Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Moods and Musings

I'm pretty good at avoiding contact. But I was distracted, watching the woman on the corner and wondering what she was doing there, considering that seeing a woman standing outside at this particular intersection was not an every day occurrence. As I sat in my van at the red light, mentally pondering whether she was out on a run (odd place for it), I was caught off guard. She glanced my way and our eyes locked. I noticed she looked distraught. She motioned for me to roll my window down.

"Do you have three dollars for the bus?"

I gave her my auto-pilot, stock answer, which is, generally speaking, the truth. "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash." As I put my window back up, I guiltily realized that I did indeed have a little cash, which I was planning on using to take Mathilda to lunch the next day. I was torn. Should I put my window back down and offer her the money? I considered the circumstances. I was stopped at a red light in the center lane, with cars all around me. The light was about to change. The woman looked neat and clean and healthy, which is to say she did not look like a psycho crack head. But she did look upset. Antsy for a fix maybe? I should perhaps add that I was in Detroit, although I'm not sure that should matter. I had Mattie in the back seat, and my first concern is always for the safety of my kids. Although,  I don't think she would have had much luck carjacking me, considering my position in traffic. Maybe she truly needed help. I watched as she spoke to a woman in the car closest to her, and my guilt lessened somewhat when I saw the other driver pass some cash through her open window. I was relieved that she had her bus fare, if she did indeed actually need it. If you live in or near a city, you know that asking for bus money is the oldest scam in the book.

The light turned green, and I drove off, wondering if the woman was okay and offering up a silent prayer on her behalf. Did her car break down? Did she get in a fight with her boyfriend and get dumped on the side of the road? Did her ride not show up to take her to work? My first gut instinct had been to ask if she needed help, to offer her a ride.

Why did I hesitate?

How to answer that question? I was raised on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of strangers, fear of untold dangers. Not only by those who raised me, but by the media, and countless books, movies, and television shows that captured my imagination in a not-so-great way. The truth is, I don't feel safe or comfortable offering help to a stranger on the side of the road, no matter how harmless that stranger appears to be, especially when it's just me and my 3-year old in the van. Maybe I never will. Am I being smart or paranoid? Obviously, there are people who help strangers on the side of the road all the time. They see a broken down car, pull over and offer to help change the tire or give a lift to the nearest gas station. What makes those people different from me?

I'm also always going. My perception is that I don't have time to be sidetracked, I don't have time for distractions, I don't have time. Period. But, as Tony Robbins says, we always have time for our MUSTS. So if I would have viewed the situation in a different light, "I MUST stop and ask this woman if she needs help!", then suddenly I would have time for this unexpected event. However, to be honest, I must admit that I was in no particular hurry. I had plenty of time to get where I was going, and I had no place to go after my one and only errand. But I'm in the mindset of having no time to spare, even when I do. It has become my automated MO. 

I want to become a person who has time and courage enough to help, even when my inner (false?) alarm bells are going off full force. But...I will continue to be cautious. So maybe helping people on the side of the road will never be my thing.


Seeing this woman on the side of the road, doubting myself, my motives and fears, came on the tails of an already somewhat tumultuous morning. It's a day of self-doubt, apparently.

Lucy has her first field trip of first grade today, to Westview Orchards. I was not chosen to be a class chaperone, but any parents not chosen were given the option of following the bus and walking along with the group at the orchard. I wasn't sure what to do. I hemmed, I hawed. Should I go, and be a witness to these sweet memories? In the end, I chose not to go. I chose to let Lucy go, to let her be on a field trip without me (a first). She was very excited about the field trip, and did not seem in the least bit bothered that I wasn't accompanying her. This is a big change from kindergarten, when she had a huge meltdown because she thought I wasn't going to be able to go on one of the field trips. I left her at school, buzzing in anticipation of her big day. She was fine, she was happy. I walked away wondering whether I made the right choice.


Obviously, there was no reason to second guess myself. Lucy is a bit of a mama's girl and needs to be gently nudged into independence. In this case she was ready and willing, so why hinder that? And yet...

By this point, I had cooled from my morning Bethany situation. But I was still feeling bad about it. Mornings are usually remarkably smooth sailing at my house. Today was different. Bethany was tired, whereas she is usually raring to go. She laid down on the couch after she got dressed, while she waited for me to make breakfast. In my haste to get out the door on time, I didn't even pause to consider that this was extremely unlike my eldest child. I remained ultra focused on the goal at hand: everyone to school on time! When there was some confusion about whether or not she had to get to school early for a meeting, and she did the typical tween thing: "I don't knoooooow what to doooooo mommmmm!", I did not consider that she was having an off morning, and thus scrape the bottom of my patience reserve - as I should have done. I  chastised her for not having her ducks in a row until the last minute, making it clear that I don't have TIME for her to go switching things around in the morning. The truth? I do want her to be more responsible and considerate in these matters, but what is going to happen if my kids have their first tardy of the year? Nothing, that's what. People get mixed up, people get dates and times confused. At least, I do. So maybe I should give my daughter a break when she's already having a tired, atypical day. Maybe I should consider not being so hard on her (although at any other moment I might doubt whether I am hard enough on her).

So. This is how my week is starting. With my mood matching the gloomy weather. And now...I'm ready for it to get better.

1 comment:

Tina Marie said...

HOly Cracker Jack! What is up with your page?!!