I was already feeling like mother of the year after the allergist appointment on Wednesday. Then Madalyn came home in rare form, and we (oh, I mean, SHE) had three math worksheets to do. Plus reading and focus words. Homework with Madalyn is tough, and that is the understatement of the century.
By the end of the day, I was done. Tank was empty. Frustrated beyond belief. And in a moment upstairs in the kitchen when I thought that David was downstairs and it was just my husband and I in the kitchen and no chance of anyone in the world hearing what I had to say, I busted out an expletive.
Yes, I cursed.
Let me digress a bit here by saying that I used to have quite a potty mouth (sorry you are having to read about this, Daddy... you really did teach me better than that). But once I had David, and he began to speak and repeat things at an amazingly early age, I realized how inappropriate it was. So I cloroxed that potty mouth and became a better example for my little David. But it's still something that bubbles up, especially when I am frustrated. Now, I don't think that little wordy-words are the worst things ever. Somewhere along the way, someone decided which words were appropriate and which ones were not. And these words vary from region to region. In my mind, profanity is broader than just a set of words; it's a manner of speaking, as in using words to degrade others or to deviate from the norm of society. So, for instance, in my house, calling someone stupid is completely inappropriate, but my kids are allowed to say that things are stupid. I am not going to teach my kids that stupid is a bad word, because it's not. With language, it's all in how you use it, not in the word itself.
But now, for sure, there are words which I never want to hear my kids say. And the word I uttered was on that list. And just after I said it, I looked up from inside the kitchen to see my little David on the top step moving toward his room. His eyes met mine, and I knew he heard me. And instantly I shrunk from 5'5" to 1" tall. Just like that.
Ever have those moments? Moments when you think, "Well... I just totally negated my entire platform on choosing your words appropriately." Moments when you think you've flushed a moral down the toilet. Moments when you wish you could hit the rewind and edit buttons. Mercy me.
So then I cried. And then I went downstairs and apologized to him and told him I had spoken out of frustration and that I was so sorry he heard me say that. And, of course, he told me that it was okay, that everyone makes mistakes. I see that he stands firmly on my most important platform of all, that everyone makes mistakes. Maybe he stood on it a little more comfortably than I do....
So guilt continued to course through my veins. I told myself the one thing that hurts me the most: My mother would have never done that. But then this little memory came bubbling up inside of me.
I must have been 13, and we were moving from Marianna to Montgomery. It had been a tough couple of years. We had left the little town in Louisiana along with lots of church drama to join a little church in the panhandle of Florida. I don't remember a whole lot about that place except that the church property was really neat with lots of trees around it and a rustic kind of look. We lived in the parsonage just walking distance from the church. School was really easy for me that year as far as the books were concerned, but fitting in was the most difficult it had ever been. And the church was not ready for my dad. His approach to the Scriptures was far different from the average preachers they had experienced. My mom and dad decided to move back home to Montgomery, for my dad to get out of the ministry all together. So after just a year, we packed and moved again.
Moving is not fun. For anyone. But it's really not fun when in three years time you've packed the contents of your house and moved it three times. Once from one house to another just a few blocks down the road while we were in Louisiana, then to Florida, then from Florida to Montgomery.
So I remember that I was in the car with my mother. I am assuming my dad was driving a Uhaul or something with the majority of our belongings. And something happened; I can't quite remember what. But I heard it.... heard it loud and clear. She dropped one of those words. And I was completely shocked for a moment. And then I started laughing, and so did she. And it was this moment of realness between mother and daughter that was just lovely. And it makes me chuckle now.
You see, I desire to be the kind of example to my kids that my mom was to me. She was a stand-up lady. I am already a little more jagged around the edges than she ever dreamed of being, so anytime I make a mistake, I guilt myself way more than I should. But the reality of me dropping a four-letter word in earshot of my son is that he knows that's not the norm for me. And he knows that I make mistakes. And I had the opportunity to apologize to him for not making a good choice, which is allowing us to have this open dialogue on both sides. And he knows I would lay myself down in front of a truck for him, same as I knew my mom would do anything for me, too.
Even though I can't talk to her about all my mishaps now and hear her reassure me that I am a good Mama, I love it how I have all these memories that remind me of what being a good mom is all about. And even though I have a tendency to memorialize my mom as being as near to a saint as a human can be, the reality is that she wasn't perfect. But the perfect thing about my mom was her transparency and honesty. And I think that's something that she passed down to me. And I am grateful.
As for the word choices, I have now learned yet another lesson from my parenting mishaps. Proper word choices should be made even when we think our kids are in another room.....