Preparing to Experience Emergencies

They say the best way to avoid disaster is to plan ahead to prevent it. They also say experience is the best teacher. These pieces of advice are both true. Case in point…

8:06pm. One child was fed and in his swing. The other was in his crib, shrieking at the injustice of being subjected to the torture of a good night’s rest. (How dare I incarcerate an American citizen without cause? Fine. Son, you have the right to remain SILENT.)

The glorious moment had arrived…the time I could slip into the bathroom without interruption and enjoy the glory of a hot shower. (Angelic Hallelujah!) On the way up the stairs, my beloved said to me: “Dear, we are out of toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom. You may want to grab a roll.”

–          Exhibit 1 of disaster avoidance. There is NOTHING quite like the blunder of the toilet-paperless tinkle. Only 6 years into marriage and my man knows to warn me (or avoid a trip upstairs and keep his wife from yelling throughout the house after bedtime!)

empty roll

With that disaster averted I replaced the roll and still quite elated, enjoyed the lovely sound of a shower starting. Aah. Now, I have had horrendous eye allergy issues for a few weeks, so I have opted for glasses and eye drops throughout the day. Hence, when I took off my glasses for the shower, my world became a blur.

-Exhibit 2 of disaster avoidance: Always look first. Now, I tried. Unfortunately, it helps to have eyesight when one looks. -4.5 and blurry mixed with mom-fatigue did me in.

After a few minutes of enjoying hot water and feeling the day start to wash away I reached for the shampoo. I missed. It was not a problem of depth perception. My mind returned to 1 pm to the loud thumps that came from the bathroom during a diaper change. I now knew what they are. All the shower items had been moved from the shower and relocated to the separate garden tub.

With a heavy sigh I opened the door to cold air and proceeded to do the ‘shower run’.  You know the run. You’ve done it. It’s the awkward balance between haste and not slipping on a wet floor and breaking your hip so that others have to save your wet, shiny hiney. I reached over the tub, trying not to touch the tiles that were -40 degrees, and grasped for the shampoo and body wash. Conditioner would have to wait until next week’s shower.


I did my Mommy-Mambo back to the shower, anxious to bring my body temperature above that of a polar bear’s. I shook my head to myself and scolded my lack of momsense. Why on earth would I expect my belongings to be where I left them when a toddler lives in this home?  Then I felt a sense of regrouping. This was my only personal time during the day where I had the freedom to indulge in the glories of washing my armpits. (You’re welcome, neighbors.) The glories of tinkling unaccompanied, having clean hair and smooth legs, slathering on some lotion and anti-wrinkle cream (resistance is futile, I know)… and it was nearly called on account of boys. Be ready for anything, right?


Experience is a good teacher. I will always check the shower before entering and make restocking the toilet paper reserve a weekly occurrence, even when unnecessary. The fact is, life takes vigilance.

This week I got to church and realized I had gone through all the newborn sized diapers during the first service. Secondborn was particularly moved by the Spirit- he filled 3 diapers in 2 hours. It wasn’t pretty. Furthermore, he waited until the prayers to ‘call an audible’. Superbowl Sunday or not, it was unsportsmanlike conduct that cracked up the pew. I had to find the emergency bag in the car, fish out two extra diapers, and then remember the following day to restock to avoid further disaster.  Even the most diligent mothers are caught without a 3rd extra outfit, a sippy cup, wipes, homework folders, permission slips, or thawed meat for dinner. It’s hard to run a house and keep everyone alive, let alone learning and prospering. No wonder when the moment comes to finally slow down the adrenaline and coffee IV, a mom can be caught unprepared. Add it to life learning experiences.

As I sit here today soothing a baby and looking out on my toy-littered living room, I realize how far my preparation skills have come. I realize how many items have been added to the ‘I know better’ list. The balance  between preparation and learning from experience is a hard one. My younger sister married an exceptional young man two weeks ago. Like all weddings, it was a lovely affair full of minor emergencies and disasters.  I thought about how I thought I had been prepared for marriage- and in many ways I did start out in good shape. Still, only experience can prepare you for the real thing. War movies and Family Readiness Group meetings can’t prepare you for the first week of a deployment. Weeks of terminal illness can’t alleviate the loss when a loved one dies. All the “I told you so”s and coffee in the world can’t replace the months of sleep loss that comes with children of all ages. No amount of economy news coverage can help when you are the hard working victim of a budget cut. The most vigilant toilet paper roll monitor will still fall victim to a husband’s efforts and relaxing showers often don’t exist with toddlers in the house.

Preparation really does alleviate all manner of disasters and a lot of grief. Preparing for what won’t and what undoubtedly will happen are often intertwined. Experience comes from both. What are you preparing for? How do your experiences mold how you prepare for things? Conflict? Relationships? Grocery shopping after payday? In life’s survival kit /diaper bag, pack a few things.

Wipes– Be ready to clean up messes, to forgive, and to help when things get sticky.

Diapers- Crap is inevitable. Whether you just trash it or take it home and wash it, hanging onto it to long stinks up everything,

Snacks– Nourishment and refueling are crucial. The Bread of Life- God’s words Nature Valley Bars and Cheerios will make the day go smoothly.

Books- Learning is fun. Engage an idea, educate yourself, and have an escape handy when time allows. A waiting room is the perfect place to teach numbers and to be whisked away to another place.

Cell- Don’t cut yourself off totally; communication is important. Rather than be totally connected all day, just have it handy for needs and specified moments. Even when life is busy, your friends need you. Use good judgment.

Wallet– Carry your identification and sense of self; don’t leave it behind at the house or workplace. Be who you are everywhere and don’t forget your means of currency!

You may need to carry other things with you, but preparation is key. Adjust and learn from experience. Otherwise, your shower will be a waste of water.


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