Before I had children, I envisioned myself as the ‘cool’ mom, whatever that meant. I had literally zero idea, as (1) I didn’t have kids and (2) didn’t know the first thing about raising ’em. Yet somehow I couldn’t imagine myself ever yelling at these imaginary children. I couldn’t imagine leaving the room out of sheer disgust and disappointment, leaving them with “I’ve had it!” when the dinner table turned into farts and burping contests.
I thought I’d be one of those moms who loved the kids through it, no matter what “it” was. Never a harsh word spoken. Never anger. Always hugs and snuggles, bedtime stories and home baked cookies.
Okay, so I know now, that is so not reality. Not even close.
The other night, my best attempt at parenting, turned into an ugly, scream fest-party of one, between myself and my middle child. My thirteen-year old son.
It had already been a very long day. It had been a 1/2 day for all three kids, and all three kids wanted to go off in different directions with friends for the afternoon. Sure, I’m the mom, I’ll drive you across town and back again…and back again…and again. Sure. Why the hell not.
Mistake #1. Agreeing. Mistake #2 Resenting it. I mean, c’mon. They can’t drive. This is my job for now, right?
So when I asked my son to be ready by 5 p.m. because we were heading to my folks for dinner, I meant, be ready by 5 p.m. At 4:57 p.m. I texted him. “we’ll be there in 2 minutes. be ready.” (I don’t capitalize as well as I should in texts)
At 4:59, we pulled in. At 5:02 I texted again. “hello??” Crickets. Nada. Nothing.
At 5:06, I called. He answered the phone, laughing…”I’ll be right out…” more laughing, and I hung up the phone. I was quite pissed.
At 5:09 he comes out laughing and smiling. Until he saw my face. The minute he got into the car, I blasted him. In front of my other 2 kids. In front of my husband. I went on and on…to the point where even I was sick of listening to my rant. But I couldn’t stop. I felt disrespected. I felt hurt. I was angry that I’d already run across town for my three kids back and forth, and all I asked was to be ready at a certain time, and he wasn’t.
And to make it worse, I didn’t even acknowledge his apology (which, by the way, came as soon as he got into the car). Nope – I ranted all the way to my folks and, dare I admit, continued to bring it all up again over dinner with my folks; embarrassing him even more than he’d already been in the car.
Here’s the thing. My middle child is a really good kid. Straight As…respectful, kind, artistic, creative, understanding…helpful. He’s friggin’ amazing. He didn’t deserve the can of whoop ass I’d unleashed on him. At all.
After dinner, I sat next to him. I waited for him to glance over (truth be told, he was avoiding me at all costs, and who could blame him). He looked at me with those big brown eyes, and I took his hand, and apologized. I told him, despite him being wrong, he didn’t deserve the unleashing. He didn’t deserve the rant. It all could have been handled differently. I could have reacted much better.
But he looked at me, smiled, and said, “Mom, I get it. We’re getting older and you worry about us. It’s ok.” And he hugged me.
I told him I feel like my heart is in my throat all the time now – when I was pregnant, they were safe. I had complete control over everything. I protected them. And now, it’s so hard to drop them off and trust that they’ll make the right decisions and be okay. It’s just so scary.
He thanked me for letting him go to his friend’s house. He thanked me for driving and picking him up. He told me just how much he appreciates all I do for him, and said he’d be better next time.
And so will I.
I’m sure we’ll both make mistakes along the way.
And while the dream of what it would be like to have kids was amazing…the reality is so much better. Because while there are cookies, and snuggles, there are also real conversations, challenges and obstacles that we overcome together, and it makes us stronger. It makes the family bond deeper.
I wouldn’t trade my reality for anything.