I have been feeling a bit Eeyorish lately. Maybe it's the ridiculous summer heat, maybe it's the lack of Disney World in my life (seriously, it's an obsession), maybe it's the ensuing insanity of my kids. Whatever it is, I have been feeling a little lost. Seeing all the back to school signs and specials in the store make me long to be back at Ben Franklin Middle School in my huge classroom, teaching French to amazing kids with a really fun group of colleagues every day. I miss that camaraderie so much. I miss eating lunch without someone saying, "I have a great idea, Momma! Let's share your sandwich!" I miss planning a night out with the girls and laughing until I cry. I miss a paycheck. I miss feeling like a functioning member of society, someone with something to give. Poor me, right? Waaaaaah.
I was feeling this way until yesterday. I had been looking for a place to donate our gently-used car seat; now that Lottie is in a booster seat, we didn't need the extra car seat. I knew that I couldn't sell or consign the seat, and I knew there must be someone in the city who needed it. Even with the five-year limit on it, the seat still has another good year left in it. I found it difficult to find anyone who would even take it because there was no proof it had never been in an accident. I totally understood that, but I hated to just throw it away. I contacted my friend Cerise who owns Mother Nurture because I figured that anyone who is so invested in parents and their kids would know what to do. (And as an aside, if you know anyone who is pregnant, you have to visit this store. Not only does Cerise stock fantastic products like slings, nursing bras, cloth diapers, and breast pumps, she fosters a real community of caring for parents, mothers in particular.) Cerise pointed me to the Catholic Action Center in town, and indeed, they were happy to have the seat.
Dallas and I went to drop the seat off before we picked Lottie up from school Tuesday afternoon. I wasn't familiar with the area, so I input the information in the GPS in my car. It's not in the greatest part of town; I'm not certain I have ever seen so many "Beware of Dog" signs in one neighborhood before. I wasn't nervous, but I was a little uncomfortable. I pulled up to a warehouse where the doors were open and stuff was piled everywhere. There was only one man working, and he wearily asked if I needed a receipt. I smiled and said no because I didn't want to bother him. He was sorting through clothes, toys, household items, and who knows what else while trying to assist the people who were there to get things they needed. I stopped and looked at everyone who was there. Young and old, black and white, men and women - they were all there with their plastic grocery bags, filling them up with whatever they could. And that's when it hit me. Hard. Some of these people probably have kids of their own, kids who may be the same age as my kids. Kids whose main source of clothing or entertainment or even safety comes from people like me who don't need things anymore or donate things they simply just don't want. I'm pretty sure my heart actually stopped for a moment, and my eyes filled with tears. Who was I to complain about feeling lost or frustrated about lack of "me time" when there are people in my own city who would kill for the same problem? I drove away in my practically brand new Ford Flex, picked up my daughter at her private preschool, and took my kids back to a home that could easily house twice as many as it does.
The whole experience has humbled me in ways I'm not even sure I can explain. I'm glad, too, because I think everyone needs to eat some crow now and again to stay grounded. My life is pretty great, and that's all there is to it. Bad days happen, absolutely. Bad weeks, bad months, bad years happen. Everybody has a story, and we don't always know what the story is. But I'd like to know and I'd like to help if I can. Because that's what I have to give, and right now, that's enough.