We left my sisters shortly after 9 in the morning. Even a promised trip to Costco couldn't convince me to delay my trip for two more hours. I wanted, NEEDED, to be home with the people I love most in the world under one roof.
As I drove down the highway away from Vancouver towards our home, I began to weep. Tears I didn't want to have ran free. I hide behind my sunglasses and wipe them away frantically. I never want to cry, and I always hate it when I do. I feel too open for ridicule and often embarrassed. But on this day anger, exhaustion, pain, and relief just needed an outlet. My resilience was gone; eaten by 10 days of being 'the strong one'. I feel weak, bruised and very, very vulnerable.
I lose my temper on a hurting friend who dared to be needy with me. Why can't they tell I have nothing left to give today? I am tired of giving. I want to take for a day. Just a day. Give me something back, care for ME. Ask me how I am doing. Tell me you care if I am ok. I fear I have broken a friendship I value into pieces. I cry some more.
The long hours driving give me some perspective. I try to pull myself together. I sing. We tell stories as we drive. I am still grouchy, but trying to fake it. Greg is quiet, tired maybe? Tanner is talking a mile a minute telling me of his adventures with his favorite people while I was gone and how he didn't miss home one bit.
We arrive at Subway for lunch. They overcharge us, Greg is rude to both me and the server. Talking to his feet, mumbling, not saying thank you. I correct him 3 times, each time less lovingly than the last. Finally, in less than stellar mother fashion, but also I think completely normal mother fashion, I snap at him back in the car.
"No lunch for you young man until you say Please AND Thank You to me with a good attitude"
Greg is 13. In case you don't know many 13 year old boys, they do not cry. As a matter of fact mostly they don't express much emotion at all. Greg has shed the odd tear in front of us in the past year and a half, that is usually angrily wiped away dare we notice it, but that's it.
Greg began to wail. Sob. His chest heaving, deep cries, tears.
Tanner hates conflict with a passion that rests deep in his soul. He begins to weep silently, looking out the window, willing me not to notice him.
I pull over. Somewhere, somehow on a day I feel completely and totally empty I find the emotional reserves to reach out to my hurting child.
My questions about the are met with a series of gruff "Nos!". No, he doesn't miss Missouri. No, this isn't about the trip. No, he isn't tired. No, he does not want to talk about it.
Finally he sobs that he thinks I am mean to him. Picking on him. I guess today, of all days, he still needs to feel close to me. Me correcting him was just more than he could take. Or maybe the tears are for a completely different reason and my demands for good manners are just a brilliant excuse for a display of pent up emotion. Internally I vote for the pent up emotion. A kid who has held it together better than I have during what must be the most tumultious week of his life. He deserves a good breakdown even more than I do.
Slowly, carefully choosing my words I tell him how very, very proud of him I am. How much I love him. How even when I correct him, because that's what all good moms do, it doesn't mean I don't love him, or don't think he is one of the most amazing kids alive. How daddy and I brag about him all the time. How teaching him isn't about pointing out what he is doing wrong, its about showing him how to succeed in life.
His sobs quiet. I hold his hand and head for home. Greg falls asleep.
When he awakens, its with a smile on his face and all is right with our world again. We are minutes from home.
I begin to think of Eric. Eric who chose not to come on this trip. Eric who is going to learn of his sisters, his brother, his mother, his father, his aunts, uncles and grandparents through my pictures and our stories. How will I handle dealing with my sensitive boy who processes things very differently? What can I tell him? How will he react?