When my two eldest children were babies, I left them in the car while I ran into the pharmacy to drop off a prescription. Scott was sick, and asleep in his car seat. Jamie was playing with her toys. It was a matter of running in, dropping it off, and running out. Thirty seconds, maybe forty-five, tops.
What an idiot.
Somehow, Scott woke up, managed to get out of his carseat, take off the emergency brake (which entailed intricate maneuvers no two-year-old should have been able to accomplish) and put the car (1965 Mercury Comet Caliente) into neutral. I came rushing out of the pharmacy to find my car no longer in the space right there at the door, but rolling downhill through the parking lot, and toward the Cedar Hill exit ramp of Route 208.
I ran after the car, yelling to the kids, “Get on the floor!” Somehow, I managed to grab the driver’s side door handle, and I started pulling. “Pleasepleaseplease.” I can still feel those words crunching in my mouth. I pulled and I hauled and I planted my feet on the asphalt and pulled even harder. Just as the car’s nose rolled into that exit ramp, I managed to pull it to a halt. Cars honked. Drivers cursed at me. My pants were around my knees because they’d fallen down while I did my impression of the Incredible Hulk, but I yanked open the door, and pulled my babies into my arms, and I sobbed.
I am a woman, born in 1964. I’ve been undervalued, overlooked, and marginalized my entire life. I didn’t march in protests. I didn’t climb a corporate ladder and crash through any glass ceilings. But I did raise four amazing humans in a society that didn’t necessarily value motherhood, even if it pretended to. I fought for, and earned my literary dreams. I overcame my own demons to adopt my motto, “Modesty is for suckers.” I survived losing a husband, a son, and still I am everything I ever wanted to be, and then some.
I am a gentle human, but I am fierce. More than fierce. I’m a beast.