In four short days, I will drop all three kids off at various daycares and head back to work following my ten week maternity leave. This is not a blog post about how badly I long to be a stay-at-home mom and it is not a post about how much I love my job. No, this is a post about humility, pride, and grace. As I plan for my return, I can’t help but feel my face flush with embarrassment. (If this were Wayne’s World, we’d now be waving our fingers in the air, saying “do do do, do do do…”, and signaling a flashback.)
My last Monday of work before having the baby, began like many others. I woke up physically miserable, emotionally drained, and mentally absent. I somehow trudged through our morning routine of screaming at everyone that we’d slept in and were behind schedule, cleaning Jack’s yogurt out of his hair, reminding Logan that we never watch tv in the morning despite his daily amnesia on this rule, and hollering the day’s schedule to Trey while I scrubbed my hair. We raced out the door and I dropped both boys off at the appropriate locations. I decided to meander rather than going straight to work and justified a donut treat because I was, after all, creating a human being. I sat in the parking lot adjacent to the donut shop eating my treat and wishing I didn’t have to drag my pregnant self into work. When I got to work, most of the parking spaces were occupied. This was my punishment for being tardy. Due to the cursed jeep being in the shop…again…I was driving Trey’s beast of a truck. I typically avoid pulling into tight spaces because his truck is wide and difficult. However, this morning my options were to pull into a slightly tight spot or park elsewhere and have to waddle further. I pulled into the spot and was fairly proud to have done so. In my memory, there was an empty spot next to me when I pulled in, but once the NPR story I was listening to ended, there was a little car next to me. I turned off the car and opened the truck door. Well, I tried to open the door. The space between the car to my left and the truck door was not enough to allow my large body and pregnant belly to get out of the door. No worries, I’m a problem solver. I laughed to myself and began scooting my body across the truck seats to let myself out the passenger side door. Well, I tried to open the passenger side door. Again, I was too close to the van next to me to get out. No worries, I’m a problem solver. I decided to pull out of the spot and park on the other side of the lot. Well…I turned the key…AND NOTHING HAPPENED!? The truck was dead. Let us recap. I can’t open the driver’s side door. I can’t open the passenger side door. I can’t pull out of the spot. Doesn’t this remind you of the children’s chant and book, “Bear Hunt”? “Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Gotta go through it.”
Begrudgingly, I called Trey.
“Trey, I’m trapped in the truck.”
“I’m trapped in the truck. I pulled into a space. You’d be proud of how straight I’m parked in the space! However, I’m too close to the other cars and can’t get out. The truck is now dead and I am trapped.”
(I’ll let your imagination fill in his response. It isn’t quite appropriate for this setting.)
Trey had been dropped off at the auto shop and was waiting for the jeep to be repaired. He patiently (creative licenses are being taken) informed me that I’d need to wait for an hour or so for him to be able to come get me. I remember wishing I had another donut.
I then called my boss to let her know that while I was at work, I wasn’t being very productive. Once I assured her that I was fine and promised I wouldn’t go into labor, we laughed. She then came out of the building with another administrator to check on me. Again, I assured them that I was fine, promised that my water hadn’t broken, and the three of us laughed some more. The word began to spread that pregnant Lauren was trapped in her car and people began to gather. I suddenly empathized with animals at the zoo. One coworker came rushing out of the building because she heard that I was in labor. Nope…just simply in emotional distress. After what seemed like 3 hours (probably only 20-30 minutes) 400 people (20 were actually counted) were standing outside of my vehicle to provide emotional support (or laugh at my newest catastrophe). The CEO and the CFO of the agency that employs me (although I suspect they may question my ability to carry on basic duties at this point) joined the crowd and asked me to pop the truck hood. They were able to spot a disconnected battery cable and the truck started right up. At that same time, another person had located the owner of the car to my left. The car moved over and I could then get out. Again, I assured everyone I was fine, that I wasn’t in labor, and laughed. I waddled into the building and into my office, where I closed the door and spent significant time considering hiding under my desk for the rest of the day. I finally decided that since there was a significant chance that I’d get stuck underneath my desk and would again draw a crowd, I decided to sit in my chair and count minutes until maternity leave.
Later that week, I had my annual employment review and much to my surprise, I maintained my job without any productivity goals related to my being a goober. I have decided that being trapped in the parking lot has set my personal bar low. My postpartum fatigue and “parent of three children-related mental fog” will be overlooked because “at least I’m not trapped in the truck today?” I’ll look like a model employee…until the next incident. Sigh…