First, a few things.
I was in labor for 39½ hours.
The Kid graduated from a private college without student loans.
And, our child is a kind, compassionate, creative, productive member of society.
I tell you these things, Gentle Reader, not to brag, but so that you may look kindly upon me when I reveal to you what a hash I’ve made of mothering, time and again.
When The Kid was in elementary school, the Matthews Family Band made a day trip to Wrightsville Beach. At one point, we decided it was time for something cold and refreshing.
Petey and I got sodas, and The Kid chose a snow cone.
That snow cone.
That accursed snow cone.
Snow cones have never appealed to me, so I wasn’t familiar with their mechanics and practices. Which partly, possibly, explains what happened next.
When I saw that it was melting and pooling in the bottom of the paper cone, I took it and ripped a hole in it so the fluid gathered at the bottom would dribble out.
The look on that child’s face would break a heart of stone. Petey looked shocked and appalled, as well.
The Kid wailed, “Why did you do that? You ruined it!”
It was at this point that I realized I had made a huge frozen faux pas.
It’s been 20 years, but Petey and The Kid love to talk about it to watch me squirm.
A couple of years earlier, The Kid had a cold with an earache. My mother, who has multiple gold medals in the worrywart Olympics, kept urging me to take the patient to the doctor. The Kid didn’t seem to be getting worse, wasn’t running a fever, so I demurred.
Turns out, it was such a bad infection, they at first thought it was flesh-eating bacteria that was working its way toward the brain.
After a night in the hospital, the docs determined it was only a particularly nasty middle ear infection. The earache lasted for months.
The last still stings the worst.
The Kid was driving down from college in Vermont for winter break. We expected the arrival early afternoon. I’d made plans for us to go out to lunch and do some Christmas shopping.
You should also know, I’m a light sleeper and Petey snores like a malfunctioning freight train, so I sleep with earplugs.
That morning, I was snug in my bed, and half asleep, I heard the dog bark downstairs. I groggily figured Petey had come in from work, gone into the bathroom, and the dog was trying to hurry him along.
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
It wasn’t Petey.
Petey woke me later.
“The Kid’s downstairs”
I assumed he was joking, but our little scholar was home early, to surprise us, but without a house key. The Kid had actually been home for a couple of hours. So long, in fact, a trip to the local gas station had been necessary for coffee and the loo.
My child had been trying and trying to get into the house and I’d slept through it.
As soon as I came downstairs, we went and had multiple keys made.
To this day, just thinking about it makes me feel like the absolute worst mother that ever mothered.
But again, The Kid is a marvelous human who only brings up these horrible, cringe-worthy, guilt-inducing episodes on the occasion of major screw-ups, the desire to tease, or a big favor is being sought.
But I have a trump card. I just mumble, “Thirty-nine and a half hours.”
Thanks for your time.
Contact Debbie Matthews at email@example.com.