where is a parent to take the daily frustrations of raising dependent, imperfect children?
– the bar?
– the confessional?
– prayer circle?
– blank page?
– closest confidant?
well this particular day, when the air was cold and the sky was clear, i decided to take my frustrations right back to their source. to the listening ears of my children.
the wind is blowing white clouds through the blue sky and my son is asking me a question. the same question he’s asked and i’ve said no to. he’s changed his tactic, but the question is the same.
and my answer is the same.
my daughter is yelling. instead of talking. for no reason she can name, she is yelling instead of asking and i’m saying again –
“please talk to us, eleanor – do not yell at us.”
did i mention we’re in a car?
i’m a mother.
i don’t give myself much room to consider how my children’s behavior affects me. how much it can bother me, anger me, upset me – i’m their mom.
i keep going – so it collects and hides, it builds slowly.
this day, when i take my frustrations straight back to their feet, i give my mouth permission and words come out like fishing hooks cast, that land and catch and tug.
i can almost see them fly through the air and catch their beating hearts.
i reel in at some point. the hooks rip with the line i bring back and i feel better. i feel mean. i have all the advantage and the car becomes what i wanted.
silence bought at a high, high price.
and i become silent, too. the pleasure of doing the wrong thing gone before it can even be enjoyed.
the smallest voice, the one that turned five last month, speaks up through tears. and it’s this way for every child, grief – trying to reconcile the great love for me and the truth that i am capable of harm – she grieves because i made her grieve.
i hear her brain running like a motor. she’s trying to bring it together. love and life. right and wrong. good and evil. family and safety. she’s asking me about what i’ve said. trying to make good sense of it still.
and it sounds horrible to my ears.
words i can’t take back are out there. gone into six ears that i love. into three hearts that i can’t see, but beat faster with pain.
i stay quiet.
she’s giving her word about the changes she will make.
we get to the store, park and i speak.
“you don’t have to promise me that you’ll be good. i don’t love you because of what you do or do not do. you are my children. i was wrong to say all those things you guys. i was wrong. i’m having a hard day and i’m so sorry that i’ve hurt you. i’m sorry.”
and i’m crying and mazzy’s crying and honestly, all four of us are crying in the grocery store parking lot. i’m wiping away tears and saying sorry and asking for forgiveness and they are willing to give it and when i say we should pray, abraham says, “yes please!”
that’s all we ever have.
apologizing and forgiving.
talking through tears and praying for help. every relationship, every time. mother and daughter, father and son. and somehow, we get out of the car and get a cart. we buy bananas and half and half. we get what we need and go home.
lord have mercy. christ have mercy.