Sunday, February 17, 2008

Zero Miles to Empty

The other day I was rushing around -- as usual -- up early, dress myself and three kiddos, pack lunches/snacks, remember coats, shoes and backpacks, spend 10 minutes trying to convince them to get in their seats and get buckled, drop off Lillie and Harlan at their school down the street from our house, then drive the 15 miles in traffic to Sophie's school ... and if I get to her school at or after 8:30, she's tardy and the teacher has to come down and get her in the lobby, which is traumatic for both of us. Of course -- as usual -- Wes had gone to school before we even woke up, so I was flying solo.

It was Valentine's Day, and Sophie's class was having a party for which I was assigned to bring "pink juice," which was sitting 15 miles away on my kitchen counter. I dropped off Sophie in her classroom, then I got in my car, drove to the nearest grocery store, obtained MORE pink juice, dropped it off at the school, and commenced my drive back home. I remembered on the way home that my gas was getting low-ish, so I pushed the button to show how many miles were left in the tank of gas (yes the car is new and has a few fancies) ... and much to my surprise, it said, "0 Miles to Empty." Luckily, I was very close to a gas station, and I made it there all right. But in the meantime, I freaked out. I thought about how scary it was to have ZERO miles left, and of course, I planned what I would do if the car died before reaching the gas station.

After getting gas, I had to hurry to make it to my other kids' school in time to attend their parties. Immediately after leaving the parties, we had other places to rush to, errands to run, trying to clean a little at least, picking up Sophie, getting pizza for dinner, giving them a bath and bedtime alone ... because Wes was on call and stayed at the hospital all that night ... and planning for the next day, when Lillie and Harlan would have their big-deal Winter Program at school, making sure they had the right clothes clean for the program, taking a few minutes to reply to a few emails, folding clothes, washing more, loading the dishwasher, sorting the kids' artwork, and finally dragging my weary self to bed around midnight.

Since that day (a typical day for me), I have thought more about the message from my car, and I decided that one day, far from now, when I write my memoirs, the title of this chapter of my life will be "Zero Miles to Empty." It wraps up everything perfectly: Running out of money, out of time, out of energy, out of patience. But it will be okay. I know that, just like the other day when I made it to the gas station just in time, I'll get to the light at the end of the tunnel just in time for some relief ... and to fuel up for the next adventure.