Thursday, May 17, 2012

From Bad to Worse

This has been a hard week.  My limits have been tested, my patience has been destroyed, my anger has been flamed, and my strength has been lost.  Sometimes I think I am holding it together, and then I cried at the FedEx store because my package was on the truck after I drove 15 minutes to the store.  Obviously anyone who sheds tears in the FedEx store cannot be described as "composed" or "functioning".

Things had been going pretty well for a few weeks.  My mom visited and with her help I was able to do several projects on my TO DO LIST, that felt really good.  I took some great graduation photos and booked a portrait session with another family.  The budget was balanced, we even found some great deals at a consignment sale for Reagan.  I enjoyed a few days of vacation and even felt, dare I say, rested!  Even though the moment was short, I felt I had it somewhat together.  And thats when the sky started falling.

If you read my previous post you already know my poor jeep suffered considerable damage when a Loves gas station gave me diesel fuel instead of unleaded gas.  In case your wondering, that is bad... very, VERY bad.  It has been a nightmare, and now TWO WEEKS LATER things are actually getting worse.  The jeep is still a mess, despite two repairs, and has to go back into the shop for more work.  I haven't been able to drive it since May 1st.  Today, Loves finally followed up with my claim to say "We found no problems with the gas" and have refused to reimburse any repairs or take responsibility for the mistake.  Here's the thing: my mechanic who has no reason to lie (we already paid him) found conclusive evidence that the fuel was diesel and the damage that resulted was from that bad gas.  In fact he still has the gas in a barrel at his shop because he had to drain the gas tank!  And all the repairs we have had done on the jeep are indicative of the damage caused by diesel in a regular engine.  So Loves findings are puzzling, what in the world is going on?

I  had no choice but to file a claim with my insurance who will now visit the repair shop to confirm the damage and seek attribution from Loves.  (AKA - take them to court and fill out a load of paperwork)  Liberty Mutual is an awesome company if you are looking for insurance, because not only did they quickly help me but they also arranged for me to get a rental car today and will take care of the rest of the repair costs.  As long as the claim adjuster concludes the same thing the mechanic did (please Lord!), they will take care of the repairs, rental car, and reimburse us for the previous work.  With the exception of my  deductible, I have only lost my sanity during this process.  Lets just hope this all comes together because I am about to lose my mind.

A few nights ago, the jeep was parked in the driveway but it sounded like a bag of bolts to start, leaked diesel out the tailpipe and stalled when in idle.  Chet's new work evening schedule (AKA the bane of my existence) required him to work 2-midnight or 11-9pm so there was no way I could share a car with him while I work 8-5.  We had already paid hundreds of dollars to fix the jeep, and it wasn't fixed.  It had been two weeks of me driving the truck with Reagan and I hated taking risks like that when it comes to her safety.  We had no money for a rental, we had no idea how to fix the problem, and I had left 3 messages in 3 days without a word back from Loves.  To say the situation was stressful was an understatement.  I had no idea how to cover more bills, and no plan to remedy the situation.   I felt stuck, what was I supposed to do now?

I cried.
I prayed.
I lost my cool.  (Yes, in that order)

And now I am just waiting, stressing and sweating it out to see if the insurance agent will find the same results as the mechanic.  If not, all the repairs and the rental car will be my responsibility.  This is one of those times that you just have to trust God.  It's hard to give it all over to him, but I need to be able to find a way to do that.  I am trying to change the way I pray about the situation, I don't want to just ask for these problems to go away.  Instead I am asking for the strength to deal with them.

Lord, show me the best way to handle this situation.  Help change my anger to patience.  Help me behave in a way that you can be proud of even though this is hard and frustrating and desperately unfair.  Help me grow through this time of stress.  Help me find the way to better prepare my finances so I can move forward in my life.  Help keep me and my daughter safe, and help keep me open to learning and loving.  Help me find you in this process, show me your path.  If this is my burden, help me bear it in your name.  If this is my joy, help me celebrate it for you.   

I cannot expect perfection in my life, but I can pray for better ways to sleep at night during a time of trial.   I won't lie and say I am dealing well with this stress.  I AM NOT.  I get chest pains from the anxiety and tossed and turned last night not knowing what to do.  I could have wished for more money.  I could have cursed Loves.  I could have lashed out in anger and frustration.  But I didn't.  I cried and called my mom, and I took it all to the Lord.  This too shall pass...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Not All Gas Stations are Created Equal

This past week has been... interesting.  Two notable things have happened that are in such odd juxtaposition that I had to point it out. 

