Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I experienced a parenting low last week. I keep telling myself that it could have happened to anyone, but as Jon put it so astutely after coming home and seeing the damage: “I cannot fathom how you possibly managed to do that…” It was possibly a unique event.

The gas light came on as I was driving to work in the morning. I could have gotten gas on my lunch break, but I didn’t because I couldn’t find a gas station that honored fuelperks. See, I just signed up for fuelperks at Winn Dixie, with a renewed enthusiasm to start shopping there again, and managed to rack up $0.50 a gallon in two weeks (we needed every single item, I promise). So I decided to wait to get gas on my way to daycare, where I knew I passed a fuelperks station…but turns out that one is on the wrong side of the road in the middle of private school traffic (all cars, no buses—one really long line on the street), so I made the executive decision that I could handle stopping for gas with the dink and baby K in the car on the way home.

Stay-at-home moms are probably appalled at my lack of ability to manage two children while performing a mindless routine task such as gas pumping. So let me first declare that I do actually accomplish many things (outside of childrearing) while solely supervising the duo. But this is the thing: when you’re away from your little ones all morning, the first hour you’re together in the afternoon is super-charged. They’re excited, needy, whiny, hungry, and both energetic after taking a nap (D) and deliriously wired after not taking a nap (K). In general, Keane cries the whole way home from daycare because he’s offended that I’m not holding him while traveling, and continues with the frustration, hanging on my leg, while I rush inside, get my breast milk in the fridge, fix Declan some juice, change clothes, go to the bathroom, get Declan his snack of the day, change 1-2 poopy diapers that happened while I was changing clothes, turn on Sesame Street, and…finally sit on the couch and let Keane nurse awhile until we’re all finally relaxed, comfortable, at home, together again. Aah.

But back to the gas station. Even though K was crying in the car, I pulled into the station advertising fuelperks near our house. Got out, frantically trying to read signage at the pump about how to claim your fuelperks. The dink immediately becomes impatient, begging me to get out of the car and “help,” and when I tell him no, he begins howling at peak decibel levels. I can’t figure out the stupid fuelperks thing, become incensed that the dink is acting so ridiculously, decide to abandon the situation completely, throw a hope into the universe that we won’t run out of gas on the way home, and jump back in the car, slam the door, as start scolding D about his behavior as I pull away from the pump…into one of those stupid, short, concrete little poles. But the noise level is so high in the car that I don’t hear it at first, scraping alongside my driver door. By the time the crunching noise registers in my head, the pole has moved on to the dink’s door.

Yes, I eventually realize that I am single-handedly inflicting $4,000 worth of damage on my vehicle with an immobile object. And in my frenzied attempt to drive away from the gosh-darn pole, I manage to reintroduce the object into the side of my car, moving back, then forward, then back…until finally three men come to rescue me from my absurdity. Two physically push the car away from the pole while the third hovers over me at the wheel, making sure I “Cut it hard, hard!” And alas, I was free.

My “Aah” moment was much delayed that day, needless to say. But the all-time low I experienced in the aftermath of the incident was really not about the car, it was more about my state of mind when dealing with the boys. It’s one thing for me to sometimes pull into the parking lot at work at 7 a.m. and not remember driving there only moments before, but it’s another thing all together for me to let my frustration at their cries render me blind to ordinary driving obstacles, when they’re right there in the car with me. A scary realization, and a lesson learned: fuelperks is not worth it. Damn you, Winn Dixie.

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