Once upon a week or so ago I hit the freeway with two dogs, a baby, and all our stuff crammed in to every spare nook of my compact Chevy Cruze. The day was probably the worst in Maisy’s life (at least that she or I can remember as of now). Within the span of the 12 something hours of daylight we get these days she got a face full of snow, was a mess of an emotional baby through the entirety of our trip to Minnesota, tipped over in the tub and got a mouth full of water, and hit herself in the face with some keys. In all these moments Maisy was varying degrees of pathetic baby and I felt like the worst mom on the planet. Feel free to judge me, it’s a sad and constant side effect of the job anyway, but I promise I watch this girl like a hawk!
Well we hit the road and, as always, I had a sense I’d forgotten something. Not too far into the trip I realized the missing items where the dogs leashes. Instead of turning around I resolved to simply encourage them to hold it until we got to Minnesota. Worked like a charm actually, the second success of the day (the first being that I installed Maisy’s new car seat super securely). The rest of the trip was a battle though. Maisy cried the better part of our 6 hour drive. Do you know what that feels like? Fellow moms unite! The rest of you can, at best, sympathize. To a mother, your baby crying (or sometimes any baby) feels like you are actually on a high speed chase. Compound that about ten times the duration of the actual duration of the crying and you have a sense for the wreckage this ensures on a mom’s state of emotional, physical, and otherwise wellbeing at the end of it all. Despite my frequent stopping to nurse and otherwise care for Maisy on our trip she just screamed. By the time I got to Minnesota it felt like we were traveling for a week, not just half a day, and I was in such a state of brain fog and in such a tortured emotional state after having to listen to my precious baby girl scream for so long that I couldn’t even talk straight – I managed to blindly shovel random portions of food into my mouth and stutter incoherent segments of sentences out. Yeah, turns out Maisy screamed my brains out… go figure that out.
Oh wait, I got a little ahead of myself. So, when we arrived I parked the car along the street. I took a minute to figure out what I should grab to go inside right away – again… brain mush. Then I walked around to the back door to get Maisy. Halfway through unbuckling her it occurred to me that Sam was not graciously ducking out of my way in the seat that I have to reach over to get Maisy out (her car seat is secured in the center of the back seat). I increasingly frantically looked on the seat thinking maybe in addition to my brain being mush that I also went slightly blind and my black dog blended into the black upholstery so thoroughly he disappeared. Nope not there. I frantically started saying his name. I glanced to the floor, in Haley’s seat, in the front of the car… nothing. I stood their blank faced and helpless. My mind cycled back to our last stop – some gas station a couple of hours away. That’s it, I lost our dog and was so busy getting my brains screamed out by my baby that I didn’t even notice he wasn’t in the car with us for the last two hours. I pictured my fluffy little ragamuffin wandering around the gas station all by himself and then taking off into oblivion to look for us. I would never find him again. How would I tell Josh?
Then I heard a big dog territorially barking. And I heard a little tinkling noise.
“Sam!” I yelled.
“Sam! Sam. Sam. Sam!”
And there he was. Fur raised along his spine like the ridge of scales along a dinosaur’s back, collar tinkling, and whimpering his remarks at the big dog. With some meandering and more probing on my part he finally started towards me with some reserve – he always knows it’s naughty to run off but does it anyway.
“You little stinker.” I couldn’t even be mad. I was so relieved that I simply plopped him back into the car – the better to finish getting Maisy out while maintaining his safety from death by car or some other force outside of my control.