Last month I was in the car when the teen driver ran a red light. It was my lovely bonus daughter who has been living with us full time for the past six months or so. She was 17 with her learner’s permit. I was in the passenger seat while she drove herself to her job at a pizza place. She misjudged timing, freaked out and ran a red light.
A car had to swerve to avoid plowing into me, on the passenger side.
WAY TOO CLOSE.
I had her immediately pull over to catch our breath. We switched places and I drove her the rest of the way to work. I was able to stay calm and tell her it’s all a learning experience.
Until she got out of the car.
Then I fell apart, shaking, hyperventilating, crying.
We ran a red light and almost got into an accident!
My mind started buzzing.
She’s not legally my kid. She’s not on my car insurance. What if she was hurt, hurt someone or damaged my car or someone else’s?
Oh, and a car almost just plowed directly into where I was sitting.
Kiddo was obviously still thinking about it at work. “I almost killed Mom” came through on the family group text. The other teen (my legal daughter) called to find out what was going on and I couldn’t control my crying.
I made it home and crashed on the couch, where I continued to be an emotional mess for another hour or two. It just snowballed to the point where I was obsessing over all my past mistakes and beating myself up for not having a solid plan for the future.
Eventually I pulled myself together because I had plans for the evening. My daughter asked if she could come. “Not tonight. Momma really needs some adult time.” Her feelings were hurt and I left with her giving me the silent treatment.
Still an emotional mess…
I was meeting a friend for drag queen bingo at a little pub downtown. This friend moved away last year and was back for a quick visit, staying at a hotel on the beach. She texted she was bringing a friend and running late so I snagged us the last table. It was outside on the patio.
I’ve attended this monthly event often and am totally comfortable going alone, sitting at the bar. The waitress gently asked, “Are you sure your friends are coming?” more than once because there were people with no seats. I ordered a pot of cheese fondue to have ready when the rest of my party arrived.
It was so hot outside. And crowded. The drag queen teased me about my friends standing me up. I was sweating with a big pot of cheese all alone.
I texted some other friends, a married couple, to see what they were up to. They were at a punk rock show down the street. I told them I thought I was stood up.
My friend apologetically revealed they still weren’t on the way after an hour. My head was hurting – probably from the stress of the near collision after we ran a red light, as well as the heat. I’d eaten way too much cheese fondue just because it was there. I was taking up space by myself at a table for four.
And I was just over it.
But it was a good night.
I called my daughter and told her I was heading home. She could tell I was bummed my friend didn’t make it and said, “It’s okay, Momma, we can do something together.” My heart overflowed. I left the house with her feeling rejected and here she was already offering support.
As I pulled into my driveway, the married couple texted asking where I was. They’d left the show to come be with me because I said I got stood up. And my heart overflowed more.
Since I’d already told me daughter we’d do something, I couldn’t go back to them, but I thanked them for being such great friends.
My daughter and I went out for a little adventure. I decided I really needed a soak in a hot tub. My nerves and body were frayed. So we walked ourselves right through the lobby of a hotel on the beach and into their hob tub. (Shhhhhhhhh) Then we went out for ice cream.
We stopped by the bar I’d started at on the way home. My girl stayed in the car talking on the phone to her friend while I ran in to say hi to my friends who were still there. They were glad to see me. We chatted a bit and then my girl and I went home.
Snapchat videos started coming dfrom my bestie boo. He was out at Parliament House in Orlando and happened upon a drag show he knew I’d love.
Then another friend sent me photos of baby ducks, Salt Lake City Pride and his cat being silly.
These two guys had no idea I’d almost been in a car accident and had spent the last few hours an emotional wreck. They just saw things they knew I’d like and wanted me to see it too. My married friends didn’t know about the accident either. They just didn’t want me to be alone when I was expecting to be with a friend.
And my heart overflowed yet again.
I met up with the friend who couldn’t make it to drag queen bingo the next day. She felt awful. We had a great day on the beach from late morning mimosas to watching the stars that evening.
Hitting the pause button.
I have these two teenage girls who call me Mom, even though neither was born to me. They’ve chosen to trust, love and connect with me. I have amazing friends. I’m recovering from some really hard stuff. It was just over a year ago my child almost died, followed by my choice to leave a toxic nearly 20 year marriage.
We almost ran a red light and I am so grateful no one was injured. But it made me realize I had been so consumed with guilt about the past and fear about the future, I hadn’t been enjoying the NOW.
I made the conscious effort to hit the pause button and focus on the present for the rest of the summer. It’s work, and I slip up sometimes. But I’m enjoying time with my girls before they head off to college, doing some serious self care and appreciating the people who make life feel a little easier.
I’m actually grateful we ran a red light. I really needed a perspective shift.