So, I ran out of gas the other day. Something I've done maybe one other time in my life. Although I do let the red line hover dangerously around the "E," and coast into the gas station on nothing but fumes at times, I never ACTUALLY run out of gas. Until the other day. I can't even tell you how it happened. I knew I needed gas, because I have a little light AND even actual words on a little screen on the dashboard that tell me I am LOW ON FUEL. Why I didn't go to the gas station earlier is a mystery even to me. I was just so busy running errands and didn't really think about how many miles I had traveled. I was on my way to pick up #2 son from preschool with #1 son in the back. I was thinking to myself that I needed gas and would get some after the preschool pickup. Right about the, the car starts going, "putt, putt, putt..." and I have just about enough time to pull over to the side of the road before it stops. Damn.
Thankfully, DH was available to do the preschool run, and I was able to convince him to make the call to the preschool so that I didn't have to feel the shame of telling them I could not retrieve my child at the appointed time. All I had to do was call the roadside assistance service and wait. And wait some more. #1 son was a trouper--he was a little worried, but I did my best to reassure him and then we played games until the nice man with the gas can arrived. And eventually we all made it home safely, and I was a grateful mommy for that.
But, as most experiences do, this one got me thinking. There are other times in our lives when we run out of gas in a more figurative sense--we run out of energy, we get sick, two feet of snow fall (as they did this weekend in my hometown), or any number of other events occur that force us to stop what we would normally be doing and pay attention to what is happening right now, in this very moment. Everything else has to be set aside to deal with the current crisis.
Although these events can be frustrating because they keep us from other things we need or want to do, they have value of their own. They are the universe's way of telling us that we NEED to slow down, to take a break. These events are essentially time-outs for adults. It's nature's way of saying, it's ok--sit down and take a breath. Take a nap even. It's what we need even if we don't know it yet. And if I am really, truly paying attention, I'll give myself permission to take a break BEFORE I run out of gas next time. I decided I'd much rather contemplate my life from the safety of my home than from a stalled car on the side of the road. So for me and the other moms out there who feel overwhelmed, let's give ourselves a break. When we feel ourselves becoming harried and overwhelmed, let's take the time to sit down and take a breath. Or take a nap even. It's ok. Really, it is.