biting the bulletpublished: 2012-01-03
“When I was 4, you threw my favourite underpants away.”
I could pretend I had no idea what he was talking about. But I did know. Sure I knew. I could, for example, have said, “oh really? oh well. Haha, that must have been funny…” Cough.
Instead, I chose to sit down in front of my little boy, who was on the floor taking off his pants to go to bed. Something, no idea what, had triggered a memory.
He had been 3, actually. And like many toddler boys, he was simply too lazy to go to the toilet. We were about to board an airplane. I had said, “I want you to pee before we go.” He refused. “But don’t pee in your pants then, okay?” Of course not mummy. Five minutes later, he wet his pants. I was out of spare undies. Goddammit. So then take the bloody thing off and well I’ll just uhm throw the goddamn thing away because at least your trousers are still somewhat dry and why the hell and I told you and for chrissake… and so on.
It was worse than he remembered. I had pulled his pants down in front of everyone. So learn then the hard way then, if you must. And now, I hated myself all over again.
“I remember that yes. I remember being angry and I remember it wasn’t your fault. I was tired and toddlers can be really tough to deal with sometimes. But that’s no excuse. It was wrong of me. How about we buy new favourite underpants tomorrow? Would you like that?”
“So we’re all right then?”
He nodded again and went on with his business of doing the things 5-year olds generally do.
Later, I asked him as casually as possible, “is there anything else you remember me doing that was mean?” He didn’t react. But after I told him his bedtime story, he put his little arm around me the way he always does while he and I wait for him to fall asleep.
Motherhood means holding your breath and crossing your fingers. For years on end