The other day, I took the kids to Michael’s for a gear-gathering visit. Anya and I have several projects planned and in the works, and we needed supplies. We were there quite a long time; when we got out, we had missed lunch. So we were hangry, and we could not agree on a place to eat. Anya wanted Chili’s. I am fantastically sick of Chili’s. I wanted pizza, because it is fast and easy and I’d planned on visiting Target afterward. Kai, I’m sure, just wanted us to shut up, but his verbal skills aren’t advanced enough to voice that yet.
I reluctantly agreed to Chili’s, until I saw the line out front. There were at least 20 people on the sidewalk outside. On a hot June day. No telling how many people were inside, but the number of near collisions in the parking lot from people fighting over the last few parking spaces told me I didn’t want to be there. Particularly with two cranky kids. So I told Anya we were going somewhere else, and that we’d eat at Chili’s another time.
This did not go over well. She began haranguing me as I drove away, finally hurling one final insult at me: “You a bad mommy!”
I wish I could tell you I brushed that off, but it stung. I got mad. I got hurt. I actually couldn’t speak to her for several minutes, so much did that bruise.
She’s said other things along those lines in the past – that I’m no fun, I’m a meaniehead, things of that ilk – and I’ve just shrugged them off. We as a family often tease: when Daddy passes gas, he is “Bad Daddy” (sometimes “butt” is added – “Bad Daddy butt” – sometimes not); when I forget to buy something at the store, I’m “Bad Mommy.” It’s our little joke.
But adding two little words – “You a” – changes the meaning entirely. She threw a punch, and it landed harder than she’d anticipated.
She was immediately sorry. During lunch, she crawled up in my lap and hugged me tight, gently kissing my hair and saying over and over, “I sorry, Mommy. I love you, Mommy. You my sweet Mommy.”
I was still stung, but I let it go. She didn’t mean it as it came out. Yes, she’d meant to hurt me – but not that much.
Later that night, in bed, she snuggled close to me. “You a good Mommy. You such a good Mommy. I love you so much.”
Like many things that I encounter on this motherhood journey, this one turned out better than I expected. Sure, I fumbled. But she learned that words matter. Words hurt. Words, once said, cannot be taken back.
But they can be forgiven. I told her that I understood that she didn’t mean to hurt me. That we all say things we don’t mean when we are upset. That I forgave her. And that I love her so very much. She fell asleep wrapped up in my arms, a little smile on her face.
We’re not perfect, either of us. But we mean well. We’re trying.