Dissection of a Hump

{This is an article I wrote for the July issue of our quarterly newsletter}:

There really are days like this. You’re cruising along in the cool comfort of your car, viewing the trees, the grass, eveything green outside the window, music playing in your ears, the wide expanse of the road ahead full of freedom and promise… and then BAM! You hit a hump on the road.

I’ve had a crazy week so far. Well, crazier than it normally gets for stay-at-home moms who are tasked with running the household and generally keeping everything going smoothly enough so that nothing seems out of the ordinary and everything passes unnoticed.

Frankly, I’m used to having a lot of things on my plate. In fact, I crave work. I love being busy. Multi-tasking is my middle name. I have a hard time relating to the statement “I have nothing to do” simply because I think there is more than enough that can and should be done, if we only look hard enough. My kids know that the statement “I’m bored” is taboo in our home. For me, a day well spent is one that makes you feel like a squeezed lemon at nighttime. So I’m used to being in situations that others may classify under their Stressful Days list.

But this week was different. Deadlines for different unrelated things started pouring in, requirements from a take-for-pleasure course started demanding attention, three of my babies contracted that awful cough-and-fever virus that’s been spreading because of the shift in weather. To top it all, I had to learn a new method of juggling now that summer has ended and bringing children to and from school has inserted itself in the daily t0-d0 list once again.

This week, my dear friends, was my hump.

When I was a kid, I loved humps. Especially as I rode my bicycle up and down them, with the breeze flapping at my hair and a smile plastered on my face. Growing up, I had an enlightened moment when I realized humps were actually placed there, not for the enjoyment of wheel-riding kids, not because the people fixing the road found a humorous way of putting extra cement to good use, but for an actual purpose.

Humps are meant to slow down speeding cars, making roads safer for both pedestrians as well as drivers. In the areas where speeding roadsters love to converge, humps tell them to stop or risk damage to the under-chassis of their beloved cars. And if one observes closely, then one will notice that effective humps are of certain heights and spaced at deliberate intervals: certainly, one abruptly tall hump a few feet from the next would make one feel as though they hopped on a rickety roller coaster instead of a car.

So what’s this got to do with my crazy week? The sudden realization: there are humps in life too! Sometimes, when things are going so smoothly and the cruising is on auto-pilot, we find ourselves in such a satiated state, in such comfy surroundings, that it’s easy to doze off at the wheel. It’s easy to take things for granted. Then the stressful moment arrives (and each one of us has his own version of this), and we stop and sigh and throw our hands up in despair. Ah. The hump.

It forces you to stop and think. And that, I did. What is the purpose of this particular hump at this particular time? Why should things just suddenly come crashing down in torrents, each calling my name, each demanding my full attention all at the same time?

The answer came (as it funnily often does) from a homily at Mass. In essence, what the priest said was: when you feel like you’re being overpowered by all the daily concerns of this life, stop and pray, talk to Him, and you will see that everything will work out for the best, according to God’s plan. Everything is an opportunity to bring you closer to heaven.

Aha! Suddenly it became clear to me. Maybe I was starting to cruise along. Perhaps I was beginning to fall asleep on the wheel. And because I sit as co-pilot right up front with my husband at the wheel of the car and a load of five kids in the seats behind us, I have to make sure I am always fully awake in life, fully taking advantage of each opportunity to serve even more, fully aware that my kids will learn how to drive through life by my example. So I got down on my knees and had that talk with Him. And you know what? He got everything sorted out, right away! Hooray!

Which brings me to this conclusion. Humps? They’re actually a great thing. Ahhh. Now, to drive again in peace.

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