So yesterday I implored the general public to be generally nicer...and today it happened. So you'd think I'd be prepared, right?
In the words of my 3 year old, “No, nope, never.”
I was actually outside the preschool of said-3 year old when it happened. It was 20 minutes before closing and I had been driving for an hour, having left Old Boy's outpatient OT appointment right at rush hour.
Puggles and the Poodle were sleeping in the van.
Monster's preschool is in a large building in the back of an old mill complex. Since there is no view of the parking lot from his classroom and picking him up is often an unnecessarily long process fraught with odd rituals and delays, I am uncomfortable leaving the two little ones alone in the car.
Since I can't walk well and neither of them can walk at all, the only choice the three of us were left with was to use the double stroller. Luckily, our double stroller is light (enough). However, I was completely exhausted, so the thought of lifting anything more than a banana felt overwhelming. And I knew that getting the stroller out was only the first of several undesirable steps including probably waking two children, rushing in to pick up my anxious toddler (who hates being picked up when “the sun is sleeping”), then repeating the whole process to get back into the van and home.
I must have looked as tired and miserable as I felt at the moment that I opened the rear door of my mini van and pulled out the stroller because another mom a few cars over asked, “Do you need some help?”
I was so taken aback by the question that I didn't quite know what to say. I'm fairly sure I stared at her blankly for a moment.
--Am I dreaming? Is someone actually offering help?--
Of course, I
graciously accepted stammered something unintelligible before saying, “No, I'm ok.”
She gave me a look of complete non-belief.
“I just have to pick up my son,” I continued, as though the sling, brace, limp, and obvious exhaustion were commonplace... “My two little ones are sleeping and I have to bring them in with me. It just takes a little longer, that's all.” Oh lies, lies, lies.
“Oh, ok,” she said, probably half-relieved and entirely confused. “It's just that you look so--” Disabled? Exhausted? Forlorn? All three? “But as long as you're alright.”
“I'm alright,” I parroted. “Thank you, though.”
She drove off and I slowly got the little ones into the stroller, managing to keep the Poodle sleeping and Puggles hooked up to her feed. I hobbled in to get Monster, who ran happily to meet me, which temporarily eased the exhaustion. I gladly chatted with him and piled everyone back in the car in what I felt was a reasonable amount of time.
Still, I could have accepted this kind stranger's assistance. I could have asked her to stand with the kids for a minute or to run into the preschool for me, or something. For goodness sake, I'm a mom and beyond that, I'm human. If I had seen anyone in the shape I was in tonight, I would have offered to help them--and not just out of obligation, but because I'd genuinely want to do so. Instead, tonight I was just too me—shy and stubborn and independent and leery all rolled into one.
Jeez. No wonder people drop the door on me.