When It All Goes Wrong


Dear Courtney,

It feels like I haven’t written in forever!  The past week and a half have been truly insane.

It started out with an amazing, glorious weekend in Napa with some girlfriends.  The only word I have to describe the trip is, perfect.

We were there over Easter weekend, but we wanted to be back for Easter morning, so we took a late flight Saturday night.  I walked through the door at midnight– to a kid with stomach flu.  Over the next several days it worked its way through the rest us.  (At least this time J and I didn’t have it at the same time as the kids!  That was a horrible experience )

Finally, Thursday afternoon, we were all feeling well enough to go for a walk in a nearby park.

Bugaboo happily skipped ahead ; she was “racing” me to the open, grassy area.  I walked behind slowly;  Guy Guy was in the stroller, and Sasha Dog was on her leash.  It was a nice afternoon, and I was enjoying the stroll.  I noticed Bug was pretty far ahead (I’m not great at estimating distance, but let’s say she was the equivalent of 4  house away);   I thought of calling her back, but we were in a safe place, and everyone was having fun.  Besides, I thought, she’s almost to the field.

Then she fell.

It was a fall that would unleash a series of events paralleled only in slapstick movies, nightmares, and the TV show Jackass (don’t ask me how I know that).

At first she seemed unphased by her fall.  I sped up and called, “You okay?”  She pushed herself off her knees and inspected them for damage.  Then she saw the blood– which led her to a complete meltdown.  She let out an ear splitting scream and began to wail uncontrollably.

At this point in the story I should stop and tell you that Sasha Dog loves my kids.  No, I mean she LOVES the kids.  She’s a cattle dog, so she’s patient and gentle, but her instinct is to protect.  If you mess with her herd– watch out!

Anyway when Bug screamed, Sasha panicked.  She must have thought the worst because she took off towards Bugaboo like bat out of hell.  In any moment this would not be ideal, but the bigger problem in that moment was I had the leash wrapped around my wrist.

She bolted; I toppled.

In that moment four things happened simultaneously.  I crashed to the ground.  Another dog, excited by my fall and Sasha’s freedom, pulled free of its owner and darted at me. Sasha, seeing a strange dog rush me, abandoned her mission to save Bug and tackled it.

But worst of all, the thing I can’t stop seeing when I close my eyes, the stroller rolled.

In my memory those moments are all jumbled together.  A movie on fast forward, the events all running into one, only with the sound turned up.  It was utter confusion.

It felt like an eternity before I could pull myself from the ground.  “Please”, I prayed in my head, “please, let him be strapped in.”  I couldn’t remember if I’d buckled Guy when we left the house.  The park isn’t far, and Guy is at the age where he’s in and out of the stroller, so sometimes I just plop him in and neglect the straps.

I never did make it all the way to my feet.  I got as far as my knees and then crawled to the overturned carriage.  As I pushed it back to standing, tears of relief came to my eyes; there he was, not even crying, cinched tight in the five point harness.  Thank goodness.

The park was crowed, and many people came to our aid.  Several ladies fussed over Bug’s bloody knees; someone grabbed Sasha’s leash; a kind woman put her arm around my shoulder, walked me to a bench, and helped me inspect what I think is a sprained ankle.

We were so lucky.

As I reflect on those events, as I think about what could have happened, I feel both blessed and scolded.  In so many ways motherhood is an exercise in vigilance.  Vigilance that the hot coffee is placed far enough back on the table, that our eyes do not leave the child in the tub– even for a second, that the cleaning supply cabinet is always locked, that the child is always buckled securely.

But mistakes happen.  As kids age our focus on those little details fades.   It is easy to cut corners because 99 percent of the time it turns out fine.  Even this story is only an “almost” story.

But I can assure you, the next time Guy is in the stroller, he will be tightly secured.


2 thoughts on “When It All Goes Wrong

  1. Paula Parker says:

    Thank you for sharing. I love your writing. This is my favorite line: “motherhood is an exercise in vigilance” Keep up the great work both as a mother and a blogger! You go girl.

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