1. My beloved station wagon bit the dust. As in, the night before we left, Brian changed the oil, and that was apparently the oil that was holding the car together, because he came back in and announced a. I Would Not Be Driving My Car to Nashville, and b. It's Time To Buy a New Car. Insert weighted sigh here. And then it wouldn't stay cranked. Now, it will crank again, but the car shopping has begun. Sigh, again.
2. The night before we left, Asher had one of those two-hour unendurable tantrums that shaves hours off my life and requires a recovery period. I spent Wednesday night sitting very still on the couch and taking cleansing breaths.
3. Brian and I talked for a while and decided I would still go to Nashville, and I would still take both kids, dead cars and life-draining tantrums notwithstanding. I borrowed a car from my parents, and stayed up way too late packing. I prayed for grace for our trip - not that nothing would go wrong, but for the grace to do the tasks before me well.
(Are you sensing the foreshadowing yet?)
5. The next morning, we were on our way. Driving six hours (yes, six, with plenty of stops to meet the Chick-fil-A cow and change DVD's) with two very small children was remarkably pleasant.
6. Asher didn't sleep well the first night in Nashville. He felt hot to me, but the room was warm, so I put him in cooler clothes, gave him some hopefully obsolete Motrin, and put him back to bed. Insert ominous music here.
7. We woke up Friday morning and decided to be optimistic. He was probably just hot in that room. He was probably just a little tired this morning because he hadn't slept well. We had a full day planned, and decided to go for it. We packed up and headed to Opry Mills, the most overstated mall ever, hoping to allow the children to free-range for a bit while Mikkee and I finished a sentence.
8. As for our optimism ... well, if you hold a heaping mound of optimism in one arm and a whimpering, weepy, feverish boy in an overstimulating public place in another, what have you got?
9. I spent Friday afternoon making assessments. How sick was he, really? Could our plans be salvaged? Was it better to keep a sick boy in a strange place (with his healthy little brother in a cute little house on the side of a hill), or was it better to put a sick little boy in a car for another six hours (with his healthy little brother being subjected to consecutive days in a car seat)? Did we need to find a doctor in Nashville? Will our insurance cover a doctor in Nashville? And so on ... We went to a minute clinic in a pharmacy, which was both every bit as much money as going to see a pediatrician and not one bit as helpful. They had no flu tests, she didn't even mention a strep test (which was the first question my doctor asked a few hours later). She told me to call if I had questions later in the evening, but when I tried, it turns out there isn't even a PHONE in their department. Alas - at least she could tell me it wasn't his ears.
10. And then I spent an hour or so feeling a little sorry for myself and for Mikkee. Sick children! Far from home! And we had fun plans! And I had been so excited about our weekend! And it's probably my last trip to Nashville! And I love Nashville!
11. Until I remembered that children are a blessing, a blessing that is teaching me to be less selfish and more willing to serve. I would rather be Silas and Asher's mother, even when one is sick and the other is bored and we are out of town and I don't get to do what I want to do, than to have all the time in the world to do fun things. This was not about me - it was about my little boy, who clearly needed to go home. And I didn't feel sorry for myself anymore.
12. The next morning, forty eight hours after we left, we drove home. And I realized it is easier to travel with a sick child (with a new DVD bought at full retail price at 9:30 pm the night before - an indicator of my momentary desperation) than I would have ever anticipated.
So yes, our trip did not go as planned. And yes, God answered my prayer - there was grace for the moment. Thanks be to God.
And thanks be to our neighbor, for letting us borrow a portable DVD player. Thanks be to Mikkee, for her graciousness and for spending so much time with the very healthy, very toddlerish Silas. Thanks be to our pediatrician's office, who always calls me back in the middle of the night and always gives me better information in a five minute phone call than any other medical professionals sitting face to face. There's nothing like being away from it to remind me how much I love our pediatrician's office. Thanks be to Brian, for being level-headed and sometimes (mostly always) right. But mostly, thanks be to God.