"Shoot," I said under my breath as I slid my daughter off my hip, jiggled the fishing pole into a better position, and maneuvered the stroller out of the way. I gave the bathroom door another hard shove with my shoulder. Nothing. "What a perfect end to this summer," I huffed. "Babygirl, looks like we're stuck in the loo."
My three-year-old daughter, Greta, looked up at me with a bit of panic, and my pinched face did nothing to calm her. It wasn't that I thought we'd never escape (my husband and older son knew where we were). It was just that this stuck feeling, this sensation of my life going nowhere fast, which had dogged me all summer, had come along on this vacation and morphed from feeling to reality, trapping me, Greta, and my baby, Fredrik, in the bathroom on Anderson's pier in Ephraim, Wisconsin.
The stuckiness, as I'd begun to call the feeling, first showed up in early summer after potty training Greta. While I was thrilled to have her out of diapers, getting two preschoolers to "go" before leaving the house only to have one of them need to go "for real this time!" after getting buckled into their car seats made me batty. Every trip to the pool, outing to Grandma's, and "quick run" to Target seemed to get stuck before it began.
Then stuckiness showed up in my work. Editing and writing projects—things I'd pour my energy, heart, and mind into—would get jammed up in ways that had never happened before and seemed beyond my control to unstick. While I bounded with creativity and enthusiasm, it seemed at every idea, someone would say, "Great! But let's hold off."1