The door slammed behind me and I breathed in a wave of cold air.
The shock of it felt good. Walking out felt good.
I got in the car, put my belt on and put the keys in the ignition.
Then I stopped.
My hands gripped the steering wheel and I let my head drop to my chest. I knew that if I rested my head on the wheel like I wanted to, I’d break down in tears; but I also knew that I couldn’t drive off yet. Although I was in a completely emotional whirlwind, and my adrenalin was still pumping, thankfully I had enough presence of mind to know that I needed to calm down a little before driving. (Plus, if I cried, they would win. I didn’t want them to break me, I wasn’t giving in.)
I took a few deep breaths.
My heart was still racing but I was a little calmer.
I turned the ignition on and started driving.
As I pulled out onto the main road, my mind started swirling. Should I do some window shopping? Have a look for some of the things I had been wanting to check out for a while but never got the chance to? If I did that, I’d be shaking with hunger in about 10 minutes. I had missed breakfast trying to get everyone out the door and by now, it was way past my usual lunchtime. I needed to eat soon or my blood sugar would nosedive and I’d end up needing medical attention.
I drove past one set of shops and on to the next. The McDonald’s was in the same place as a few other shops I wanted to go to so I thought that might be a good option. Somehow though, a part of me was thinking ‘I can’t do that, the kids would be so upset to hear I ate there when they couldn’t…’ (I have always had trouble enjoying things on my own that I know the kids (and/or Chris) would enjoy too.) Most of the time, I end up going without rather than letting myself have the pleasure without them. But the other voice in my head said, ‘So what?! They lost their chance and I shouldn’t deny myself because of them.’
I pulled in to the carpark across from the McDonald’s and sat for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. In the end I decided I would let myself have this pleasure without any guilt and drove over to get my meal. I ordered and decided to go back to where I was originally parked since the McDonald’s carpark is really small and I didn’t want to take a space away from someone who wanted to eat inside.
I backed up my seat to stretch out a bit and took a few sips of my drink. It was icy cold and soothed my parched throat. With each bite I took I started to feel a little more relaxed. I turned up the radio and actually listened without any background noise or interruptions. I watched people go in and out of the shops and wondered about the stories of their lives. It seemed ridiculous to me that I could be enjoying a fast food meal in my car, on my own, quite so much. Feelings of guilt started to creep in again but I pushed them away.
I checked my phone to see what had been happening to the rest of the world while my morning was being so splendidly wrecked. An interesting article from Forbes that one of my friends had posted on Facebook caught my eye. It was all about the habits of successful leaders. As I read it, I immediately thought that it could apply to parenting just as much as business. When it talked about ‘leading your team,’ all I could think was that the kids were ‘my team.’ There were 15 points and as I read each one, I realised that I had failed at every single one. I had let my team down.
I blinked to hold back the tears that were filling my eyes. I folded my arms on the steering wheel and this time let my head drop onto them.
I started praying. It was all I could think to do. I felt so completely broken.
I prayed that God would forgive me… that my family would forgive me. I prayed to be a better mother and wife. I prayed to be a better person. I prayed for patience and for a mother’s eyes to see her children’s hearts.
I prayed… And then I went home.
Click here for Part 1 of the Broken Mama series.