Stuck in an elevator

I was having a grumpy day today.  No particular reason — I’d been feeling lethargic all day, even though I have a long list of things to do, and that combination wasn’t putting me in a good mood.  Then, this afternoon, Liam refused to take a nap, meaning I got to spend 2 hours trying to keep him quiet enough to let Benjamin nap — not an easy task, since he seems to want to turn every toy in the house into a percussion instrument of some kind, and he’s also in a major phase of not wanting to be restrained — kicking, flailing, throwing his head around, scratching.  A charming way to spend a few hours on a day when I already was in an unpleasant mood.

Late this afternoon, I was feeling a little frazzled, and decided that getting out of the house and going for a walk would be just the thing to get my mind back in the right place — besides, Liam would be confined to the stroller, so it would, at least, be the first break I’d get from wrestling him today.  It was a good idea, but the process of getting myself and both boys ready to go nearly sent me over the edge.  I was literally growling at both of them by the time I got Liam strapped into the stroller and Benjamin’s shoes velcroed onto his feet.

But, at last, we were out the door, in the elevator, on our way out.  As we descended, I breathed a sigh of relief in anticipation of my refreshing walk.  And then, we stopped.  The elevator stopped, which is great (beats the alternative) but then the doors didn’t open.  Uh-oh.  I pressed the ground floor button, I pressed the door open button.  I pressed every button the elevator has . . . repeatedly.  Nothing.

Much as this might seem to be a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment, it really wasn’t.  The second I was confronted with something ACTUALLY being wrong (as opposed to my general grumpiness, which wasn’t brought on by anything) everything got better.  In the moment that I realized we were stuck, I became focused on taking care of my kids — I became a mom, instead of a grumpy, tired, put upon 35 year old.

Benjamin started out ok, but got progressively more anxious in the moments after figuring out that not all was well.  (Liam seemed fine for the duration.)  Benjamin offered several helpful suggestions (for example, “Just push the buttons, Mommy”) and when I explained that I’d already tried that and it wasn’t working, he started to get upset and cry.

I sent Dan a text to let him know what was going on, I set up my phone for Benjamin to play a game, and I waited.  I waved at Liam, I smiled at Benjamin, I watched him play his game.  Dan took care of getting the building caretaker on the phone and over to us (impressive, as this man speaks not a word of English) and he, in turn, took care of getting us out in pretty short order.  (There was a slightly stressful moment where I guess he turned the power off, because it got VERY dark — I think he tried to warn us what he was doing, but I didn’t understand, so the complete darkness came as a surprise.)

We were in there for less than 10 minutes.  Although it ostensibly seems like it should have been the most stressful part of my day, it was actually the best thing that could have happened to me.  It completely got me out of my bad mood — reset my mind and got me thinking about what was really important.  We went on a lovely walk, and even Benjamin (who is very sensitive to stress) had a pleasant evening with no ill effects (he even suggested we try the elevator on the way home, which surprised me).

Being stuck in an elevator with my two kids saved my day.  I would never have asked to add that to my experiences of the day, but it turns out it was just what I needed.  It’s funny how often that happens.

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