Who knew that the ordinarily mundane act of taking the kids to school could be such an adventure?
It started out wonderfully enough. The two-hour late start was perfect for my late-to-bed, late-to-rise m.o. The sun was shining, the kids were unusually chipper from yesterday’s snow day, and I had enough time and energy to make a decent breakfast.
Then came the phone call from hubby: “The snow plow shoved all the snow in the cul-de-sac up against our driveway. I’m not sure you’ll be able to get out.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Yesterday’s snow day with the kids and daddy off work turned out to be a nice reprieve, but another day at home without hubby didn’t sound as appealing. I was motivated to tackle the pileup. So off we went, gunning it down the driveway and circling around on the side with less snow, all in reverse. Going, going, going….and!…(thump). Stuck City.
By this time, the kids were charged up. The youngest two had begun making up silly words and the oldest three were mumbling Hail Marys that we would remain stuck. Sitting there in the middle of our cul-de-sac in the sun, snow all around us, I thought, Hmmm….maybe this is far as we get today. I thought through the different scenarios of what the day might bring, depending on whether we were able to get un-stuck. No, I’ve got to figure it out.
About five minutes later, I’d somehow made my way onto the smooth part of the cul-de-sac and off we went to join the rest of the busy school- and work-bound world. “Yes!” I said as we turned onto the busy avenue that would lead us toward school. “Ah, Mom, why’d you have to get unstuck?” groaned the kids. But about a block from school, as I turned into the drop-off lane, we came against another snow pileup that my gutless minivan couldn’t conquer, and were stuck again in a most inconvenient spot. As the other moms and dads in their bigger, more powerful rigs drove past heading the other way, they began rolling down their windows to see if I needed help. Eventually, I got out of that predicament, too, and the moaning from the back seat resumed. After a few more stops and starts, and one wild swerving, gunning effort near our house, Nick and I rolled into the driveway, safe and sound.
I learned a few things this morning.
One, if you’re going to get stuck in the snow, there are few better places to do it than a block from your kids’ school. A fleeting moment of helplessness passed as fellow mothers and fathers stopped to see if they could help, and their assistance is what got me out and back on even ground. I wasn’t even close to being alone, and that was a great feeling, indeed.
Two, no obstacle, no snow pile, is too high if you have even the smallest glimmer of hope.
I marked another passage in Kathleen Norris’s Acedia & Me that relates to this. Norris is retelling a story from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress which describes the journeying of the hero, Christian, who has stumbled into the Slough of Despond, “a swamp fouled by fears and doubts, where he struggles to maintain his footing.” Eventually, after a few stops and starts and a fairly long stint of being trapped in the Doubting Castle, Christian remembers he has a key called Promise that will open any lock in the castle. “When I first read this passage,” Norris wrote, “it delighted me and resonated deeply. I continue to be amazed at how the slightest hope, like a small breeze, will arise when despair seems most invincible. The obstacles it has set in my path prove to be phantoms, and following a faint scent of fresh air, I find my way through the musty castle, run into the open, and inhale.”
…following a faint scent of fresh air, I find my way through the musty castle, run into the open, and inhale.
That’s something worth remembering, I think. Whether it be physical obstacles, like numerous snow piles the day after a blizzard, or the less tangible psychological obstacles we all encounter in our lives, if we keep searching for that faint scent of fresh air, we can find our way through the musty castle.
I’m hanging on to that image, knowing I’m going to need it again and again as I continue, as we all do in one way or another, trudging through intermittent snow mounds in search of even, plowed ground.