I don't know why I didn't catch the story of Madlyn Primoff (mom who kicked her 2 bickering tweens out of the car -- and drove off) earlier. Maybe I was too preoccupied with my review blog and catching up with my Savvy Source posts. Maybe I was still a bit spaced out from all the medications I've been gulping down over the past two weeks. Or maybe I was just busy dealing with my own kids.
The kids have been pretty wild lately, arguing like crazy, making unbelievable messes and dawdling at bedtime. Which is pretty normal for kids, I guess. But when Alfie and I call them on it, they have begun ignoring us. Maybe it's because they've been sick, and in the hopes of giving their immune systems a rest we've kept them on a fairly tight leash, limiting active outdoor play and keeping them home from afterschool lessons. Or, because as parents we try to pick our battles, and we've been tolerating this particular battle for too long.
On Thursday, 3Po refused to cross the parking lot with me to get to the car, then dancing across like he was in a meadow full of daisies. The other 2 weren't much better. So I blew up. In the car I raved about not listening to me and safety and . For good measure I threatened to leave them on the curb the next time they tuned me out. I calmed down, of course, and I thought the kids had dismissed the incident as another of mama's rants. I was horrified to see that when we got home, 3Po greeted his daddy and promptly burst into tears. What I said had really stuck in his mind and he really was afraid I'd leave him next time. Boy did I feel guilty -- what kind of monster would say that to a 5-year old?
So hearing about Madlyn's story the next day really resonated with me. I'm not sure what I feel -- validation that I'm not the only parents who has threatened to leave their kids behind, amazement that Madlyn actually acted on her impulse, relief that some other mother is this week's Bad Mother instead of me? Maybe all of the above.
And I remembered my own childhood Madlyn Primoff experience. My sister and I were about the same age as Madlyn's kids, and we were fighting in the front seat of the car (shocking, I know, it was the 70's and we were living in Manila, you saw this kind of thing all the time). My mother stopped the car, reached over, opened the door and forced us out. Her anger was more frightening to us than getting out would be -- until she closed the door. She actually began to pully away. We started crying and banging on the door, and she immediately stopped and opened the door to let us in. I don't think she actually would have left us, but at that split second, even at age 10 and 11, we weren't so sure. That experience hasn't scarred me or anything; it's actually a funny memory now. I don't resent my mom in any way for doing it because I'm sure we deserved it -- my sister and I were notorious for our all-out catfights. but now that I'm reliving this memory as a parent, I'm wondering if my mother ever felt the kind of guilt that I do when I remember 3Po wailing his fright out in his daddy's arms.
I apologized to 3Po, held him tight, and told him I would never, ever do such a thing, but I still feel bad. It doesn't matter whether I meant it or not because he took it seriously. And if he were old enough to know I was bluffing, there would be no point in making the threat. So forget about that feeling of relief -- I'm this week's Bad Mother too.