I’ll admit when it comes to parenting I strive for perfection. I try very hard to give my kids the best that I can. I send them to a good school. I make sure they eat right. Physical activity is also a big part of their lives.
Sometimes I work too hard at becoming the “perfect mom,” and it backfires. Last night was a prime example of my determination to do everything right ending up being all wrong.
My oldest daughter (age 13) is in softball. She has been begging me to let her join softball for several years. The first year she asked I was pregnant and on bed rest so getting her to games was out of the question. The second year she asked to join we were having financial difficulties and moved across the country. Last year when she asked about softball when I looked into signing her up I was too late. This year I finally made that commitment and for the first time I became a sports mom.
I remember when my older siblings were involved in sports and how much fun it was attending their events. These memories made me look forward to going to my daughter’s games. However, I didn’t think about how challenging it was going to be for me to watch three little kids while at her games. I also forgot that she will have away games and I am not familiar with the Sacramento area having only lived here for two years now. Oh, and did I fail to mention that I have severe anxiety which is brought upon by heavy traffic?
Last night Courtney (my daughter) had a game out in a neighboring town about 45 minutes from here. I have never been to the park where the game was, but I was confident and determined to get her there on time. She needed to be there by 5:15. No problem, right?
We got home from school at our usual time, 3:30 so that gave me an hour to feed the kids before we left. Fortunately I had chicken dinosaurs in the freezer and they only take a few minutes in the microwave. I also made Courtney a box of Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese. I looked up the directions to the park on Google Maps making sure I was avoiding the freeways. I was so proud of myself because I had all the kids in the van and ready to go by 4:30.
When we left the gas light came on and I knew I would have to stop for gas. I told my navigator (Courtney) to watch for gas stations along the way. Rush hour was just starting and even though I was taking back roads the traffic started to get heavy. We passed a couple of gas stations but they were on the wrong side of the road so I wasn’t able to stop. I thought, I can make it without refueling. I was determined to get my daughter to her game on time.
One of the right hand turns totally caught me off guard. I thought I was taking all back roads but for some reason I ended up on the freeway. Nearly in a panic I took the next available exit and asked for directions at a Chickfilla.
I told the young man at the counter where I was going and he said that I needed to get back on the freeway and there is an exit for the road that the park is on. I hate the freeways out in California. The speed limit is 65 but during rush hour everyone drives like the speed limit is 85. I knew Courtney was already going to be late so I decided to risk it and hop on the freeway. At the very moment I was getting on the busy highway my husband called. I panicked because I needed my daughter to help me watch for traffic but she was busy chatting with her dad. As I neared the entrance I almost collided with another minivan. Screaming and still in panic mode I was able to get my van onto the freeway.
Traffic was flowing smoothly and I was able to stay in the slow lane while I searched for the exit. We passed several exits but I could not find the right one. Somehow I ended up in a downtown area. I knew this was not right. By this time it was already 5pm so I knew she was going to be late.
I stopped at a local gas station and once again asked for directions. The guy behind the counter hadn’t heard of the park but he knew where the road it was on was. I thought, finally I am making progress! He told me to take the next left, go over the railroad tracks and make a right. That road will become the road that I am looking for. Easy enough, right?
The road he told me to get on was Nickolaus. All the roads in that area were either numbered or lettered. I knew this was not right, especially when I ended up at the local high school. Now we were nearing 5:30 so of course my daughter was late.
I saw some kids playing baseball and thought for sure they would know how to get to the park. They hadn’t heard of this park either, but they knew how to get to the street it was on. They directed me to the correct street which was only a couple of blocks away. I was told to turn right and go up the hill. There are a few parks up that way and one of them has a softball field so they thought that was where her game was. I thanked them and was on my way; forgetting that my gas tank was getting emptier, and emptier.
Once again back in the van, the kids started screaming and making noise, my teething baby began to fuss, and my impatient teenage daughter complained and texted her teammates to let them know that she was going to be late. I thought we are getting close and will be there any minute. As we traveled up the hill I heard the van sputter…then it died. Yes, I ran out of gas.
The game started at 6:15 and by this time it was nearing a quarter two six. Not only was my daughter missing the warm up now I thought she would miss the whole game all together. I remembered that my father-in-law was meeting us there because Courtney left her cleats at his house over the weekend. So I gave him a call and told him what happened.
About twenty minutes later my father-in-law showed up and I found out that I was eight miles the opposite way from where the park is. I should have turned left instead of right. I guess you can’t trust high-school baseball players for directions, or gas station attendants, or Chickfilla employees or Google Maps. I also learned that when my gas light comes on I have to stop for gas no matter what.
By this time my husband was home from work so he headed up with a gas can full of gasoline for the van. My father-in-law took my daughter to her game and I stayed with the three little ones on the side of the road. While waiting for my husband three separate gentlemen stopped to make sure I was alright. There are good people in this world.
I waited alone with the kids for about 20 minutes or so. The baby was fussy so I had to walk around on the side of the road with him (away from traffic, of course). When I saw a rainbow just east of us I knew everything was going to turn out alright.
My father-in-law came back and my husband arrived shortly after that. After making three trips to the gas station and jump starting the van we finally got it started at 7:45 pm. This was just in time for the end of my daughter’s game. During the entire game I was sitting on the side of the road with three cranky little kids. I followed my husband out in the car while he drove the kids home in the van. We took back roads ( a different route than the one on Google Maps) and made it home safely around 8:45pm. Everyone got to bed an hour later than usual but at least we made it home safely.
To avoid this in the future we have decided that if Courtney has an evening away game my father-in-law is going to take her and I will stay home with the kids. I guess I can’t make it to all of her games.