reason to stress out. Cause seriously? What would you have done if she'd fallen?

Angela Cothran said...

I feel like my entire life is waiting it out! Maybe God is trying to teach me patience. I don't like it :)

Emily R. King said...

I would have been a wreck if that had happened to me. How awful! You handled yourself very well. Those first mommy lessons are tough, but only on us. The kiddos usually survive. : )

Brittany said...

Oh, I have so many terrifying Mommy moments that I could share, but won't because most of them are a direct result of my own laziness. What kind of parent doesn't even attempt to baby proof her own home? Um, me. This is a great post! (and my oldest spoke in full sentences at 18 months, so I totally believe you).

Jessie Humphries said...

I thought you were going to say you threw yourself threw the glass window to save her! (Like my husband kicked down the door three weeks ago). You did the right thing for sure. And you don't have to get the window replaced :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

I've been in that exact situation! Terrifying to say the least!

Have a great uneventful weekend!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Wow! That was an intense story! I'm glad it worked out fine in the end.

My two year old and I got separated in Sam's Club. They activated Code Adam, but they had me stand at the front doors, making sure no one left with her while they searched. She was so little, and it took them SO LONG to find her. And I had to stand there the whole time, doing NOTHING.

April said...

Maggie, these are fun! This very closely resembles when I locked our first daughter in the (running) car at the gas station in the pre-cell phone era. I panicked the entire time and made a fool of myself standing outside the car baby talking to my baby until Dave could get there from work. :)