Occasionally I just have to bust out with the honesty here and today is one of those occasions. I have been having trouble breathing (again) and it's likely from the tension I'm carrying in my shoulders, neck, and face. I am going to share my story here for the purposes of releasing some of that tension, enjoying your sympathy, and hopefully helping someone avoid the situation I found myself in (not that I'm sure I could have done anything much to prevent it).
Two weeks ago we had been out all evening because we needed to attend the memorial service for a friend's father. Afterwards, we went to do some shopping and we were not home until relatively late. The baby had mostly slept in the car the entire time we were gone so he was wide awake that night too. The two older kids were sleeping in their beds but the Captain and I were watching television and hanging out with the little man. Suddenly, out of no where, we have flashlights in our windows and there is a knock on our door. Two police officers. Coming to investigate a call that they'd received (on the Crime Stoppers hotline at that) about how I said on facebook that I was going to hurt myself or my children.
The truth was that I had been having some pretty detailed conversations on facebook about some issues I was having with my daughter. Of course I said nothing like what was reported but all I can figure is that someone was making outlandish claims based upon that thread. Or they were jealous because that week my family had been featured in the newspaper. Or perhaps they just wanted to cause drama and watch me slowly erase myself from the internet. Because that is what I did. I deleted nearly everyone from my facebook account and I also buckled down on all of my privacy settings and deleted a lot of personal information as well. And of course now I'm only making "vanilla" posts on facebook (as my husband calls them).
There has been a lot of crap that has come from this situation. But I've also had several people reach out to me in kindness and tell me how sorry they have been that this happened to my family. Sure, it could have been a lot worse but it was still extremely stressful. I hope that this message reaches someone who needs it. Perhaps you have been "friends" with just anyone online and you air your dirty laundry for just any of these so-called "friends" to read. Maybe you haven't been as cautious as you should have been. I don't know. But if this strikes a cord with you, go ahead and listen because for some reason I felt that I really needed to share this message here for my readers.
So as if all of this wasn't stressful enough, on Sunday, I had an accident. My first real car accident. I had taken the kids to a party that I didn't want to attend in the first place and then as we were driving home (finally because I was held up repeatedly at this party) my wind shield wipers were all screwed up and it was pouring down rain. We were out in a rural area. I was going around a very sharp curve and my breaks just wouldn't work. I slammed into the side of a big red truck. Long story short, my vehicle suffered way more damage than their vehicle did. At first the girl(lady? no concept of her age) was angry at first but I seemed to diffuse her anger by remaining calm and looking her in the eye. Everyone was fine. I felt (and still feel) like a total ninny though I realize that these things happen. Yet more stress.
Today was a stressful day. Nothing like having the cops show up or having a car accident but stressful. I drove all of the way to Brentwood so that the kids could see a performance by Junie B. Jones who is on "Tour". The performance was taking place inside of Barnes and Noble so of course I, unlike every other better mother in the midstate, had no idea that it was going to be such a big deal. So I showed up five minutes before it started and I was too late. They couldn't help get my children into the area where all of the kids were gathered to watch the show. I asked. I was so angry. I think I even told the kids that had they not been acting bratty before we left (there was a lot of bossing and hitting involved... they were acting pretty ridiculous) then maybe we could have left earlier and been there in time to watch the show. I swear, I have been to our Barnes and Noble for so many things before and never has there been any gigantic crowds or ordeals before. Some woman who was not wearing any name tags or uniforms came up to us, took my kids' hands, and said that she could take them up to where the children were seated, vaguely said "Do you want me to take them up there for you?" and started to walk away with them. I said firmly, "No I do not". And she laughed at me. Can you believe that? In a huge crowd of people I'm going to let a stranger walk off with my children. Sure. That's going to happen.
We left. Which sucked because I was looking forward to meeting up with friends.
We drove over to Toys R Us and coveted the new "iCarly" merchandise and then we went over to Whole Foods for lunch and a little shopping. By the time we'd eaten our lunch in their dining area and my children had been patted on the head by yet another odd and random stranger who insisted that her 17 year old was "acting really bad right now" but that every day before school she'd place her hands on the heads of six children and claim "You have the mind of God" and now they are all geniuses (so I should pray over them daily because it works... "OKAY" I said to her as I walked away without making eye contact), the kids were just absolutely on their worst behavior. D wouldn't stay in the shopping cart. He just simply wouldn't sit down. The other two were fighting, touching everything, grabbing lots and lots of samples with coin hands (instead of using the grabbers and instead of just taking one sample) and plain old being kids who needed to get outside and romp around. Understandable. I know that. But I just needed to get some groceries. I did feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that my husband usually does all of the shopping because as much as I love Whole Foods (and I REALLY love Whole Foods) today it was a place that did not bring me the usual relaxation and comfort and happiness. No, today I am pretty sure they took a security photo of me and now that photo has been placed next to every register and they are supposed to, um, I dunno, call Crime Stoppers if they see me in there again? I stood in line to get two slices of pizza to accompany our packed lunch (so that we weren't just loitering) and then I stood in the sandwich line for probably about five minutes before I realized that it was, indeed, the sandwich line and that instead I might want to move over to, um, maybe the register? At the register, I told the cashier that I'd been waiting to check out over there in that slow moving sandwich line for a good five minutes. And that considering how little brain function I have these days I was lucky that I'd not ended up in a line for samples. The cashier laughed, looked me in the eyes and said, "You're funny". That's always a good thing. Being told you are funny. At least for me. I do think that after today's trip to Whole Foods where I said something to the effect of "Kids, how is it that a shopping trip has ended up being more stressful than the wreck we had the other day?" and my six year old laid down in the middle of the floor as an attempt to keep his baby brother from crawling out of the front door as I paid for the groceries, it's probably a good idea to have the Captain go in alone when he tries to convince them to stock Ridiculous Chocolate. What do you think?
There have been some positive things that have come out of these stressful circumstances. For instance, I'm no longer reading facebook all day long trying to "keep up" with everyone. It's also made me realize that maybe we need to go ahead and join that homeschoolers legal organization in case we ever have a situation like this one again. Also, I was so thankful for the kind, loving, patient, and understanding way that my husband has responded to the accident. Not one bit of criticism or anger. What has he said about it? "These things happen. That's why they are called accidents". "I'm just glad you aren't hurt". I'm a lucky girl.
And I feel like I can breathe a little better after, quite literally, getting that stuff off my chest.