I have a flair for the dramatic and a nasty habit of over-dramatizing things. But that said, there have been times in my life when I have handled crisis with a calm demeanor and made solid decisions... and there have been times that I was like Chicken Little screaming that the sky was falling.
We were stationed in a sleepy little town in southern Texas. The girls were both little, one in first grade and one in preschool/military daycare and life was so full. My husband and I both worked and juggled home life as best as we could.
I worked at the district clerk’s office in a courthouse that dated back to the early 1900, it was drafty and the elevator wasn’t trust worthy. I entered court notes and results into the official district court records via electronic typewriter as the computer system was still DOS back then. It was old school.
We were stationed about an hour away from a major city and every month, we would take the kiddos to the big city to go eat or shop, it was a highlight for us.
My husband had gotten off early one day and stopped at the base’s daycare to pick up our youngest. He checked her out and then swung by the school when the oldest was done with her day. At 5 p.m., he was waiting outside of the courthouse for me to get off work and then we headed for a night of shopping and eating in the big city.
We never stayed long. Our kids had an early bedtime and life was so busy back then. We loved to take them to the mall where they had a huge playground in the middle. You could sit and watch them play and play and wear themselves out. It was a great thing for two tired young parents. Most times, we would eat something from the food court and just catch up with each other, while the kids played.
We wound up back at the courthouse right before 9 that evening to pick up my vehicle and take our sleepy kiddos home when IT happened. It was a chilly winter in Texas so I quickly jumped out to crank my SUV and start the heat. And at some point, I switched the sleepy toddler from the carseat in my husband’s vehicle to the one in my SUV, and then, out of habit, I locked the SUV.
I locked my sleeping toddler in my truck.
I sat there speechless for a second as I processed the dilemma. There she was quickly sleeping as the truck ran and kept her nice and warm, and I was cold and jacketless standing outside, where my anxiety began to build to a disastrous peak.
At some point, I sucked in enough air that I was able to turn and verbally throw up all over my poor husband, who was due to start night duty at the base in less than an hour.
In crisis mode, I tend to handle things efficiently and effectively then once the dust settles, I fall apart. But not this time, I wasn’t thinking that she’s safely locked in a warm environment, all I could see was that my baby was separated from me.
And my oldest was having a complete meltdown between being tired and being cold, she was no help. She was making her discomfort known, and I was trying to catch my breath.
My better half is calm. He’s level-headed and militant regardless of the situation. Taking in all the drama and looking at his watch. (He had to be back on base and ready to assume watch. If you’re not a military folk, that’s a big deal and if you are late, you are dead.)
He gave me sweet words and cuddled the oldest, then picked up a rock and busted out the passenger side window of the SUV, before calmly hitting the unlock button. Meanwhile, my kiddo slept through it all. He kissed my forehead and then departed after a few words of wisdom, “take the kids home and be safe. I’ll buy a new window tomorrow.” Then he was off to work. My hero.