Monday, April 30, 2007


While changing the spider-man sheets on my 4 and 8 year-old-sons’ bunk bed, I found no less then thirty pieces of pastel colored foil, once containing chocolate Easter eggs, stuffed inside pillowcases like drug money. My two underage smugglers had been hording contraband candy for weeks without raising an ounce of suspicion from me, their optimistic mother; quite frankly, I was dumbfounded by my ignorance. Throughout the interrogation they lowered their eyes with solemnity, “I’m sorry mom,” they mechanically offered. But I couldn’t help speculating that behind the punishment induced, “shoot, I got caught” tears, were a couple of strong wills arming themselves against my chastising assaults. I lectured until the steady stream of words pouring from out my lips ceased to be relevant to the crime at hand. But genuine remorse, I discovered, cannot be forced through hardened hearts, embittered by the emotional tirades of a stretched thin parent. Honesty cannot bloom in rocky soil.

“Get out of this office!” I lashed at my children just yesterday. “Go to your rooms! I do not want to see you, or hear you, or be near you right now, do you understand?!” I had tried to maintain my composure, to be kind and mature even while their two straight hours of bickering pounded at my head like a hammer. But then I snapped…I reached my limit, the thin layer of resolve separating feelings from ideals split down the middle allowing anger to flow unimpeded.
“I wish it could be like before,” whispered my oldest child, “like earlier when you were happy.”
“Look Elijah,” I fumed. “I have had it with the fighting! It makes me sick, sometimes, how you treat each other!”
“How about,” he suggested, “I sit right here quietly until you can calm down, and when you’re ready, we can go back to being like old times.”
And suddenly I was aware of how I looked to my kids: wild-eyed, evil, and monstrous.

Just when I think I have it all down, I am humiliated by a lack of self-control. My lasting impression, echoing down the hallway with empty threats, verifies not that certain behavior is unacceptable, but rather that mom is crazy. It is naïve to imagine I would never give way to the stress of being pulled in five directions. It is understandable, I daresay, to lose patience when sleep is scarce and demands are high. But to sweep it under the rug, to move on without apologizing for unloading adult issues on my children, does a grave disservice to our relationship. It undermines the values I try to teach them by example.

I am sorry my little ones. Let us try again tomorrow to be respectful of each other, and sincere in our efforts to love, to learn, and to grow.


Anonymous said...

This one is a real winner-I absolutely loved it when you said,"My lasting impression, echoing down the hallway with empty threats, verifies not that certain behavior is unacceptable, but rather that mom is crazy." I can totally identify. Thanks for putting it so poignantly.

Jenny said...


This is a lovely post--it always helps to hear about your experience as a mother of four--that other moms feel sorry and that other kids are sneaky, too!