The first was the story I blogged about a few weeks ago (Stealing Gas) when I told the story about a local Conoco OnCue station that had accidentally programmed the pumps a dollar lower than intended.  I took the time to step into the store to notify the employees of the mistake.  I blogged about it because I wanted to talk about the importance of doing the right thing but I was also a little jilted for not being thanked for correcting the problem.  I forwarded my information to the Conoco corporate website along with a link to my blog post and shockingly heard back from them.  Not only did they read my message but they read my blog too!  Then they forwarded the message to the Regional Supervisor, Tommy Shreffler, who turns out to be a pretty wonderful guy.  He also read my blog and contacted me.  How amazing is that?  Not only did he thank me, but he told me that because I notified them of the error that morning, the pumps were only incorrect for about 15 minutes.  How cool is it that I likely saved them a bundle by catching the mistake right away!?!?  I feel really good about that and I am extremely impressed that there was feedback and communication with me.  When I sent the original message I really didn't think it would ever get any attention, just sent out into the black hole of some generic corporate email.  No one was happier than me to get a response, a thank you, and Tommy told me today he is sending me a gift card!  Me = jaw on the floor and a committed customer to the OnCue stations. 

The irony is last week as I headed out of town with my Mom I stopped at a Loves gas station in Guthrie to fill up.  I purchased gas and got on the highway to head to OKC for a visit to the consignment sale, lunch and then dropping mom off at the airport.  Everything seemed fine until I got to the city.  Suddenly the car started bucking and jumping and acting like it was about to stall.  My check engine light came on and I quickly found a place to pull off the busy street downtown.  It was a warm afternoon and since I had the baby with me, it became clear pretty quick that this was not good.  No AC, 60 miles from home, and stuck with Mom's flight scheduled to leave in less than 2 hours.  I called Chet and while he made arrangements with our Repair shop to use a trailer and got a friend's suburban to tow me home Mom, Reagan and I walked 3 blocks to the only restaurant near by to get out of the heat.  Mom then grabbed a cab so she didn't miss her flight and Reagan and I waited in a (somewhat shady) motel lobby till Chet made his way to us.  Thank goodness I had diapers and formula with me.  5 hours after the car died I was finally home, exhausted, hot and worried about the jeep. 

After a week of investigating the origin of the problem and trying to fix the damage our mechanic determined the fuel was diesel which had done all sorts of bad things to my engine.  I called the gas station but they told me they didn't have any problems with the gas, and didn't think my problems were from bad fuel.  So started my headache.  We paid the $380 repair bill and I called the Loves Headquarters to file an official claim for reimbursement.   So far I have talked with three people and it seems like they are willing to investigate the issue.  But for now, I am still out a bundle of cash and still driving Chet's truck because even though we have the jeep back, it is running very rough.  And it can't idle because of the sludge in the engine.  We have been told to run a few tanks of regular gas through it to finish flushing out the bad stuff and hopefully things will get better. Right now all I know is it sounds terrible, and Chet has been driving it.  You can't let it idle at a light so you have to put it into neutral and put your foot on the brake and the gas to keep it revved up.  Apparently Chet says I can't handle that, and honestly I really don't want to mess with it.  So, I've got good old red, Chet's Chevy truck. 

Let's take a minute to discuss Chet's lovely truck shall we?  I know all boys love their trucks, and surely that has to be true because love can be the only explanation for why he has had that beast for so long.  Don't get me wrong, I love that truck too, because it's paid off and runs.  Those are it's only redeeming qualities.  First there is no power locks or windows.  This has been annoying when you are lugging the baby, car seats, bags, diapers and bottles everywhere.  There is also the obvious safety issues to having a car seat in a single cab truck, with no air bags or safety features.  I am always worried about getting into a crash and not being able to protect Reagan, but this is the only vehicle we have so I pray and hope for the best.  In addition, the stereo face plate constantly pops off, and when the radio does work the speakers often go in and out.  Both doors are so old and rusty that you have to slam them closed to latch and fling your body against them to open.  I made the mistake of rolling down the window the other day, and then it was stuck.  Chet managed to muscle it back up and informed me the window was to remain up for now on.  It was an interesting day when I forgot about this and went to the bank drive thru only to have to get out of truck and stand next to the truck to drop off my check.  But best of all is the lingering smell in that truck.  It's a mix of gym socks and dirty butt, from years of a stinky boy farting into cloth seats on hot summer days.  Whats not to love about this truck?  201,000 miles and that truck is still going strong though. 

So on one hand I have been super impressed with Conoco, and on the other hand Loves has destroyed my Jeep.  Conoco = great customer service, Loves = 10 day (and counting) nightmare.  I find it kind of ironic that both of these incidents happened just a few weeks apart, what are the chances?  Lets hope that Loves takes care of the bill and steps up to admit a mistake, if so all will be forgiven.  As for Conoco, Reagan and I plan to stop in today for a cold drink and a tank of gas at the station on the corner of 51 and S Country Club.  Guess you know where I will be filling up for the rest of my life.  

