Traveling home from Kansas City to Georgia last night, my family and I almost lost our lives. As I drove my van, loaded down with 9 of my children, a car from the northbound side of the interstate lost control, crossed the median, was launched into the air slightly, and then slid across all of the southbound lanes finally stopping when it hit into a guard rail. Had I been two seconds faster, the car would have launched itself into the side of my van more than likely killing some of us depending on where it actually hit. Instead I watched in horror as the car slid directly in front of me.
As the car slid in front of us, the RV next to us that was also towing a trailer slammed on its breaks, the tires spewing black smoke into the rapidly darkening night. The man driving struggled to gain control of his vehicle and his trailer. I thought his RV might actually tip over. He began to slide across the lanes and into mine. As his trailer almost slammed into the passenger side of my van, I tried to keep my calm and to maintain control over my own vehicle. Thankfully I was in the fast lane so I could swerve without affecting anyone else. I dodged his car and kept moving forward.
As others slowed down and stopped to help the person in the wrecked vehicle, I called for emergency help. I gave them the information they needed, still trying to keep myself calm. It was hard not to let my voice crack and waiver. They dispatched someone immediately and as we continued on our way we passed the police officers who were speeding from the other directions to help.
Those of us in the front of the car who witnessed the wreck and who could understand what almost happened were visibly shaken. It took everything in me not to cry. Still, in the now dark car, tears silently slid down my cheeks as I prayed in thanksgiving for the safety of my family and as I prayed for whomever was in that wreck to make it through. I would spend much of the rest of the trip thinking about how precious life with our family truly is and how quickly it can be taken from us.
Our brush with death last night made me think about how much I fail at cherishing my children. I thought about all the times I put other things ahead of them and I cringed at what I was missing out on. How many times have I turned down a little one to sit and watch a movie or to play because I “need” to do something else? How often do I shoo kids to bed as quickly as possible so I can “get things done” only to sit on the computer and Facebook my night away? How often do I refuse to take kids to the store with me because I want “me time” but they simply want “mama time” with me? I imagine I could continue to write and write about all the ways I don’t cherish my sweet babes but it makes me sad to think about it.
When I first had children, people told me that my time with them would go too fast and to cherish it. I believed them and I readily drank in every single moment of their lives. But as time as marched on, as I have added more children into the mix, as life has become more pressing and busier than ever, I find that I drink less often from the fountain of youth that used to be my mainstay. Instead I allow myself to be overwhelmed with obligations to others instead of to my family; I give in to stress and yell instead of snuggle; I look for ways to escape instead of ways to enjoy; and I miss out on parts of their lives because I’m simply looking the other way or at other things.
I think about what I could have lost last night and my heart is so thankful that God saw fit to allow us to stay safe. In the blink of an eye, one or all of my children could be taken from my arms. I shudder to even think the thought! Our lives could have changed so dramatically last night. Really though, the experience still can change our lives. As I look on what I almost lost I know that I don’t want to lose another second of my time with my kids. I don’t want to blink and it all be gone. I want to live for today enjoying every moment that I can with my children.
A few weeks ago I let the kids run in the rain. I took pictures. Next time I’m going to run in the rain with them. When they want to help me cook supper, instead of saying, “not tonight” I will instead hand them a spoon and pull up a chair so that they can help (even if it would be easier to do it on my own). I’m going to put aside the cleaning and I’m going to play. I’m going to tell other people no and my own children yes.
When my children look back on their lives I hope they will see me as involved, attentive, and loving. I would hate if instead they looked back and thought I gave more to everyone else than I gave to them.
I have written about motherhood and how difficult a job it can be. I have written before that I often fail when I want to succeed so badly. There is no rule book or manual for parenting… we all just kind of wing it. In theory we do the best we can. I think we all struggle at times to do the best we can and sometimes even settle for “good enough”. I know I do anyway and I want to change that.
I don’t want to be “Supermom” but I do want to do it right. After all, parenting is our most important job! It doesn’t take making picture perfect crafts from Pinterest or baking from scratch or keeping a spotless house with dinner on the table at 6 pm each night to be a good mom. It does take dedication, desire, and love though.
It shouldn’t take a brush with death to remind us to live. Don’t let another day go by without making new memories with your children. The old adage that it goes too fast is true. I only have to look at my grown children to know that this is right! They were just babies yesterday and yet today they are grown… their childhoods now a memory tucked safely away in my mind. Take advantage of each new day to cherish them for the amazing people they truly are!
Life is precious and it goes by so fast. It can be taken from us in the blink of an eye and when we least expect it. Turn off your computer, set down your phone; tell the world that you are busy with your children and you can’t be bothered. Enjoy the moments you have together. Make memories and remember them often. Laugh. Play. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Bake. Color. Slow down and just enjoy the time you are blessed with. These are the occasions that mean the most and that will help to form not only your child’s life but your own as well.
If you happen to need me and wonder where I am, know that I am with my children and we are living and laughing and loving to the best of our ability.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.