Life Comes at You Fast

Eventually all the pieces will fall into place, until then – laugh at the confusion, live for the moment and know that everything happens for a reason.

Remember the Nationwide ad campaign, Life Comes Fast?    Guy driving down the street, out of nowhere a wrecking ball smashes his car?  Life changes fast, I certainly get that now.  And I certainly wasn’t prepared for the wrecking ball that hit me this week – back to school.

Certainly I knew it was coming, and certainly I prepared as best I could for it.  Getting supplies and backpacks packed and haircuts and figuring out schedules and who will get the kids after school and get them to baseball and football and what happens if it’s raining and omg what the hell will I do if/when the kids get sick (that’s easy they are NEVER allowed to get sick, I’m secretly spiking their orange juice with massive doses of Airbourne every morning.)

Thought I had a handle on all of this, but I really only had a dad’s handle on it, not a primary caregiver (aka, military precision planner) perspective – someone who dots the i’s and crosses the t’s and actually makes things happen.  Thank god I’ve got an army of insurance agents (Insurance Angels?) looking out for me, steering the wrecking balls clear for now.  A flurry of phone calls and texts descended over the weekend and got me back on track for things that just magically happened in the past – money on the kids lunch accounts, understanding this new 5-day schedule (6 day at the junior high – or is that the other way around?), bringing those gym shorts and calculators we got last fall to school, and even knowing what time I actually have to have them there.  I think I’m in good hands (another insurance tag line pun, get it?) and I feel like I’ve got a whole army of Progressive Flo’s out there (alright that’s the last insurance pun, I promise!)  But seriously, thank you all, and please keep it up!!! 

But all this logical preparation couldn’t stop the emotional wrecking balls.  The emergency contact cards are probably bubbled with tear stains – that was just a major bombshell, crossing off Debbie’s name.  And Saturday night, cleaning out their backpacks, I found a handwritten note from Deb to one of the boys…lightning bolt thru the heart.

And how do the boys feel?  What is going through their heads?  Are they afraid everyone is whispering about them because “his mom died”, a completely normal thing for kids to talk about but the last thing a grade schooler wants to hear?  What happens on Muffins with Mom day?  What will they feel when everyone else is making Mother’s Day cards?  And where is mom’s smiling, comforting face, like a lighthouse in the stormy sea of the after school pick-up madness, after they’ve had a bad day? 

All I can do is my best.  I’m sure my little guys’ lunch won’t be as good, but there’s a special treat right under his three tiny carrots (at least two of which will probably come home with him.)  Some tic tacs in their packs, you know, for when the girls talk to him and he realizes he didn’t brush his teeth despite me telling him three times to do so.

So I release them into the stream of school and friends and new classes and new faces and all the challenges of growing up.  I so don’t envy them, but I so hope and pray I’ve equipped them the best I could to navigate their own wrecking balls, especially the emotional ones.  It feels overwhelming…

But I’ve got lots of help, and my Insurance Angels are everywhere this morning.  The boys’ teachers and administrators all know of the situation and sincerely pledge their help and understanding, and I know they will keep their watchful, expert eyes on them.  T’s friend’s parents help me find his room after my little guy ditches me like a hot potato as soon as he spots his friends.  And the boys’ friends will certainly provide a level of comfort and normalcy to them that I simply cannot.

And it’s these limits to what I can do that drain me on the walk home, and the day feels dark.  I want too much to be there to take care of them when they need it – but I know that I won’t always be, that I will be at work and they will be coming home with someone other than mom.  I’m feeling incredibly alone and a thousand miles from Holiday Park on the walk home.

But I’m not alone, and neither are my boys.  I run into a friend, and I realize we all go through trying times – that’s life.  We are all given crosses, but we are not alone, and things have a way of working out.  You just gotta let go, trust in God, trust in the universe, trust in the people around us, the angels in our midst – things will work out.  This is a hard lesson for me – I’ve tried so hard for so many years to plan and maintain some “control” in my life.  I can hear the gods laughing at me now, loud and clear – maybe it’s time to listen this friend’s advice.

And suddenly I realize that it is just a beautiful morning; the sunshine and blue sky is intensely in focus, the air is crisp, my heart is lighter, and angels are everywhere…

PS – Heartfelt apologies to all you moms or dads out there who handle these back-to-school duties; I get it now, it IS a tough emotional time.


2 thoughts on “Life Comes at You Fast

  1. I didn’t think about all this. I thought it might be easier on you with the boys being back at school – Not as much planning during the day. I never even thought of them getting sick or the emergency contacts, etc. I’m so sorry, Joe. You guys will all make it though. How did mom do it with 4 of us???? I’m so happy to hear so many people are helping with the school situation. It makes me feel better you have such a strong support system there.

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