I sat at the kitchen table and waited, my eyes fixated on the tire tracks left in the snow as she drove off.
She said she was leaving and her tone of voice made me feel like she wasn’t coming back. I felt all shaky inside like I was cold but I wasn’t. I was afraid. What if she didn’t come back?
She worked fulltime and was raising five children. Dad was working three jobs to try to get ahead after investing in a family run business. I was already doing all of the laundry and helping with most of the meals. Even at my age I could sense the stress in the house.
I was 12 and my four brothers were younger than me. They were in the other room playing when she stormed out of the house. I wondered where she would go. We lived in a small town in the Midwest. There’s not much going on in the middle of winter. Not many places to go.
I kept looking at the clock. She had been gone six hours. It had started to snow and I was getting sleepy. I was tired of waiting but I didn’t dare leave the table. Then I saw it…The navy blue Chrysler lumbering down the driveway. The tension I felt began to fade.
She walked in the back door. I got up from the table and went upstairs. I didn’t say a word to her. I was hurt and angry. Why would she do that to me? Make me think she was leaving and then come back like nothing had happened. The boys didn’t even know she had left.
This wasn’t the first time she would leave making me fear that she wouldn’t come back. For years I resented her for hurting me like that. And then I had children. Five children. And my husband worked long hours too. And I thought of mom. And I understood. There were times I wanted to get in the car and leave just like she did. But I didn’t. Because I remember what it did to me and how I felt. I didn’t want to do that to my daughter.
I feel differently now… about mom’s need to get away. That’s all it was. She would never have left us. I’m no longer hurt or feel resentful. I have forgiven her. She was drowning in motherhood and had nowhere to go. She just needed space. She needed alone time.
How fortunate I am to have the support I have that she desperately needed.
What I know to be true now that I couldn’t have known then is that mom did the best she could with what she had and she did a good job.