On Day Nine of my 30-day No-Yelling challenge, I slammed a door so hard I shattered the whole thing.
Let me defend myself a teensy bit: I work out a lot. Like, Olympic lifting of really heavy weights. I was and am stronger than the average mom of three kids under the age of four. And I was having a really, really bad day. My marriage was on the brink of nothing good, my husband couldn't express anything besides anger towards me, and I hated many parts of myself.
Plus, my youngest child refused to put his shoes on and we had to go. If that's not something to throw a mom over the edge, I don't know what is.
So, trying really, really hard not to yell, I set him outside next to his big brother, and I set his shoes beside him, then I slid the sliding glass door shut. Hard. They were outside; I was inside. One of the two shatter-proof glass panes immediately erupted into a zillion pieces, making all three of us freeze in fascination. I could hear the cracks traveling up and down and all around, blurring my view of my two boys.
There was a split second where I willed and hoped and prayed that I could turn back time and un-do this moment. Please, please, please I prayed.
Nope. The shatter-proof glass had, in fact, shattered. Watching the glass break was impressive and mesmerizing, but now pieces of the door were falling in front of my two boys. One nugget of glass at a time. Ka-plink, ka-plank, ka-plunk. Alas, I wasn’t reading my boys Blueberries for Sal. These weren’t the sounds of Little Sal’s sweet blueberries going into the bucket. Sigh. No, this was the door absorbing all of the rage and depression and confusion and disappointment and frustration I’d been feeling in the past six months.
The door shocked all three of us. I understood why my boys were in tears. They just saw a strong bulwark against the real-world shatter and become something they couldn't recognize. I’m talking about the door, sure, but me, too. I was the bulwark, and I was shattering, too. I shocked myself, and snapped out of my rage-filled frustration and became a caring, empathetic mother again. I slid open the door, joined them outside, dropped to my knees, and clung to them. I told them: I'm so sorry.
This happened four years ago, before my youngest child's memory even turned on and started working. But he and his two older siblings so regularly demand that I "tell the story of you breaking the door, Mom" that my youngest has had the memory written in for him.
Why do they want to hear this story over and over again? I always sigh, embarrassed at having to recall my Worst Moment Ever as a mom. But I do tell it. I leave out the details of the cause of that very bad day, but they want all the details of how the door sounded, how long it took to break, how long it took to fix, how much it cost to fix. I recite these facts over and over and over again.
Do they like this story because it shows someone who is usually strong and all-mighty make a mighty mistake? Do they find it comforting to know that I can be at my worst? Have I scarred them for life for sliding glass doors?
End note (or, in case you think I'm a crazy person): People these days talk about being "in a bad place" sometimes. And I was. I was in a really, really bad place emotionally and mentally. I'm not anymore, but I think I've got to write more about that time in my life so I get it out. I need to let it out. I need to squeeze out any bits that are left in me and leave them on the paper for someone else to learn from. Or be entertained by. Or maybe it's the Catholic part of me that needs to confess my sins, then forgive myself and move on.