Last Sunday morning, I had ornate plans in my head involving Maria and Mario. I would wake up Sunday morning and take the dog for a run. When I came home, Maria and Mario would be waiting by the door with jackets on ready to take a walk up to Stauf’s. We would eat bagels and play cards and then walk up the street to the old playground we used to go to on Sunday mornings. We would all bunch up together and slide down the slide, laughing and playfully kissing one another until we got to the bottom. We would swing each other on the swings….
OK, now maybe I was going a tad too far with my imagination, but I did have a plan to at least spend some time with the kids in the morning.
I went downstairs to let Rocco outside and Maria was already on the couch playing on her phone. It was 7:30 AM. I glanced over at her and smiled.
“Awesome, you are up! I thought me and you and Mario would go to Stauf’s in a bit.”
She sighed and gave me a frown.
“What? I just thought we could stay home this morning and chill.”
I chose to ignore her comment and walked upstairs to check in on Mario.￼￼ I figured if I could get Mario to go, Maria would follow. She likes hanging out with her little brother. When I got up the stairs, I heard the video game. Mario had already gotten on the Xbox.
“Hey dude, how about we head to Stauf’s with your sister?”
“Do we have to? Can’t we just hang here and chill?”
I could feel my irritation growing stronger. I told him I really wanted to take a walk because it was so beautiful out and we don’t get much time together – the three of us. He shrugged his shoulders, and kept playing his game. Grrrrr. I took my frustration out the way I know best – telling him he’s not gonna be on x-box all day and he’s got chores. He replied exasperated and a bit snotty “I know, mom.”
We proceeded to continue this banter with me getting more and more angry at him for not just excitedly agreeing to a walk. After my last quip, he pushed his chair back into the blinds. With the sound of the blinds hitting against the window, I went off. I shot him the middle finger for a quick second. I immediately hoped he had not caught it but he was staring right at me.
I left the scene and darted into my bedroom. I passed Jon along the way – he had heard the commotion and was coming in to check up on us.
￼”What’s going on”, he asked Mario.
“Mom just gave me the finger, that is what is going on.”
Jon told Mario to clean his room, and then came into our room to chastise me. “Seriously, babe?!”
“I was trying not to cuss him out so I thought I would do a finger gesture instead. I was hoping he wouldn’t catch it..”
I was fully aware I had overreacted, and let my anger get the best of me. My brood has some quick tempers so I get it honestly. We never get violent, but we can cuss with the best of them! ￼￼Lovely. I could already picture Mario in the therapist chair with a box of tissues detailing that morning his mom flipped him off.
I knocked on his door and gently opened it. He turned around from cleaning his dresser to look at me. I sat on his bed and patted the area beside me motioning him to sit. He walked over and sat down. I placed my hand on his shoulder, and began to cry as I apologized. I told him how hard it is to see him grow up, and not be interested in all of the routine activities we did when he was younger – like going to the coffee shop and throwing the ball and playing board games. When I looked up at him, his eyes were as wide as if he had just seen a ghost. I think he was completely taken aback – first his mom is enraged and now she is crying her eyes out. Actually, he was probably just thinking “what a freak!”
He leaned over and gave me a hug. My boy has empathy even when he’s freaked out. His gesture made me cry harder. I eventually got my act together, and told him the memory I had of when he was a little boy. He would hear me walking down the stairs and would cry out my name. He would beg me not to run. I would have to rub his back and tell him that I would be back in less than an hour to play. I’d stand up and he’d say “can you rub my back for a few more minutes?” ￼He didn’t want me to leave his side.
He smiled. I then told him how there were days when I’d leave the house and think to myself “I can’t wait until he gets up and doesn’t care if I leave.” It hurt to hear him cry my name every morning and beg for me to stay. I then told him that those days are here and now I miss the days he was a little boy.
Life is crazy.
I reiterated how normal it is for parents to have these moments of temporary insanity and how much he should know I never mean to cuss at him or give him an explicit gesture. They don’t mean for one minute I don’t love him with every piece of my being and think he’s the epitome of cool. He’s more and more self-reliant, as he should be. Dad and I have done something right since he’s not crying out my name when I leave.
I called my mom later that evening and told her about the incident. I relayed how bad I felt but how quickly I went in to apologize to Mario with the hopes that he would see that people can mess up, but can also admit to their errs and seek forgiveness. ￼My mom, always ready to find a way to make me feel better, asked if I really meant to give Mario the Peace sign but instead my index finger simply didn’t raise up with my middle finger?
Yes! Yes, that is what happened.
I hung up the phone with my mom and walked into the family room. Mario was watching TV. I sat down next to him and said “hey, you know that incident earlier, I was actually trying to give you the peace sign but you didn’t see my index finger.”￼￼￼ He cocked his head to one side and gave me an unbelievable stare.
He laughed, but didn’t call bullshit.