Monday, April 27, 2009

I Must Confess

Hot topic - the mom in New York who put her two fighting preteen daughters out on the side of the road and drove away. One daughter ran after the car and the mom stopped. The other daughter was left on the side of the road, picked up by a compassionate passerby and taken to the police. Later the mom went back, could not find the daughter and reported her missing. The police arrested the mom.

This is being discussed at length on many TV shows, radio, etc. There have been heated discussions about whether it was abuse, neglect, or just a bad choice. One thing all Moms agree on . . . we have all been there. I know I have. The difference was that I never drove away.

I confess . . .

It was about 5 months after my husband died. My son was 15 and my daughter had just turned 12. They were at "that age". And they hated each other for at least 70% of each day.

We were on our way to Alabama to visit my husband's parents for Thanksgiving. I need to clarify that the drive from our house to the in-laws takes about 6 hours. They started fighting about 30 minutes from home. I would distract them with music, a story, stopping for a soda or snack, whatever I could come up with. It worked pretty well most of the time. There were periods of happiness. But there was a lot of fighting.

We made it past Birmingham and only had about an 30 minutes to go. I could make it. We were almost there and then they would fall into the loving arms of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that had not spent the last 6 hours with them in hell. And then . . .it happened. Daughter started it (I think . . . it's really all a blur). Nothing I said worked. Then the pushing started. The yelling continued and then, there I was, joining in on the yelling. Lotta good that did.

This continued and I was done. I had had enough. I pulled over on the side of the interstate. I told them to get out. They looked at me. Daughter laughed. Son just stared at me. I yelled at them to "get the hell out of the car". And I meant it. Daughter got out and stood there, staring at me. Son refused to get out. I pushed him. He refused to move, just staring at me in disbelief. I told Daughter to get back in the car. I looked at them both and dared them to speak. I told them I wanted total silence for the remaining 30 minute drive. I drove away. Then I started to cry. Quietly, so they would not hear me.

When we arrived at the in-laws, the kids went in and said hello. I could hardly speak. My husband's aunt took one look at me and handed me a glass of wine. Then she took me outside and I smoked one of her cigarettes (I don't smoke) while I unloaded my frustration with the craziness of it all. She laughed and eventually I did too. Thanks Cathy.

So no, I didn't drive away and can't imagine doing so. We all have a line somewhere that we won't cross when we reach our crazy point. Some will consider me abusive or neglectful or just mean for what I did. Go ahead. You can't beat me up any more than I have already beat up myself over the way I handled things.

We have all been there. We have all been bad parents at some time. But here's the thing . . . I never did that again. And my kids never did either. I think I scared them a little bit but I scared myself a little bit more. I learned from it and so did they. That's the point of making mistakes. To learn from them. I hope the Mom in New York has learned too.


Katie said...

So, one time, when Hannah was 5 I popped her leg (for what I cannot even remember) and then later I noticed a small bruise. I was totally ashamed and mortified. I didn't even think I really spanked her, it was just a "pop" but talk about learning a lesson! Thanks for your honesty in sharing. My kids are entering those years and if it happens to me, I think I might just leave....or maybe not.

Andie, aka Andemonium said...

Funny, because I was just discussing this topic with some Moms from Taj's school, yesterday. I had no idea about the lady in New York, though. But every one of us 5 Moms gathered at the table, making crafts for the May Faire...every single one of us...had a story about a time when we had locked the car and stepped outside and sat on the curb and cried while our small children threw fits inside the car. It happens.