So after a stressful, expensive week there is only one thing to help keep me sane.  It's my baby girls laughs.  I found her ticklish spot on her thighs and I abuse this information all the time.  I love those giggles!  Enjoy my own personal therapy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Extinguishing Anger

It's something I know all too well, being angry.  It's the emotion I have far too often and handle the worst.  I am a grudge holder, I fuel the flames and I am happily content to let the fire burn for months.  It's not good for anybody, especially me. 

And lately, I am angry a lot.  I stew on the fact that though I love being a mother, I find it terribly unfair that the brunt of child care falls to me.  In part, this is the reality of being a Mom.  Life as you know it before baby turns head over heels after you have a child.  My free time, disposable income, and the ability to pee alone disappears.  Becoming a mother means you give up a lot, but you gain a lot too.  I don't regret the work I do as Mom, but I despise the fact that my workload is so much more different compared to my  husband's role as Dad. 

On one hand, my husband's schedule and job just don't allow  him to take on certain responsibilities and tasks.   As a police officer's wife (LEOW) there are enormous effects his job has on our family life.  And yet, in addition to the limitations his job puts on him, the reality in my house is that all the inconviences, compromises, and and sacrifices are mine.  With rare exception, if it needs getting done, I am the one to do it.  I am the one to give, plan for it, find a way to work it out, and make it happen.  Me.  It's my joy/burden to bear.

From diapers to lost sleep, outings and errands, bill payments and shopping; that's all Mommy's job and then some.  I take sick leave for fevers, I change dirty diapers and wash dirty clothes.  I wipe 2 types of cheeks and give kisses to bumps.  My evenings are bath time, don't forget the bubbles and baby food, don't forget the bib.  Get out the toys and clean up the toys.  Buy the next size clothes but stay on budget.  Cook dinner and pack lunches, wash bottles and measure formula.  I do 90% of all the parenting alone and thats in addition to my full time job.  It can be a lot.  It can be stressful.  And it starts to make me a mad mommy when I think about all I do that my husband never even has to think about. 

I started to list all the things that I am mad about but the list was just too long.  And really to rant about those specifics is the opposite of what I want to do with this post.  I want to find a way to put away the anger, not by changing the situation because that is not an option, but by accepting the unfairness of it all and moving on.

And today that seems pretty freakin' impossible.

I know that I will be happier, more content, and start thriving when I can forget about the lopsided scales.   Sometimes this is just the way it goes, life is unfair.  I need to accept that.

But I am still mad.

I love being a Mom, even though its hard and all consuming, I wouldn't give it up for anything.  I knew it was going to be my responsibilty to do most of the child care before I had my daughter.  This didn't catch me off guard, I knew raising Reagan would be up to me most of the time.  But now that I am living life as a mom, and I realize how hard it actually is, I get mad thinking how much easier it is for my husband.

And thats where the problem lies.  This is my life.  This is the path I choose.  Yes, it's unfair.  Yes, it can be a hard burden to bear alone most of the time.  Yes, I have every right to be mad.  But that anger isn't helping, in fact it is hurting me and my family life. 

And my beautiful daughter is worth the trouble, energy and time it takes to be a (hopefully good) mom. 
But knowing all this, rationalizing the situation doesn't alleviate my anger.  It still feels like I should be angry.  It still feels unfair to ask not only for me to do so much more, but to accept that situation as well. 

It wouldn't be so bad if my husband really got it.  But he doesn't, and no amount of explaining or complaining will really help him fully understand.  I can not list the things I do and simply expect that to have an impact on him because it doesn't show the emotional and physical price you pay as well.   Reagan is fully into the separation anxiety stage, and though it is somewhat flattering to know I am her current favorite, I would also like to leave the room for one minute without a melt down from her. 

The truth is being mad isn't helping, and the reasons to be mad aren't changing.  Somehow, I have to be the one to change my attitude about it.  I have to accept that it's always going to be unfair and my life needs to find a way to deal with that reality and still have happiness instead of anger.

My husband's schedule is about to change again to working the evening shift, and I start to stress out just thinking about how enormously worse things will be when that happens.  I have a whole new appreciation for single moms (seriously, how do they do it?).   Even though I do a lot, I do still have help from my husband.  It may feel like I do it all but my husband does help and is there part of the time. It could be worse.  It could be much worse, in fact. 

It's my goal to find a way to extinguish my anger.  No matter how justified it is, it's not getting me anywhere and putting out those flames are the only thing I can control.  Though I have every right to be mad, that anger is hurting myself the most. So I'm praying, and I am practicing my deep breathing.  I can do this.  I can do it happily.  I can choose to feel differently about the situation.  I can accept things the way that they are because it will make me a better mom to stop keeping track of all I do and make me a better wife to stop evaluating the burden of parenthood.    I'm not there yet, but like Dory I am singing "Just keep swimming".