For 28 days out of every month, I am calm, cool. Collected. Kid drops a glass on the tile floor, Ka-blam, CRASH, and as calm mom, I say, “Oh honey! Are you okay? Better come stand over here while I get these billions of tiny shards cleaned up!” That’s the kind of mom I’m talking about. Twenty-eight days, man, every month, that’s me. Cool. . . . But then there are those other two to three days. Kid drops a glass on the tile floor, and as freakthefrickout mom, I say, “What the hell? What were you thinking? Were you holding that glass or throwing it?!”
At the ripe ages of 12 and 17, my three kids have experienced the volatile version of me often enough to have learned a valuable lesson: proceed with caution. They handle me like a loaded gun. Gently. They approach me like a bomb squad drawing near an unattended package in the airport. Carefully.
Just yesterday morning, Clyde came up to me like he was moving in on a wounded animal, arms extended, palms raised. “Mom, it’s okay if you can’t do this,” he began. I raised my brow, and in response, he moved his hands up and down, the universal sign for “Please stay calm.”
“If this can’t work, no biggie,” he added. “But if you have time and it’s not a huge hassle and you’re out today somewhere, you know, like around the music store, could you get me a metronome?”
I eyed him suspiciously. “Why?”
“I’m supposed to have one for instrument check.”
“When’s instrument check?”
He knew the answer wasn’t good, so he slowly said, “tomorrow,” and then quickly added, “If you can’t get one, it’s my fault! Totally. I should have told you sooner. But if you can get one. . . .”
I muttered, “I’ll see.”
“That’d be great Mom! Thanks!” Hug!
No sooner did Clyde clear the premises, then Tanner showed up. Tanner was unconcerned with his minor report, so launched into it without a care: “I have choir rehearsal this Friday.”
“What?!” My tone was unmistakably annoyed, so Tanner changed his tactics, his tone soothing, like he was talking to someone trapped under a wrecked car.
“It’s just an in-class thing. . . .”
“But I’m not here on Friday . . . ,” I whined.
“Mom. . . .”
“. . . I told you I wouldn’t be here . . . ,” I said, still whining.
“Mom. . . .”
“ . . . I’m never ever gone, so why does this thing have to be Friday when I’m not here?”
“Mom,” he said quietly, his voice velvet. “You don’t need to go to the rehearsal. The real concert is two weeks from now.” He smiled, hugged me, and checked: “Okay?” I nodded, pouty.
As unpredictable and horrid as my inner bitch is, she has served me well over the years: she keeps my kids sharp—and thankful. Every month, when that wicked witch is laid to rest, my kids are ever so grateful for the return of Linda the Good Witch, whose every lame attempt at kindness looks positively magical when compared to the horrors of her evil twin. So long live my Wicked Witch, may she continue to show her ugly face … but only sometimes.