I can’t be the only one who gets called the Worst Mother Ever. At least I hope I’m not because it feels lonely enough when the words are hurled at you. They come flying across the room when I’m asking someone to do something like empty the dishwasher or when I’m forcing a teenager to go somewhere he would prefer not to go. This morning one child had more money in his baggie for Market Day at church camp. Apparently it was my fault and I was the “Worst Mama Ever!” The words are never thrown at me when I feel like I could possibly be a bad mama. Like when I’m letting them watch Sharknado or eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos before 10 am. Or when I yell at them for something they didn’t mean to do. The words are always followed by quick apologies and hugs and promises to be better. I’ve taught them that it’s ok to express their anger. Emotions that are stifled eat away at your soul. I just try to help them find appropriate ways to handle their anger and if it has to be sent my way, I guess that’s ok. I get it. Better me than so many other people in their worlds.
On a recent summer day, Alex was quick to remind me that I had broken a promise and lied. I was given the title of Worst Mother Ever. He wanted to go to Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens before he got his cast on. He knew he couldn’t ride any of the roller coasters with a cast on his foot and he thought it was only fair for me to take him before it was put on…not after. Because of all the rain and his baseball games, we couldn’t get there and he needed to start on the road to recovery. The cast went on with a promise of an amusement park when it came off. Last week the doctor said his foot had healed and the begging and pleading to go started again. I made him wait a little bit because it didn’t really work with my schedule to go last week. But on Tuesday, the day finally arrived and we left for Busch Gardens in a rainstorm.
I won’t bore you with all of the details of our day other than to say it was soggy but filled with fun. But there were little things that happened that made me think even if I am the Worst Mama Ever, my kids are going to be A.O.K. The big boys wanted to go on the first ride we happened upon. Gigs wanted to go too and Alex volunteered to take her. As I watched her little legs try to keep up with the big boys, I was reminded that she idolizes her big brother. Alex sat next to her and talked her through the Escape from Pompeii. She was grinning ear to ear when she got off. The older kids left to do their own thing but kept checking back to take their siblings on a ride. Ethan was scared to do some of the rides but with Alex’s help, he made it on to some I couldn’t get him to do.
I watched big brothers take little brothers’ hands. I watched big brothers squish their oversized bodies into the Elmo roller coaster. I heard rumors that a certain big brother talked both of his little sisters through the big rides they picked to go on with him. A day that was about thrills that made your stomach drop and eating overpriced food, became a day for me to sit back and watch with a content smile on my face. I watched the kids who have spent a fair amount of time bickering on my couch go out into this big wide world…together. My friend and I talked about how lucky we are right now at this very moment because our big boys love their little siblings. And that love is shaping the little ones and giving them things they can’t get from us.
On the ride home, I was tired and cold. We spent over eight hours in the drizzle walking from ride to ride. Alex sat with me while the other three drifted in and out of sleep. And he said some words that I believe are more true than the ones that get hurled in the heat of the moment. He said thank you. It was a thank you from the deep part of his heart. And all I could whisper back was thank you my sweet, sweet boy.