We’ve all had those days. Days when one request for a snack sends you over the edge and you yell your response. Days when you want to have your 4 p.m. glass of wine at 10 a.m. Days when you just want to hop in the car, by yourself, and keep driving until you run out of gas, trying to drive on the highway as your vision is clouded by the salt of your own tears.
I was convinced my mom didn’t have those days. I remember her hanging wallpaper while we played “teacher.” She made an afternoon snack called “puppy dog tails” that was sugar and cinnamon deliciousness. When we were sick, she would pray over us with holy water. We would get in our jammies early and sit in bed with her and watch TV if my dad was traveling. My childhood was ruled by a mom who never got flustered by the stubborn or frustrating behaviors of her own kids.
Except she did! When my mom passed I went through a stack of pictures and among those pictures were letters. Letters she wrote from Florida as a young mother with her extended family back in Connecticut. She was 30 with three kids under 5, had a husband who traveled extensively and was living in a new state with little support.
Then I saw it. Right there in writing. A letter to her mom that read, “The kids well – they have been in some ways driving us crazy. Tom said if he found 2 dead kids when he came home he would testify on my behalf.”
Now, I know that violence against children is not funny or entertaining but it spoke to the level of frustration we caused her some days. There were days, my mom, my perfectly patient mother was so infuriated by our behavior, she put it in writing to her own mother.
I instantly felt a wave of relief. My mom had horrible, frustrating moments and days when she was infuriated with us. But, I never remember them. I really only remember the good. It made her more human and made me feel less inadequate.
Then, I realized that I could possibly pull off the same ruse with my own children. Will I have more good days than bad days where they will remember the fun we’ve had instead of the day I was crying by breakfast clean up? Will they look back and remember the times I helped them do their homework or read to them instead of snapping at them?
I don’t know how, for sure, how my kids own kids will reflect on their childhood. But, after her death, my mom gave me hope … hope that my kids will look back with the same fondness for their younger years as I did. She let me know you can have bad days but be a good mom.