When I heard the word, I used to think of it as a negative thing.
I remember driving my car to see a developmental therapy client. It was snowing; all the surrounding school districts closed their doors for the day, but I, Ginger Newingham the dedicated developmental therapist I was, had children to see.
I was going to drive my tiny Volkswagen Jetta through the snow to see my clients. And I was going to drive my normal route to get there.
You know, all backroads. Through the country.
You can probably see where this is headed.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t see at all where I was headed until the nose of my car was deep in a snow bank.
I was stuck.
I was a million months pregnant. Or, at least I felt like it.
It was May, and my ankles were the size of bean bags. I was outside with my very busy Bulgarian because if we sat inside, I just might pass out from exhaustion. Nasko requested a ball while we were playing. I left him in the driveway and walked into the garage to retrieve his favorite green kickball.
Our truck was parked in the garage, and I noticed it was rather close to a shelf. Never mind, I was on a mission. The kickball needed retrieving.
I waddled my way towards the bin of balls, when all of a sudden I realized my feet were moving, but my mid-section was not.
My stomach was pinned between the shelf and the obviously too-close truck.
I was stuck.
But it was such a great deal! I purchased a car I could not yet drive.
In college, I found an adorable silver Saturn Ion. It got, like, 4,500 miles to the gallon, partially because it was a stick shift.
It was a very practical purchase, you know, because I knew how to drive a stick shift and all. Oh wait, no. I didn’t.
Chance promised to teach me to drive a manual transmission. We were dating, and I’m pretty sure he was just looking for any excuse to spend more time with me. And potentially get to make out.
I was not an easy study (in driving a stick shift. I did fine with the kissing, thankyouverymuch.)
It took me over a month to learn to drive that car. And even when I was finally forced to drive it without Chance (I had to take a friend to the ER), I drove 20 miles per hour and killed it four times trying to get across the flatlands of Lincoln, IL.
One weekend, we drove the car back to my parent’s house. They lived less than two hours from my college campus, but the terrain is entirely different. My hometown has hills. Hills!
My prayer life was at its peak during this time of my life, as I prayed my way through every intersection and stoplight. I asked for God’s favor as I struggled to go from stationary to moving without causing the vehicle to die.
But God’s favor (seemingly) was not on me at one particular intersection. It was the steepest hill in town, and I was forced to stop. I panicked as we sat through the red light, but Chance calmly reviewed the last thirty days of our lessons.
The light turned green. I took a deep breath, rolled forward a bit, and killed it.
I restarted the car, moved forward a bit more, and killed it again. This happened two more times before I was successfully parked in the middle of the intersection when the light turned red again.
I was stuck.
I really can’t think of a time when being stuck was a good experience. Usually, my own dumb ideas have gotten me into that place.
But for Nasko, the word “stuck” has become a reassurance.
Because of his diagnoses and/or his traumatic past, Nasko has the tendency to obsess. He asks the same questions over and over and over, even if the answer never changes. He seeks the reassurance of the familiar.
I, on the other hand, get a little worn out. I seek the quiet of hearing myself think.
Nasko often asks if Chance or I will be staying home with him. That day? All day? All evening? All night? Stay home?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Yes, Nasko. I’m staying home.
You are stuck with me.
I always say that with conviction so he might stop asking me the same questions on repeat. He hears the conviction and gains security.
Nasko loves to know that I will always be his parent. He wants to be told that I am his forever mama who will always love him and care for him.
Even after I’ve answered Nasko’s barrage of questions, he specifically asks me to repeat the answer, “Nasko, you are stuck with me.”
And it’s true. For once in my life, I can say these words and know that it’s a good thing – for him and for me:
I am stuck.