A Tale of Two Mothers
Chris was gone to a meeting and I was home with sleeping ones. As they awoke and scattered around the house and yard, I played with Audrey in the family room. Boys were outside, where boys are happiest.
But they had found where their Daddy set the fishing poles from the mornings’ inaugural fishing trip. Silently they took them where I could not see them and played “going fishing” from the top of the playset. They knew better. But they were having a grand time I’m sure.
When I came out to peek on them, I flipped a lid completely. They had tangled and undone the fishing reel and made a mess in their illicit fun.
I yelled “Get your butts inside right now!” May not seem like much but using that term for the behind is like a swear word in this house. I was red-faced mad.
So mad that I sent them to bed. At 6:00. They’d just finished dinner. They should have had hours of play ahead of them.
My reaction had little to do with fishing pole lines and everything to do with who last wound the reel. These were Grampy’s fishing rods. And he’s gone.
I did not speak to them the rest of the night but to say “Stay in bed. Go to sleep.” I did not address what they’d done except for my irrational spew of words as I saw them out the window. I did not forgive them. They were more bummed they got busted than remorseful at their poor choice. They did not grasp the emotions that lay under the surface. They simply saw crazy-mom totally lose it. It was not a high moment.
We were getting ready for the day, putting away jammies, finishing breakfast, letting chickens out…when Caleb thought it would be a great idea to tie Maggie (35 lb dog) to the wooden play kitchen that my Grandma bought for the girls for Christmas. Then he spooked her and she ran. Pulling the 30 pound kitchen over with her. Dishes flew everywhere. Part of the door cracked as it hit the floor.
I run into the room, see the dog, the kitchen, the mess, the boy whose face instantly tells me he is broken too. He is saying “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry Mama” over and over. I am overcome and kneel to assess the damage, I start to cry and whisper “Great-Grandma got this for the girls….Papa put it all together…”. He knows. And he runs to his room weeping.
I walk to my own room, weeping too. I shut the door and sink to the floor. The fishing poles are sitting next to me. Just looking at them literally makes my heart hurt.
It isn’t about the cracked kitchen or unwound fishing line. It is all about the sacred things that mean family. It is about how my heart broke watching my husband unpack his dad’s tackle boxes. It’s about the fact that Great-Grandma is old and her making it to one more Christmas to pick out something for my girls is not something I have control of. No matter how I cling, life is out of my control.
I force myself to get up and open his door. I’ve seen him this sad maybe a few times ever in his 6 years. He looks at me and I see him wonder Is she mad? What’s she going to do? I open my arms and he melts in. We sit and cry together for a long while. I try to explain that it’s not about ‘stuff’ but that some things are meaningful and that especially after someone dies, their things that we have are a way we cherish them and remember.
After at least ten minutes of silence and two soaked cheeks touching each other, he looks up and says “I think you are going to not forgive me.” I hadn’t remembered to actually say it even though as soon as I walked into his room, my heart did it.
I say it out loud. I tell him I mean it. That forgiving means starting over fresh. That no bad choice he could ever make will change the fact that I love him.
We open the door after at least a half an hour. Rylee, ever intuitive seven year old, had kept the other kids busy and they had all been coloring pictures for me while they waited. They somberly each handed me a stack of pictures and I wept again.
So we start over. And I’m so struck by the fact that I could get it so wrong yesterday and so much closer to right today. I’ve said it before but today is a good reminder: being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Thank goodness for second chances…