I don’t have to tell you about the power of peer pressure. In the past week I’ve felt more than usual. In the cries of “try this diet’, ‘relax and love them’, ‘stricter schedule’, ‘apply four times daily’, ‘sterilize the pump pieces with a Q-tip’, and ‘are the shirts clean for the school theme days?’ came a new cry that caught my attention: “GO SEE ‘Mom’s NIGHT OUT’ ASAP!”
Why? Not simply because it was a good movie. Apparently because this movie reminded some of my friends of me. Hm. Clearly this is because art imitates life, right?
It finally happened; I banded together with three great girls to laugh ourselves silly at what our lives look like to others. Although I had no popcorn, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I’d see myself, huh? I sat back in my comfy seat and prepared to be impressed.
The movie opened with a voice. “Okay. Time to blog. I am a mommy blogger…pearls of wisdom comin’ atcha.” Okay, well I’m not a mommy blogger. I’m not trying to be anyway. I just love sharing the humor of my life with others because apparently it is ridiculous and my life isn’t normal. I thought everyone got flashed in the grocery store by veterans eager to display scars. Apparently not.
A few scenes later the desperate redhead is trying to wrangle the children into a state of being ready for church. As she leads the stray cats into church and sits nothing goes well. As she sits alone in the pew while her husband is away (check) she quickly gets paged back to the nursery to retrieve her son whose head is in something it shouldn’t be. “I’m supposed to remind you to take your number. I know you didn’t want to get paged today but you need to take it.”
I glanced down the aisle. Everyone was smiling at me.
As the movie’s night out spirals out of control I found myself laughing at the truth of it all.
About halfway in I realized I couldn’t deny the similarities.
A church friend mentioned that the scene in the restaurant where the redhead looses it and something ‘ugly is happening to her face’ reminded her of me. Ouch. Then again, I am the murderess of auras everywhere. That’s the real reason I no longer reside in Austin, Texas.
It couldn’t all possibly apply to me, right? I mean, who has ever had a biker gang involved in a baby search-and-rescue?
That would be me.
When my firstborn son was a mere 5 weeks old the Army sent us from Georgia to Arizona. With my mother, a 16 year old black lab, an injured and nursing mother and a new baby still struggling with breathing, we drove across the nation only to find out our new home was in an area being evacuated due to uncontrolled forest fires.
Our moving van was literally forced out by emergency vehicles. By that Sunday we had been in a new state for 48 hours. We had been evacuated twice. My mother and I spent the night in a motel with the shower running half the night so my newborn could breathe while my husband was in another motel that took dogs. That Sunday morning we dug out our nice clothes out of suitcases and headed to church. We needed Jesus in a big way.
We visited a church and had a fairly disheartening experience. It was the first time (and not the last) my baby was asked to leave church. He was 6 weeks old and silent, but you know. We didn’t return to that one.
Afterward we went to get groceries in 109 degree ‘dry heat’ only to have the car overheat and die on the side of the road. No one stopped for us because dozens of cars were pulled over to take pictures of the fire. We realized the baby was overheating so we stripped him ‘nekked’ and gave him a Presbyterian baptism with what remained in our water bottles and tried to figure out how to get help. The lines were all busy; everyone authorized to save the day was in use.
When we realized no one was going to stop for a family with a new baby and melting groceries, my mother (God bless her), being ‘moved by the Spirit’ felt it necessary to run out in front of a police car driving down the road. “They’ll stop for an old woman!” she declared. My husband called, “You’re not old!” and muttered to me “They stop for crazy people too, thank goodness.”
“How is no one stopping for a stranded family with a baby? Does no one think about the good Samaritan? Goodness people! Well, this Baptist is going to help!”
Soon an ambulance on its way up the mountain did a quick diagnostic and allowed my son to stay with me as long as I got him home. There was nothing to do but to get a ride back to the house with the policeman, but I had to go with only the baby. I was to feed the dog and baby and then gather emergency bags for every family member until they could come get me. Little known fact: a car seat does not fit in the back of a police vehicle.
As I rode away with my baby in the back of a police car into a neighborhood on fire, my mother and husband are left standing on the side of the road. Momma still laughs about the look on my face. The tow truck pulled up, looked at the two of them and drawled, “I don’t take passengers.” He must have looked down at my gorgeous mother in her church dress and heels and my man is Sunday attire holding wilted grocery bags and taken pity. “Well, just this once. I’ll take you to the tow place and call you a cab. That’s the best I can do.”
He opened the door to the greasiest tow truck in Christendom. My husband, ever the gentleman, scooted in between this man and my mother. They set 6 bags of groceries on top of the tools on the floorboards. As they arrived at the tow area a minivan pulled up. The woman who greeted them probably spent a lot of time on the back of a motorcycle in younger years. Her hair was wild and frequently dyed and her skin was leathery tanned from years in the sun. She smiled constantly which displayed a few more holes than teeth. In the thickest Alabama accent Momma has heard outside of Georgia she asked, “Y’all call a cab?” “Yes, Ma’am, we did.” For ten minutes they drove, chatting about the woman’s girls and life in Arizona. She was a wonderfully friendly woman who was by far the friendliest person we had met that day. She is the kind of woman everyone should know; she had lived enough life to have the best stories and tell you what really matters.
As they pulled onto the street that leads to our neighborhood, the smoke was billowing overhead. A policeman was closing the street and telling the cab to turn away. She radioed back to ‘home base’ and was told that everything was closed; there was no way for my husband and mother to reach me, even on foot.
“Drop them off as close as possible and get outta there!”
She pulled up to the policeman who was turning away. My husband leaned over to the police officer and said, “Sir, my wife and newborn son are in that neighborhood. I need to get to them.” Reluctantly, the officer allowed them to go past provided that they be back out in three minutes.
The van radio came back on asking if the driver had turned around. With a flip of her hair and resolve crossing her face, tan and bony fingers swooped to grab the radio.
“Earl, NOT going to happen. There’s a BAY-BEE IN-VOLVED!” She slammed that radio down and said, “Let’s go get them.”
Take that, Earl.
Soon after they pulled up to the house and we all evacuated together for another day of a grand adventure. Yes, I too have required bikers and Baptists to help me in a situation with my baby.
While my mom handed me a clean shirt and told me this was a part of motherhood, I remember looking at her totally exasperated saying, “My newborn son just got kicked out of church and rode in a police vehicle in the same day and it isn’t even noon!”
Honestly, I struggle with the same issues that the movie clearly displays; I am never enough. I am not doing it right. My kids are messes. I hide in closets and eat chocolate. Perhaps I need a pep-talk with Trace Atkins in a police station… or a good tazing.
Friends, we all need a night out and to hear this: This mom thing is HARD. You are doing a great job.
Call me soon for another night out. What’s the worst that can happen?