Feb 9, 2021 — Good news from last Friday: My youngest child’s driving permit acquired. Hallelujah, y’all!
Oh, but not without drama. Not without sweating. Not without a bit of anxiety-fueled high-pitched voices (mostly mine).
I even wrote in my journal that morning, “I bring my own weather” but even then, it was like landmines!!
In retrospect, it wasn’t THAT BAD, but when you’ve been burned in the past (badly and repeatedly), you don’t really want to willingly touch that stove again! No matter what! But when your child needs to learn to drive…as mothers, we walk on coals for our babies. It’s because we are mothers.
The other day, I remembered something I did way back in August of 2005. Something that was foretelling of the CALM Method before it was even a thing!
We have 3 amazing boys, you may or may not know, and August 2005 brought “the first day of Kindergarten” for our first-born. So, if you do the math, you’ll realize that in August of 2005, I had:
5 1/2 year old,
a 2 year old,
and an 8 month old!
Did I mention they are all boys? Exactly.
And to make it way more fun, my hubby was traveling a lot, soooooo when I realized that he would NOT BE IN TOWN for the 1st day of Kindergarten, I was pre-stressed, pre-overwhelmed, and easily getting panicked in real time.
Objective: get Colin to school, 3 blocks away, by 7:30am on the first day of school.
This was a “no failure” task. My baby was going to school!! A huge day for the Laniers! I still remember whisps of my first day of Kindergarten, which blows my mind.
Faced with this dilemma, what did I do?
School started on a Thursday, if memory serves, so, on the WEDNESDAY, we did a full trial run! We set alarms, we got up, dressed, ate breakfast, put on the tiny Kindergarten-sized backpack, and trooped up to the school and arrived there on time and ready, albeit 24-hrs early.
Check! We’ve got this, Team!
How smoothly did the actual 1st day of school go? (ok, since I usually entertain you with disasters about my hair-on-fire moments, I bet you aren’t expecting this)
Quite well! Hallelujah!! YAY MOM! YAY KIDDOS!!
I know I slept better the night before because I’d already proven to myself that we could do it! And we did.
We (even ME!) were tons more CALM, I tell you! I don’t remember specifics about how it played out, but that trial run, the dress rehearsal, the practice run of wrangling-3-boys-under-the-age-of-6 out the door and off to school all by myself, was KEY! The key to CALM.
Why was it successful? We had done it once, when it wasn’t “for real” and we could get our sea legs!
I’m so retroactively proud of myself for taking that action!
That is what the CALM Method does for you, in endless situations, because it encourages/requires you to get ready BEFORE the inevitable CHAOS.
Back to the drivers license office visit of last week. We had our appointment. I had ALL the documents. I had a method of payment. I had extra documents I never thought I’d need but just for comfort I brought them, because you can’t go home and get stuff and come right back, you know.
Well, THANK GAWD I “threw in” some extra documents like the car registration, which I’m sure you don’t need until the actual driving test day. But thank you, intuition…you’ve got my back (when I listen!).
I was a mental wreck! And pile on cold and rainy weather, too.
All the things were seeming to go wrong. We couldn’t figure out how to check in online, even though we had the appointment confirmation email. We tried calling. Nothing was working.
We plowed on, planning to just check in on site. Luckily we were not running late, so my head was still attached to my body (at that point)!
We arrived. We parked. We approached the building.
I carry water with me everywhere, especially since no one would dare use a water fountain in a public place these days…but you CANNOT bring water into the drivers license office.
Even if you say, “But it’s JUST water!” They still don’t let you.
So I was already striking out before we had even entered the building.
Waiting room, all good. Wait for our number: A047.
“Now serving A-47 at #14” the robot intercom calls.
We head over, and present ourselves to the employee that holds all our hopes and dreams in her rubber stamper and dead eyes.
“Did you fill out the application?”
Lawd. Already behind. Ok, it’s okay. She gives us one and Dillon fills it out (yay, good life experience) and all is fine…
“May I see your license and all documents?”
Ooooooohhhhhh, yes ma’am, I’ve got it all: VOE (proof of enrollment in school), Aceable driving school certificate, proof of residence, on and on.
We are killing it!!
“This utility bill is under Ryan but YOU are Helen.”
Can one immediately have diarrhea just from hearing one statement? Luckily, I didn’t have that exact reaction, but I’m telling you there was no “inside voice” to be used in this situation.
Funny (not funny!) back story: my parents named me “Helen Ryan Leary” but I’ve always been called “Ryan” so every single first day of school (or when we had a sub) I was called Helen, followed by my having to speak up and say, “I go by Ryan”. A million times repeated by now.
Well, this woman employed by the Texas DMV wasn’t extrapolating (or wasn’t willing to?) that “Helen Ryan Lanier” was in fact “Ryan Lanier” on the City of Austin utility bill statement, even though she had my drivers license ON HER DESK saying so. “Ryan is Helen. Helen is Ryan. I am Helen and Ryan Lanier!”
Volume not low. Voice not CALM. (blood pressure rising…)
Being that I was STANDING with my head above all the cubicles (there was only a chair for one person per cubicle…why???) my voice, now loud, becoming less and less in control…was permeating quickly across the whole area of 20 or so cubicles, filled with other anxious people.
The woman had the pretense of being sooooo accommodating and placating: “Ma’am, do you have your car insurance maybe? There’s ALWAYS a solution.” What a fat lie!!
Has anyone ever walked out of the DMV, ready to give a 5-star review saying, “oh, so accommodating in there! They always help you FIND A SOLUTION.”
Said NO ONE EVER!
NEVER. (Oops, I’m not using my inside voice…)
Well, remember those “extra papers I’ll surely never need but just in case I’ll bring”??? Thank God, SOMEWHERE in there, she found something that said enough that Ryan was Helen and Helen was Ryan.
I was literally as silent as I could be for the rest of the appointment. Not looking at her.
It’s possible that I held my breathe the whole time.
Even when he was having his actual picture made, even when I was swiping the credit card to pay the actual $14 to get this treasured document, I was still on edge.
PTSD: Pretty Trying Situation Disorder.
But…he got it. We got it. We got our lives back!
By the skin of our teeth.
“You are Helen.”
So, moral of the story is to BRING EVERYTHING. And then more.
You’d rather not need it than not have it.
CALM was pretty elusive that Friday in the drivers license office, but we survived and I get the last laugh by sharing the whole story with the whole internet.
I am Helen and I am Ryan. Hear me roar:)