Monday, October 13, 2014

Proven guilty.

This is a long, seemingly pointless post but I have to get it off my chest.

Yesterday I was driving my husband's big ol' purple Explorer to go pick up a bunk bed I found on Craigslist for $65. Great find, the frame was in good shape, it was simple and met all of my requirements in a bunk bed. 
I pulled up, chatted with the seller and got some back story on the bed and its previous owner and we loaded it up. After it had been loaded up and we were saying goodbye she said, "Oh, I forgot to mention, it doesn't have any of the screws so you'll need to buy those."!!
I asked her what kind of screws I need to look for, how many, etc. She tells me and my immediate response is to kindly say, "Oh...ok, thank you for letting me know" which was said in an odd tone as my friendliness dwindled into a tone of uncertainty. 

What just happened...did I just get swindled??

I'm driving home mad at myself, thinking about how many screws I need, how much it's going to cost, how hard it's going to be to put this bed together now and how I'm going to tell my husband that we now need to spend money on hardware that should have been included but I was too dumb to even think to make sure it was there. 

I call him to see if he's home from the store yet and to gauge whether it's a good time to tell him I'm going to the hardware store on the way home. Every bump, every turn and every stop was making all of the pieces of the bed knock around in the back and as I approached a yellow light I cruised through so I wouldn't have to slam on the breaks and potentially hurl the pieces in the back around further. I went through the intersection and as I went under the light I saw it turn red above me. 

I continue to talk to my husband when I see a police car turn on their lights and U turn in the busy street to pull me over. 

Oh, wonderful. Just wonderful. 

I pull over and fumble around for all of the paperwork I'll need. I always get jittery and flustered in moments like this. The officer comes to the window and I hand him my license and registration. He says, "I suspect you know why I pulled you over." I truly didn't. I wasn't speeding, if my tail light was out then I wouldn't necessarily be aware of that, I got through the intersection before the light turned red. I told him I actually didn't and he lowered his face and looked at me with his brows furrowed.

"You ran through that red light back there."
I don't say anything at first but I know for sure I did not run a red light. He sees me start to say something and hesitate, so he's waiting for me to say something. I get my nerve up and then tell him I continued through because it was yellow and I didn't want to slam on my brakes. He then shuts me down saying, "It was clearly red when you approached the intersection."

Wow. No, it wasn't. And really? I'm not being argumentative, I'm calmly telling you what happened. 

He sees something on my registration that I have to clarify about, I don't remember what because I was still trying to decide if I should keep defending myself or if I should let it go. I mention one more time that I really only continued to go through the intersection because the light was yellow, it wasn't red until I got through. He narrows his eyes and says, "You basically overshot it."
Did I just piss off an officer? Does he just think I was being careless and drove through a red light? Does he think I'm making things up just to get away with it?? 

He asks why I'm driving this vehicle, but he says it in a tone like whatever I'm going to say is not going to be believable. I tell him it's my husband's car. 
"Who is your husband?"
"Then why is Matthew on here?"
I look at what he's referring to and he's pointing at our friend Ryan's name who my husband shared the car with. I explain that, and that his middle name is Matthew and he just looks at me. Then he asks for the title. I give it to him and he says, "Why is your husband's name not on this?"

"I...I don't know. I have no idea."

"It says here this car was given as a gift. Your husband didn't sign it. This is an open title which is illegal." He says this all in an "I should have known this" kind of tone and pauses, waiting for me to say something.

"Oh...oh, I thought he did sign it...I thought I remembered him saying he took care of this paperwork. I'm sorry. I don't know anything about this." 
He looks at the papers, looks at me and then says he'll be back.

I hear more sirens and I truly think he's calling for backup and I'm going to jail. 

I start to shake. I can't believe he's talking to me like I'm lying. I can't believe he's talking to me like I'm stupid. I feel stupid, I don't know anything about this title situation, I just know I want to get my girl's bunk bed home. 

He comes back with a ticket. A $220 ticket for running a red light and a license violation. He's saying stuff and I'm hardly listening because I can't believe that number. 
He says "Drive safely."
"You too."


I pull back into the street, wait at the next yellow light, text Palmer the bad news and cry. I lose my shit. This $65 bargain trip has ended up costing $300. Plus hardware. 

 I pull into the driveway and get my crap together. Wipe away the mascara, take deep breaths, it'll be fine. I see my husband's face and he smiles, totally un-phased by everything that's happened in the last 30 minutes and I lose my crap again. He's understanding, he's sorry for not having the title done, he's assuring and everything will be fine. He compliments the bed. I cry and tell him how sorry I am, how the officer treated me like I was a criminal, treated me like I was a liar, talked to me like I was foolish. I try to get a hold of myself because the girls are around now and it's unsettling to see me crying so much. We get inside, we talk cheerfully about the bed, I go to the bathroom to, ya know, take care of that, and I start crying again. Just stupid sobbing. Palmer comes in and rubs my back. I'm telling him how unfair I felt everything was. Yes, I probably did break a rule. But I felt the cost was steep, the officer a d-bag and I feel like if anyone is going to get caught and in trouble for something - it's me. It was one more unfair thing thrown onto an increasingly tall pile of tough, unfair things. 

But then another realization hits me. I'm sitting there in the bathroom, compromised, crying my eyes out over a ticket and a mean cop and his mean tone and thinking about everything that led up to this moment. What led to this moment? The fact that we wanted the kids to have a bunk bed. Why did she need a bunk bed now? Because she's in a toddler bed that she outgrew almost a year ago. And because the frame is broken which makes it slope to the right and the mattress is paper thin and torn and it pained me to see her sleeping in it anymore. 

It was guilt. 

Guilt that my little girl doesn't have the bed I think she deserves. Does she need a new bed, sure, eventually. Does she need a new bed? No. I know kids who had NO bed- zero beds- for part of their lives. My kids have beds. And hers was a really nice one her grandparents bought her when she was born. Why is it not good enough? Why am I pained with guilt every bedtime? Because I feel her discomfort. And I want my kids comfortable. We all do, right? 

But where is the line between providing comfort and breeding entitlement? 

I was feeling guilt so heavy that I compulsively searched for bunk beds and couldn't let her sleep in her old bed any longer. The $65 I used for the bed was my birthday money I was going to use for a second bra (I know, TMI and totally lame). In the list of priorities, things like bras and makeup and clothes for myself get knocked down lower and quicker as my kids get older. 

Earlier in the week I had come across a list of "9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids" and, though I normally skip over lists like this because it ends up just being noise, I read this one. It was tremendous. It spoke to me deeply. Everything on that list is something we live by or I'm struggling to live by. We've got rid of three trash bags full of toys since this last spring because we're purging "stuff" and let me say, I can fully attest that they are absolutely not missing any toys and the lack of clutter has made everyone happier. We try hard to explain the value of money and be honest about what mommy and daddy can afford because we can't buy everything. And won't. But since the day Bella was born I struggle with guilt. Guilt driving me to overspend, to make her comfortable, to help her flourish.

It's not healthy for any of us and that moment on the toilet thinking about the bunk beds that ended up costing me over $300 was enough to help me realize it was enough. The bed was a good find, really, and they are going to thoroughly love and enjoy it. It's something she needed sooner rather than later and she'll be comfortable. 

But I have got to work on not letting guilt drive me to provide anything anymore. 
And I have got to buy another bra.