Friday, October 18, 2013

What NOT to Ask a Mom

A couple of weeks ago, the code popped up on my van letting me know that my oil life is at 15%. This digital display is super convenient for busy moms who don't have time to keep track of this sort of thing. I got pretty darn sick and kind of forgot about it until I was back to driving, by which point the van was telling me I was at 10% oil life. This was fine, it just meant that it was time to schedule the appointment. I waited until I had some quiet time when Logan was at preschool so that I could make an un-interrupted phone call. Fortunately, I was able to get it in this morning, which was perfect since I had realized that it was one of the few mornings that we weren't already booked.

There were other codes that had popped up on the dashboard display, too, so I knew we were going to be there for a while as they took care of some other maintenance stuff (which I promptly forgot the specifics of just so long as I knew two things: How much? and How long?). I wasn't too concerned, though. He's been awesome at the dealership in the past. (I'm specifically thinking of the loooong appointment last December when after all the other fixes were found and corrected, ended up being a $1400 oil change!)

Just in case it turned out to be a lengthy appointment, I tried to be extra prepared. I had packed three snacks for Logan plus a coloring book and crayons. And there were plenty of toys there to keep him entertained. (I just tried to read my book and not think about how visibly dirty most of them were! Really, I am not a germ-a-phobe. I never used one of those fancy pants shopping cart covers that lots of moms have, and I don't even bother with the wipes for the shopping cart because I am more concerned about the chemicals in them than the germs that the kids might be exposed to. It just bugged me that the toys were so filthy looking.)

Then, an hour and 15 minutes into this morning's oil change (plus whatever), the service technician comes to me and asks, "How are we doing?" My first thought was, Uh oh, what's wrong? This is one of those rhetorical questions that I absolutely hate, because I am always so tempted to give an honest answer, when really I know that is not what the other person is looking for.

I looked around at the toys strewn everywhere in their play area and thought, Well, he seems happy. As you can see he has gotten out every. single. toy. you people have. Besides that, He has scarfed down all three snacks and has been asking for more food. Also, I am exhausted and in case you can't tell, my backpack smells like feces, but don't worry! At least it's not mine.

I tamped down the urge to tell him how we actually were doing. Logan was pleased as punch and completely un-phased by the fact that he had messed his pants -- about 5 minutes after I had asked him (for the umpteenth time) if he needed to use the bathroom. I was feeling less than happy about having to clean him up -- with paper towels -- because I didn't have enough wash cloths. Plus, I had to send him back to playing -- with no socks -- because I didn't have any in my now-stinky wet-dry bag. I did, however, have several short sleeved shirts-- which are of little use to him now that it's the middle of October in Michigan.

And, if that wasn't enough, I was reminded of how he had wet his pants after his soccer game last Saturday, and Brett had been frustrated by the same type of thing: no pants, but plenty of those same short-sleeved shirts! Ooops! Guess who didn't re-stock the bag? And it's almost been a week. The only saving grace is that I had the foresight to grab a pair of jeans before we left this morning, because guess what else was not in that wet-dry bag?

By this point, I was feeling like a BIG failure as a mom, and I was truly looking forward to heading home. However, I realized that something else was up with the van. I lifted a brow and waited for the service man to tell me what exactly was wrong with my vehicle. How much? How long?

So, I forced a smile and told him, "We're fine," even though I wasn't really feeling that way at all. Thankfully, the news was bearable. The tires were just wearing unevenly and needed to be realigned. It was less than $100, which while not good news, was much better than it could have been. Thank goodness for that 15% off all services coupon! He told me it would take 45 minutes to an hour, and I thought, It has to be now. When else will we have time? And, Will I really want to do this all over again any time soon?! 

And, that was when I realized the irony that once again, I was seated in this dealership, reading yet another a self-help book, exactly what I found myself doing the last time I got bad news about the van. Why is it that I am always reading a book on how to be a better wife, a better mother, a better person? And I never see men reading books on these things. I was tempted to ask the guy why that is? Why am I always reading these books? My husband doesn't read these books. And, I bet he never beats himself up like I do.

Well, obviously, I didn't ask him these questions. He would have thought I was nuts if I said all the weird things that jumped into my addled mind after being asked one simple, rhetorical question. Instead, I told him to just get it done!

And then an hour later, he came back to tell me that the van was finished, as I was on my hands and knees trying to pick up some of the mess. Normally, I would not have left that play area looking like a natural disaster zone. Normally, I would have made Logan pick up every last one (or I'd have done it myself). But, I just didn't see the point. I already felt like one BIG mess. That's when I decided to pay the bill and walk away.

So, I drove away in my freshly-washed-on-the-outside, totally-messy-on-the-inside van, which mirrored how I felt about myself right then. I did my best to put on a good show, but inside I was feeling defeated. For some reason my response the phrase, "How are we doing?" didn't sit well with me at all because I felt like a total fraud. On the other hand, just think about all of the stuff I could have said in response to that dumb rhetorical question... He would have been sorry he asked!

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