Life is filled with problems and challenges. So I wonder, what’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Nuclear bomb? Too extreme? How about leaving your home and moving to Ecuador? Hahaha, got you on that one.
How about getting back home from a four-hour trip from the coast and finding out at 6 p.m. on a school night that your water heater is broken? Well, this is what happened to me and the story of how my new family came to my rescue.
Don’t think I didn’t plan. I’m a fairly organized person. I have a tight schedule and understand how my daughter will be affected if she doesn’t go to bed on time or misses her nap. As a single mom, it’s important that I stick to a plan and I get really frustrated when I can’t. Let me explain.
I wanted to take a few days off to be with my wonderful daughter before she started the new school year. We went to the beach and had a great time. On our return trip to Cuenca I made my plan to give her a bath, dinner and get her to bed early since school started the next morning.
When we arrived home, my first job was to fill the tub for the bath and, horror or horrors, there was only cold water. I checked the batteries and still, nothing but cold water. In an instant, the relaxed vacation-by-the-beach feeling was gone. I got desperate. It was late and there was my child watching tv, waiting for me to say “let’s go to the tub.”
I looked at the clock and it was almost dinner time and she’s not bathed. I try not to panic and went to the kitchen, make dinner and there I am thinking to myself, “What do I do?” And then I think, maybe I can heat some water on the stove and fill the tub, I can give her a quick bath and then tomorrow, I’ll call the guy so he can fix the water heater. I took a look at my pots and they are all small so I take out the four that I have, fill each of them with water and put them on the stove. While my daughter is eating dinner, she sees me go back and forth to the bathroom. After 20 minutes of this, the tub is nowhere near to being filled and it’s almost bed time.
I was frustrated and frantic. I thought to myself, I HAVE TO “DO SOMETHING ELSE!!” There I was in the kitchen and the tears started coming. “Pull it together” I said to myself. There were no family or friends to ask for a shower. I sit there in the kitchen counter sobbing. When my daughter comes in and says, “Mommy, are we gonna take a bath? I’m tired and wanna go to bed” I realized I had to pull it together and act. I was being tested as a mom and as a person.
Then I thought about my idea of “family building.” I thought of my neighbors. So, with tears of frustration still in my eyes, I went downstairs and ring her neighbor’s door bell. When she opens the door, I say “Hi neighbor, I know it’s late and it’s a horrible inconvenience, but I can I please borrow your shower?” She sees my panic an says yes, of course, and gives me a big hug. She says, “I know it’s frustrating. “Todo estará bien. Bring your daughter and take the time that you need.”
That was exactly what I needed. A hug and a new friend. After I bathed my daughter, my neighbor even gave me a glass of wine “to go” and gave my baby a piece of candy. You have no idea how thankful I was that this wonderful woman lived in my building.
To continue with the story, the water heater repair guy told me it would take a couple of days to get the part for the repair. So I asked other neighbors if I could borrow their shower — I was too ashamed to ask the first neighbor again. They said yes and I found help again, and new friends.
I realized I was not alone anymore. My neighbors are my heroes. They helped me to be a good mom and to take care of my child’s needs. I wish I could do something big for them in return. Most important, I have a new family, people to chat with, to help bring the groceries in, to offer my daughter a cookie.
So this is a story dedicated to my wonderful neighbors, all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me in my time of need. And also, to my friends who read my earlier column, for your comments, for your words of encouragement an wisdom. Thank you for helping me create a new family.