When I was in seventh grade, I lived exactly one mile away from the junior high school I attended. Several of my friends I grew up with lived off of the same major road, about a mile further down, and because we all lived too close to the school for busing, but because the road was considered too busy and too dangerous to walk, the school district decided to issue us city bus passes. Every morning without fail, my mom would stop what she was doing at 6:45 a.m. and walk with me down the block to the city bus stop where three other kids (who attended the vocational high school) waited. She’d chat with me, see me on the bus, and then walk back home and get the other kids ready for school. It didn’t occur to me to mind that my mom still walked me to the bus stop. At least not until my friends (who got on the bus before me) asked me why. I saw my mom as company. They saw her as an embarrassment.
That Christmas, when break was over and school was about the begin, I asked my mom if I could walk myself to the bus stop. She almost didn’t falter as she said it was okay with her. She hid the mountain of hurt and sent me out. I was ready; why shouldn’t she be?
My mom is a bigger person than I am, and a much better mom.
Last night, Bee asked if she could take her lunch to school the next day. Fine; that was okay with me. She would just need to make her sandwich, and gather some snacks. Gracie quickly asked if that meant she could, too, and I agreed. So as Bee pulled out her brown paper bag, I pulled out a Sharpie, to keep the girls from mixing up their lunches.
But what I heard was, “Mooooommmm! Nooooo!” from Bee-girl.
See, when she used to take her lunch every day, I would draw cartoons on her bag. She used to love it. That and the sweet note I’d write on her napkin. Now, however, I was apparently a great, big embarrassment to her. And rather than accept it with any sort of graciousness, I let all of my sadness show on my face and simply wrote her name. Hey, at least I choked back the tears.
Bee told me, fine I could draw on her bag – after her sister whispered that she should just let me do it. But I told Bee that I knew she was only agreeing because Gracie had told her to. Yes, it lacked all of my mom’s tact and diplomacy. I wasn’t letting my kid grow-up when she was ready. But you know what? I’ve been through a lot this week and I was just. wiped. out.
Tomorrow maybe my heart will more healed and I will be more ready to face more people who need me less. Today I needed those I love to need me back.
I am imperfect. And, boy, don’t I know it.