I’m the one who’s supposed to keep them safe. The one who will keep them from all harm, and who would lay down my life for them if I could. And yet, this week, I’m the one who put them at risk, and landed the truck in a ditch at a 30-degree angle with my precious cargo on board.
Our day started out like so many others: We got up, got dressed and ate breakfast. The boys and I decided to drop Gracie off at school on our way to run errands, rather than having her ride the bus like she usually does. The latest snowstorm had dropped a bunch on us and left us with single-digit temperatures, but the roads were mostly clear, so we headed out. The road to Gracie’s school was worse than most of the others in the area, with only the tire tracks cleared through the drifting snow. One of my tires caught a slick spot, and we started to slide.
We skidded off the road toward a farm field. I steered the best I could, and thought I was going to be able to stop our SUV. In a moment that seemed to last forever, I felt the truck slow almost to a halt at the edge of a steep drainage ditch, teeter for a moment, then slide over the edge and come to a rest at an unnatural angle. No airbags, no visible damage and, most importantly, no injuries to the four kids in their car seats in the back of the vehicle. Once I made sure the kids were OK, I called the tow truck, called my in-laws to come get the kids, and texted my husband. In the moment, I was able to handle all the details; getting Gracie to school, getting the boys home and out of the cold, and handling the matter of getting the truck out of the ditch.
A few hours later, after all was said and done, my toes began to thaw and I started to think not so much about what happened, but what could have happened. The “what-ifs” overwhelmed me: What if there had been oncoming traffic? What if there had been a tree or telephone pole? What if I had rolled the truck rather than gently easing it in nose-first? In other words; What if something had happened to the kids? I was an emotional wreck. Incredibly thankful that we had all been safe, but paralyzed by the fear of something happening to four of the five most important people in my life.
When we said dinnertime prayers, we gave thanks for our safety, and I burst into tears. I saw the big boys being sweet to their baby brother, and I cried again. Logically, I know that accidents happen, but this wasn’t an accident that involved just me. It brought to light every mother’s worst fear, that something could happen to one of her kids. And I really, really hate that feeling.
A few days later, and everything’s OK, but that’s a feeling I hope not to experience again soon (or really, EVER!). I’m thankful to have been level-headed enough in the midst of things to handle the situation; thankful that I could save my freak-out for when everything was settled, but it was just another reminder of how fragile and precious the gifts of my children are, and how fiercely and deeply I love them. In the midst of our busy, hectic lives, I have taken some extra moments this week to soak up the little things and make sure I notice all the kids’ funny little quirks. And if you see a blue Durango full of car seats puttering around Northeast Ohio in the snow, just wave and be patient with me. I’m driving like an old lady because I have precious cargo, and their safety is way more important than getting anywhere in a hurry.