The two of you probably don’t know that you broke me that evening in May, three long years ago. It was a small break, and temporary, you don’t have that much control over me. But there was a crack, nonetheless, and it was probably just because I was tired that I didn’t bite back.
My youngest had just turned nine, and had birthday money burning a hole in her pocket. Garlic knots were weighing heavily on her mind, and she had to have them. Not just any garlic knots, but ones from the famous market down the street, at the edge of our neighborhood. She was going to get those garlic knots. Even if she had to walk herself.
She’d asked her older brother, and then each older sister in turn, to please take the walk with her, knowing I’d never allow her on her own. In the end, all five had said no. Left to her last resort, she asked her very tired, night shift working mommy, for a ride. Still in pajamas, and another shift looming in hours, I considered her request.
“Alright, peanut,” I’d said. “But you have to go in and order them yourself while I wait in the car. This is what you want so badly, I want you to do the work.”
She agreed and we left. Driving down our hill and turning left into the parking lot, I parked directly in front of the door, and the big wall of windows. She hopped out and went in to order her knots.
It took forever.
I sat out front, waiting and waiting. I rolled the windows down and waited some more.
She popped out to tell me it would be a few minutes yet. I smiled and encouraged her, this was what she wanted, and she was doing great.
I was pretty proud. She’d learned with me how to order and pay for things. I worked on that with all of my children from practically day one. These were things that they needed to know, life skills even.
So I was pretty proud. Until the two of you walked out with your pizza and drinks, and looked at me through my open window. And spouted off.
“Look at that lazy mother. I can’t believe that she is making her child pick up her dinner. Shame on her. Get off your lazy ass, lady.” They laughed as they got in their car and drove away, leaving me ashamed, embarrassed, and doubting myself.
I should have said something. What the hell did they know? Did they know that I’d left an abusive relationship with her father four years before, and now acted as both mom and dad to six children, every hour of every day?
I should have said something. Did they know that I’d already lost an important job, working normal day hours, because there was no one else to take care of a child home sick, or take another child just diagnosed with a chronic medical condition to her very frequent emergency room visits and doctor appointments?
I should have said something. Did they know I’d been forced out of that very important job, had gone back to school just so I could get employed at a local hospital, working the night shift so that I could take care of these six kids, and watch over them and be there for them when they needed me during the day?
Did they know how tired I was from that, from working nights and still tending to every appointment, every parent teacher conference, every half day and vacation day and making every hockey practice and school recital? Because there WAS no one else?
I didn’t say anything. Instead, I was shamed. Instead, I was embarrassed. Instead, I questioned every move, every thought, every time I needed to make a decision.
Fellow parents, there was nothing wrong with what I did. And everything right. Life skills, ladies. Nothing lazy about that.
Don’t let any foolish, unknowing, other parents (if they even were parents) make you doubt how you are raising your children. I let them, for far too long.
So here’s me saying something.