I don't want to say this out loud: I got another speeding ticket yesterday.
"Aren't you the girl who just got a speeding ticket, like a month ago?"
Yes. I am that girl.
Seriously. I know.
Please don't remind me how irresponsible this is, how my insurance is likely to go up, that it's another two points on my license, that it must be nice to have such money to throw away (which it isn't, and which I don't), and that I have single-handedly boosted the county's economy with my recklessness.
Please. Don't. I know.
The thing is, I didn't set out to speed. Who does? Some people do. Some people are reckless on purpose, without mind for the people on the road or the little ones buckled in the backseat. But that just wasn't me. Hopefully not ever, but certainly not yesterday.
I was happy. Even the Starbucks employee complimented me on my cheerfulness. I was in a good mood, toodling along in the minivan, jammin' to the iPod, singing my heart out, and praying as I drove. Until I suddenly saw those swirling red and blue gumballs in my rearview mirror. I was so unaware of my offense that I thought perhaps he needed to get around me. Maybe he just wanted me out of the way. No dice. I was the target.
I will spare you the details, because they are not fun, interesting, or affirming. And I aim for my writing to be characterized by at least one of the above. But suffice it to say: I owe the county an exhorbitant amount of money. $157.00, to be precise.
I cried. Not in an attempt to be manipulative, since I wasn't trying to coax him with my feminine, emotional wiles. I would not have been disappointed if he had been so inclined or overwhelmed by grace, but there was no grace involved. He even said, "Ma'am, I wish I could overlook it, but 16 over is just too much." Fair enough.
I cried out of pure, utter sadness. It's just not what I wanted for my day.
I could only cry. A lot.
Even after the policeman handed me my 'documents,' explained the process (which I am all too familiar with), and released me from my captivity at the side of the road, I still sat for a while, gathering myself, and crying more.
My children do not often see me this state of disrepair, and there was no getting around this observation. Right there, in the front seat: Look at mommy.
They talked amongst themselves.
Tyler: "What's wrong with Mommy?"
Tucker: "She's sad."
Tyler: "Why is Mommy crying?"
Tucker: "Because she drove so fast until she cried." Which wasn't far from the truth.
The conversations continued throughout the day.
When Tyler saw my mom, he said, "Mommy was so sad today."
(Thankfully, I had already told her. And more thankfully, she no longer feels compelled to parent me through choices and consequences. We wrapped that up years ago. She was just bummed, right alongside me. That's what friends do.)
"Yeah? Why was Mommy so sad?"
"She needs to take a nap today," which also was not far from the truth, and it is the remedy Tyler often hears when he cannot get his own emotional act together: Excessive Crying = Encroaching Naptime.
"Do you want to pray for her?"
"Yes. Dear Jesus, thank you... for... food." Which is what you say when you are two and new to praying. I'm pretty confident that God can read past the umbrella terms involved in such early prayers.
At naptime, I decided to utilize my rough morning as an object lesson for my little man who is learning the relationship between choices and consequences.
I said, "Tucker, everybody has rules to follow - even me. But today, I broke a rule. I drove too fast, and now I have to pay a lot of money to show the police that I learned my lesson. Can you forgive me for driving too fast?"
Tucker climbed into my lap, held my cheeks in his hands, put his nose against mine, and whispered, "Mommy, read my book."
Sure enough. Enough with the moping and the morals to the stories. Enough. Time to read.
Today has gone better than yesterday. For example, I haven't accrued any further points on my license, and I have not received any fruitless bills to pay. I have, however, annoyed other drivers by candidating for Citizen of the Year and driving just under the speed limit.
So, if you see me around town, with the windows down, the sunroof open, and the music blaring, please know: I'm trying to drive slowly. With a happy heart.