I had enough. I was tired and those ever-present vapors of frustration radiated from my skin … I launched the attack.
“You better get your act together! … Don’t you dare disrespect me or your father! … You need to be more responsible! … You need to stop whining! … Why can’t you … You really messed up!”
And the swords cut, and the battle was one-sided, with a fierce blow to my child’s spirit.
He sat silent in the back seat, while I threw out a few more blasts of bullets that pelted his heart and crushed his character.
Pulling up to the school, I realized I had the ruins of a war torn boy before me as I turned back to face him …
Eyes down. Sunken body. Waiting to get out of this God-forsaken air he was forced to breathe in.
Those weapons of anger had torn his innocent spirit right out of him.
I grappled with a few fleeting last attempts at salvaging my despicable disdain, with “I love you” and “I know you can do better” … as they just echoed of emptiness. I knew I could do nothing to fill the air back with anything worthy of goodness.
I watched him hurry to escape the car and walk into school …
I stared at his little body and gasped at the sickness that boiled in my gut. I begged for this to all be erased from his memory as he started his day. I knew it could not.
I failed as a mother.
How dare I viciously point out all my kid’s flaws and mistakes and disappointments at the beginning of his day? Who the hell am I to set that sick tone of admonishment of all of his faults? I wonder how I would feel if the one person I trusted and loved like no other attacked all my weak parts as I set off to start my day.
How dare I.
We had a rough few days. The kid had seriously messed up on various occasions. He can do better. He HAS failed in many ways.
That car ride was NOT the time to pour the poison all over him.
I know better.
Our rides to school are usually full of encouragement and prayer, as I know full well that when you start your day with both, it’s bound to produce good things. I am proud of our daily tradition, which has been going on for years. My kids soak in all my encouragement and praise and prayers for them during those final minutes before we separate: Them to their world and me to mine. This is the most gratifying part of my day …
What happened today?
I am flawed. I am so very, very flawed.
An hour later, I decided to drive back to the school. I couldn’t shake the horrifying idea that my son would have that heavy weight of judgment holding him down throughout the day. They buzzed me in, and questioned why I needed to go interrupt the class. I confessed, we had had a bad morning. (I can’t lie for the life of me.) The office allowed it, and I walked to the classroom door and saw my precious boy sitting studiously with pencil in hand and focused on his teacher teaching.
I caught his eye and waved and smiled. He smiled with that ‘What are you doing here?’ expression and I motioned for him to come out to the hallway. Of course the class was disrupted and all eyes looked out the window to me, as the teacher then opened the door and so graciously honored my request.
My son walked out of the classroom, with the look of embarrassment as he questioned me and seemed to be restless in the moment. I reached for him, pulled him close to me, and he wiggled away, looking around to see if anyone saw my embrace. Clearly, this wasn’t the time or the place to be reconciling the morning commute, but I fought it and made my point of redemption as best I could.
He was uncomfortable and anxious to return to class, and I hated myself for adding even more stress to his already broken day. I could only hope that those few encouraging words I was able to get out somehow soothed this morning’s scalding temper. He turned in a hurry to get back to class, and I walked away more empty than before.
Perhaps I went back to selfishly find resolution for myself. Maybe I decided it was worth the risk of embarrassing my son to show him my love. I desperately wanted to un-break him, but my attempt was futile.
Today I question my choices and sit soaked in my mess. I wonder if he is moving on with his day with a new empowered breath, or was I just a reminder of what took his breath away.
I don’t know.
I just know that if I didn’t go back and try, I couldn’t live without at least attempting to somehow lift my boy back up from the ground I knocked him down on.
Today I failed as a mother.
I’ll be damn sure that tomorrow’s drop off goes better.
I share this experience with the hope that mothers everywhere can understand that no mother is perfect, and all mothers make mistakes. You are not alone. This commute happened months ago, and my son is OK. I thank God kids are so forgiving and resilient, yes?
We must have grace in parenting.
I’m also happy to report that there has not been a commute like this again …