I should not be allowed an iPhone. This weekend, I set a willful child on the toilet in an effort to get her to pee when my phone dropped out of my pocket and went for a swim. Typically, I keep my hands out of toilet water, but I amazed myself at how quickly I stuck my hand in that bowl. I’d like to think that my reflexes would be that sharp if I ever had to rescue anything of true value–I scooped that phone out of the watery abyss in .2 seconds flat.
Despite my laser-sharp reflexes, a turn with the hair dryer, and a bag of rice, the screen on my phone went black (but that stupid phone taunted me all day, ringing and dinging to notify me of e-mails that had come in but I would never see), and my iPhone was useless. It was a terrible day to not have my phone.
Saturday, Matt volunteers at church for most of the day, so I was on my own to take Caleb to a roller skating birthday party and occupy the two girls. My attempt to find a ride for Caleb didn’t work, but I was adamant that I was not going to teach three children to skate that day–I would drop Caleb at the party and then take the girls to the toy store to spend some of their allowance, assuming, of course, that the party location was near the toy store.
Caleb would have to leave the party early to ensure we got to church early as I was also volunteering that day. If I had my handy, dandy iPhone, I could’ve figured out my route quickly. Except I didn’t. My iPhone continued to taunt me.
I printed off some directions from one of the map websites and rounded up the children into the van, a little later than we planned to leave, of course. Ten minutes later, I neared our destination. But after driving past 1700 Buford Drive four times (twice from each direction), I decided that the directions I was following was not to the location where we were trying to go.
I would’ve called the grandmother hosting the party, but, oh yeah–I couldn’t. At this point, I had a decision to make. We were already 30 minutes late for the party, and I still didn’t know where to go to get to this party. I could go home and make a second attempt at printing off the right directions, or I could tell Caleb that we would take his friend and him roller skating another day. When the latter offer produced tears from the back seat, I decided the former. We would get to that stupid party no matter what. And we kept on going.
I drove home, ran into the house, printed off new directions, printed off directions from the party to church, and got back in the van (did I mention that we don’t have a land line, so I couldn’t call the grandmother from my house, either?). Looking at the directions to this farther away place, I realized that Caleb would only have about 40 minutes at the party. I explained this fact to him, emphasizing that he most likely will have missed the skating part of the party or the cake, depending on the order they chose. Caleb nodded that he understood and blinked back his tears.
As we sat in traffic due to road construction, I felt my blood pressure rise and created new profanities in my mind. We were going to get to that party even if Caleb only got to shake his friend’s hand and give her her present before he turned around to leave! So we kept on going.
At 4:00 p.m. we arrived at the party that was supposed to end at 4:30. Caleb had missed the cake, but the kids were skating again. Caleb had 30 minutes to learn how to skate. I would’ve loved to teach him, but I had a four-year-old holding one hand and a two-year-old holding the other–two girls who would have to wait another day to go to the toy store.
Luckily, a compassionate woman at the party saw my full hands and took Caleb out on the floor. I watched and held my breath as Caleb flailed his arms and legs around in an attempt to catch his balance. I cringed as his legs flew completely out from under him. And with each wild slam to the floor, I fought between the instinct that wanted to laugh at how crazy my son looked and the fear that I would find a limb dangling in an odd direction as he climbed back to his feet. But despite each painful-looking fall, Caleb kept on going.
While he could’ve spent more time learning how to skate on the carpeted floor, Caleb’s competitive drive kept him on the slick rink. In one moment he looked like a kid at a concert body surfing–on-lookers sitting on the edge of the rink took turns holding him up as he threatened to land on them or crash to the floor–yet in the next moment, this little boy was balancing on two skates making his way around the curve by himself.
I couldn’t have been more proud (or terrified).
The time came to turn in the skates, thank the host, and jump back in the van with my printed directions. Unfortunately, the people who make these things think I know the difference between ‘northeast’ and ‘southwest’. Seriously, ‘left’ or ‘right’ works just fine for me. Now, we were going to be late for church, but we kept on going. Watching my son take fall after fall without a grimace made me realize that I could, too.
I kept on going because that’s what moms do. We keep going when the logical choice would be to turn back, save gas, and miss the party; we value the smile on our kids’ faces more. We keep going when we’re tired and want to go to bed because we’d rather our family wear clean clothes, instead. We keep going when that little voice in our heads tells us our efforts are not worth it, reminding us of all the wasted time we spent doing tasks that already needed to be redone, reminding us of the life we could have if we lived for ourselves.
We keep going because, the reality is, no matter how tired we are or frustrated we feel, we’re doing exactly what we want to do. We pick ourselves up off our bruised bottoms and dry our hands of toilet water and kiss goodbye to our gas money because, as contradictory as it sounds some day, the bruises and the stress and the loss of money contribute to a beautiful mosaic of stories and the character we need to keep on going the next day.
We keep on going. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do today and the next, with or without my iPhone.
What keeps you going?